K-State Offense Powers Sweep of South Dakota

GREEN BAY, Wisc. - A Wildcat offense that hit .345 for the entire match led the K-State volleyball team to its second straight sweep to open the season as the Wildcats beat South Dakota 3-0 (25-9, 25-20, 25-16) at Kress Events Center on Saturday morning.

Sophomore Brooke Sassin led the Wildcats (2-0) with 11 kills on a .611 hitting percentage while redshirt seniors Chelsea Keating and Natali Jones had seven and six kills, respectively. Jones was efficient with her six kills on seven errorless attempts, hitting .857 for the match. Keating hit .312 after having only two errors on her 16 attempts.
"We were in a little bit of a better hitting rhythm [today compared to last night]," said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz. "One of our strengths with this team is our balance. We are not relying on one or two players. The middles are involved, Chelsea [Keating] has a presence on the right side, and Katie [Brand] is doing a nice job of getting everyone involved."
With the offense in sync, the Wildcats kept South Dakota (0-2) out of system with effective serving. K-State had nine aces, with Keating and sophomore Kersten Kober leading the way and establishing new career-highs with three aces each. Combined with 44 digs and 7.0 team blocks, K-State held the Coyotes to a .124 hitting percentage in the match.
"Serving strategically and serving in the right zones had a lot to do with it," said Fritz about K-State's defensive approach. "They couldn't get in system enough to do what they wanted to do."
The Wildcats broke out to a 6-0 lead in the first set, a start capped by back-to-back aces from Keating. South Dakota never closed the gap closer than six points, and with the score at 11-5, the Wildcats used a 10-0 run to pull away from the Coyotes. Sassin and Keating had two kills apiece while South Dakota committed three errors as part of the run.
K-State trailed in the early going of set two, but a brief 4-0 run featuring kills from Keating, Brand and Reininger gave the Wildcats a 5-3 lead. Despite holding the lead throughout most of the second set, South Dakota kept it close, even tying it at 10-10. Back-to-back errors, one on a service and another on an attack, put K-State up 12-10, however.
Later in the second, the K-State block came alive, including a duo block by Jones and Sassin that opened a three-point advantage at 19-16. Katie Brand, who had set point in the first with a kill, clinched the second for K-State at 25-20 with a solo block, the fourth team block of the set by the Wildcats.
In the third, the Wildcats once again established an early advantage, taking a 5-1 lead after a kill from Brand. Two points later, South Dakota blocked a Kylee Zumach attack to make it 5-3, but the two-point margin was the narrowest of the entire set. Sassin had a team-best five kills in the third set.
K-State will wrap up its time in the Green Bay Country Inn & Suites Tournament with a 4:30 pm match against Arizona later today.
K-State's nine aces were its most since Sept. 21, 2013 when the Wildcats had 12 aces against Saint Louis. K-State has 11 aces in six sets so far this season, and four different Wildcats, Katie Brand (2), Chelsea Keating (3), Kersten Kober (2) and Katie Reininger (2), have more than one ace.
Katie Brand had a team-best five blocks against South Dakota, with four assists and one solo. Brand's nine blocks this season trail Natali Jones' 10 blocks for the team lead.
Five Wildcats have 10 or more kills this season, led by 18 from Brooke Sassin. K-State is hitting .297 as a team while holding its opponents to a .078 clip.