Wildcats Rope Mustangs

PROVO, Utah - The Kansas State Wildcats turned up the heat after dropping a set to Cal Poly for a 3-1 win at the BYU Nike Classic on Saturday morning. K-State battled in a tight opening set before struggling in the second only to rebound and take it to the Mustangs 27-25, 20-25, 25-17, 25-19 and improve to 3-2 on the year.

The Wildcats (3-2) were led by a trio of hitters as JuliAnne Chisholm again led with 18 kills and hit an amazing .415 for an outside hitter. Senior middle blocker Kelsey Chipman posted 13 kills with four blocks while hitting .478, and freshman Caitlyn Donahue added 11 kills and six digs for K-State. Chipman posted a double-double with 10 digs as well.

Head coach Suzie Fritz said it was a good win for her team to put a complete match together in the third and fourth sets.

"Chipman and Chisholm were extremely good. They both hit over .400," Fritz said. "For Jules to hit over .400 from the left side is remarkable. I think she showed nice range and tipped some balls."

Fritz added the offense was able to hit .268 as a team thanks to a solid effort on receiving serves and distributing the ball, saying it was the best defensive effort by her team this season.

"The thing I was most enthused about was our passing," Fritz said. "That was our best passing match this season by far, and we were able to get our middles involved. I think what we have improved on the most is our overall consistency and balance."

K-State and Cal Poly (0-6) battled back and forth let in the opening set after the Wildcats opened up a large lead early. The Mustangs chipped away at the lead but with a number of crucial service errors down the stretch enabled K-State to get the victory 27-25.

Cal Poly rebounded in the second set by opening up a large lead of its own pulling ahead 13-6 early. K-State got hot but it was too little too late trailing 22-15 and scoring four straight points to pull within three points. Cal Poly answered with two points putting K-State in the corner and eventually winning 25-20.

The Mustangs overpowered the Wildcats hitting .341 as a team in the second set to K-State's .195 as Megan McConnell and Dominique Olowolafe helped lead Cal Poly.

In the third set, K-State bounced right back hitting a dominant .438 with 17 kills and just three errors. The Wildcats jumped on the Mustangs early in the set with a five-point run to lead 9-5. Another four-point run would put K-State up 18-11 and prove to be too much for Cal Poly to overcome as another run gave the Wildcats a 25-16 win and pull ahead two sets to one.

To start the fourth set, K-State used its speed on the back row to come up with a number of big plays to save balls headed for the stands and floor and eventually scored on those long rallies thanks to the hustle of libero Lauren Mathewson who led the Wildcats with 15 digs.

The scrappy defense paired with a three quick kills from Sarah Allison helped K-State open a 5-1 lead. Cal Poly closed the gap to two points at 9-7, but the Wildcats would find their stroke again with a six-point run as Chisholm and Allison led the way with kills to go ahead 16-9.

K-State's seven-point lead would be enough as Cal Poly could not battle back. The Mustangs attempted a comeback with a three-point rally to make it 18-15, but the Wildcats again answered the bell with four straight points including two aces from Mathewson.

The Wildcats closed the match on the arm of Chipman as she got the final three points of the match on kills - all on the swing - to get the victory 25-19.

K-State will take on host BYU tonight at 8 p.m. Central from Smith Fieldhouse with the match broadcast live on 1350kman.com and called by Rob Voelker.

- k-statesports.com -