Wildcats Fall to No. 17 Kentucky

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Kansas State Wildcats battled tightly with No. 17 Kentucky before the Wildcats from Lexington ran away with the fourth set to get the win 25-19, 21-25, 25-23, 25-15. K-State's five-match winning streak came to an end after head coach Suzie Fritz said the team got into a rotation matchup that did not suit her team well.

"We got stuck in a rotation and couldn't get out of it," Fritz said. "I thought we played hard after we got out of that rotation. We just can't afford to dig ourselves into a hole like that so early in a set."

K-State trailed by as many as 14 points in the fourth set thanks to the rotation mismatch. K-State outscored Kentucky 12-8 from that point on but it was too little too late. A rowdy crowd helped try to pull K-State back into the match, but the 2,027 fans were not enough.

"We had a great crowd," Fritz said. "We really appreciate them being here and sticking with us tonight and cheering for us all the way to the end. We just couldn't pull it off for them."

Kentucky (8-0) was led by Sarah Mendoza with 19 kills and 11 digs for a double-double. She was joined by two teammates with double-digit kills in Lauren Rapp with 12 and Becky Pavan with 10. Stephanie Klefot led the defensive effort with 20 digs.

K-State's Kathleen Ludwig was the only player in double figures with 12 kills as K-State lost a match at its home Varney's Kansas State Invitational for the first time since September 10, 2005, against Minnesota - a nine-match winning streak.

The Wildcats failed to tally at least 10 kills in two of the sets with just nine in the opener and six in the fourth. K-State hit for a negative team percentage in the fourth set as well. This was K-State's third match against a ranked opponent this season, representing all the team's losses. The last time the Wildcats defeated a ranked opponent was August 24, 2007, when K-State bested No. 14 Cal Poly in five sets.

Day two of the Varney's Kansas State Invitational continues Saturday from Ahearn Field House at Kentucky takes on Purdue in the morning at 10 followed by K-State vs. Portland at 12:30 p.m. In the evening session, Portland and Kentucky will tangle at 5:30 p.m. as K-State and Purdue close the event.

- k-statesports.com -