Wildcats Hang Tough with No. 5 Hawaii

Alex Muff

Aug. 29, 2010

Box Score

HONOLULU, Hawaii - Kansas State fell in an exciting three-set match to No. 5 Hawaii on Saturday night in the Stan Sheriff Center as the Wildcats battled with the Rainbow Wahine in a match that got the crowd of 6,173 off its feet cheering plays for both teams. The Wildcats lost 25-16, 25-23, 25-20 but saw impressive performances from its middle blockers.

Freshman Kaitlynn Pelger finished the night with 10 block assists, which ranks second in school history for a three-set match. Sophomore Alex Muff led the Wildcats (0-2) with seven kills on 10 swings with one error to hit .600 on the night. Muff also added two block assists of her own to the effort.

Hawaii (2-0) was led by All-American Kanani Danielson with 17 kills and a .394 hitting percentage. She also had nine digs to just miss a double-double. Hawaii hit .206 as a team as the Wildcats' 13 total blocks helped slow the Wahine down, but their balanced offense helped hold the edge over the Wildcats as five players had five or more kills.

Head coach Suzie Fritz said it was another case of her offense struggling to get going, but she still saw some good things happening on the court.

"Offensively we still have a lot of work to do. We had a hard time finding a good rhythm," Fritz said. "I thought we were terrific at the net and defensively we weren't bad, but offensively we just couldn't get anything going to match it."

The Wildcats were facing a large deficit midway through the final third set when they began to rally and chip away at Hawaii's lead bringing more tension to each point. Down 17-10 a kill by JuliAnne Chisholm ignited the comeback.

Hawaii answered with two straight points to lead 19-17, but K-State would score eight of the next 11 points to trail just 19-22. The Wildcats could not overcome the difference, however, and eventually fell 25-20.

K-State hung with the Rainbow Wahine early in the first set battling from behind to tie the score. Hawaii would find its rhythm, however, and build a large lead thanks to kills from a series of kills by Danielson. K-State tried to make a late charge pulling within five points at 18-13, but Hawaii responded with a four-point run to counter and put the set out of reach before claiming it 25-16.

The Wildcats showed they could hang with the No. 5 team in the nation during the second set before falling in the late stages. Hawaii scored the first point of the set, but K-State would take the lead and hold it until late in the set.

Pelger was a force at the net assisting on five blocks in the second set alone to keep Hawaii from staging a comeback. K-State used those blocks by Pelger to build an 8-4 lead and extended it to 12-6 at one point before Hawaii stormed back with six straight points to tie the set. Four straight two-point runs by K-State would extend the lead to four again, but Hawaii answered with five points to take the 19-18 lead its first since leading 2-1. A block by Pelger and Dakota Kaufman made the score 22-21 in favor of Hawaii, and a kill by Pelger would keep the Wildcats alive, but Danielson tallied a kill to end the hard fought set at 25-23 as Hawaii took a 2-0 lead into the locker room.

The Wildcats close out the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational on Sunday at 3 p.m. Hawaii Time (8 p.m. Central Standard) as they take on No. 22 San Diego (0-2) The Toreros fell in five sets to Hawaii on Friday night and were swept by UCLA in the early match Saturday.

The match can be heard on KMAN 1340 AM and online at www.kstatesports.com. Live stats and video streaming will be provided through www.hawaiiathletics.com.