K-State Falls in Five to Boilermakers

MANHATTAN, Kan. - In a match that went back and forth down to the wire, it was the Purdue Boilermakers that just edged out the No. 21 Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday night for the win in five sets. K-State battled back and got hot late in the match, but Purdue was able to hold off the charge in the final match of the Varney's Kansas State Invitational 26-24, 22-25, 25-15, 20-25, 15-12.

"I thought we played very well at times tonight," said head coach Suzie Fritz. "I felt like we passed consistently and we managed their serving pretty well because they're a very good serving team."

K-State (6-4) was led by Kathleen Ludwig with 15 kills while JuliAnne Chisholm joined her in double figures with 13. Libero Lauren Mathewson tallied 19 digs to lead the defensive effort and passing game on serve reception. Ludwig also added three aces for the Wildcats.

It was Ludwig's and her teammates' serving that kept them in the match down the stretch, Fritz added. Another aspect of the match Fritz said she was happy with was her team's ability to shut down on of Purdue's go-to players in Carrie Grunell. Grunell had 13 kills but also 13 errors to hit .000 for the night.

"I was please with our ability to defend the left side attack," Fritz said. "We held Grunell to a zero hitting percentage so that's something in itself because she's a great player for them."

K-State could not find its stroke early in the match hitting just .083 in the first set but still managed to have a set point after fighting back from an 18-10 deficit. After K-State rebounded with a win in the second set, the hitting woes reappeared with a negative team hitting percentage helping Purdue to the 25-15 win and a 2-1 advantage.

Then the Wildcats fought right back with their best set of the evening in the fourth holding Purdue to a .159 percentage and hitting .256 themselves and opening up an eight-point lead before winning 25-20. The two teams fought neck and neck with Purdue leading just 8-7 after a charge by K-State. After the switch, however, Purdue would outscore the Wildcats 7-5 for the 15-12 win.

Fritz said her team may not have come away with the win on Saturday night to close out its home tournament, but she can take a lot of positives away from the match against a very strong Big Ten Conference opponent in the Boilermakers.

"Even though we lost I feel good about how we played. We had a lot of things we needed to work on and we improved in those areas so I'm pleased with that," Fritz said. "This team is very similar to what we will face in the Big 12 in terms of physicality and level of play.

"We look at the season in four segments - the preseason, the first of conference and the second half and the postseason. We're where we thought we'd be after the preseason, not in wins and losses, but in terms of improvement."

The Wildcats begin Big 12 Conference play at home on Wednesday at 7 p.m. as they play host to the Oklahoma Sooners at Ahearn Field House.

Varney's Kansas State Invitational All-Tournament Team

MVP: Sarah Rumely, Kentucky
Sarah Mendoza, Kentucky
Blaire Hiler, Kentucky
Kristen Arthurs, Purdue
Carrie Grunell, Purdue
Kelsey Chipman, Kansas State
Maria Clemens, Portland

- k-statesports.com -