Wildcats Ground Pilots in Five Sets

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Kansas State Wildcats started strong against the Portland Pilots on Saturday afternoon before K-State allowed Portland to pull its way back into the match and force a fifth set. K-State survived the scare with a dominant fifth set to get the win 25-19, 25-17, 20-25, 23-25, 15-5.

The Wildcats saw another impressive performance from freshman Caitlyn Donahue as she tallied a double-double with 14 kills and 18 digs. JuliAnne Chisholm also had a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs on the afternoon. Senior middle blocker Kelsey Chipman led the way offensively with 17 kills and a .500 hitting percentage with just one error. Chipman also was a force at the net with six total blocks, including two solo stops.

Five players for K-State had double figures in digs led by Abby Fay, who started at libero the first four sets of the match, with 20 digs. Then came Donahue's 18 followed by 13 from Kathleen Ludwig, 12 by setter Soriana Pacheco and Chisholm's 10.

K-State (6-3) struggled offensively in the first set but had a strong defensive showing to force Portland into hitting for a negative percentage. The Wildcats bounced back with a more consistent attack in the second set hitting .385 as a team and nearly tallying 20 kills as the Pilots only managed eight.

The Wildcats failed to win the battle at the service line while Portland knocked out nine aces with seven errors compared to K-State's four aces and 13 service errors. It was a key point in the match head coach Suzie Fritz said played a role in the Pilots being able to force a fifth set as the Wildcats could not keep Portland off balance early in the match.

"It comes down to winning the serve-and-receive battle and we didn't start to win that battle until late in the match," Fritz said.

She also added that by her team not being able to receive Portland's serve well enough to stay within its offensive system, K-State could not get into a groove against the Pilots.

"We need to find a way to be in a better rhythm on offense and kill more balls," Fritz said.

After painting themselves into a corner by allowing Portland to win sets three and four and force a pivotal fifth, the Wildcats came out with a fire. K-State's serve receive was on point with a 100-percent sideout mark in the final set and rolling to a 15-5 win.

The Wildcats return to Ahearn Field House tonight to take on Purdue at 7:30 for the final match of the Varney's Kansas State Invitational. In the first match of the morning session, No. 17 Kentucky bested Purdue in four sets. Kentucky and Portland will square off at 5:30 p.m.

- k-statesports.com -