Wildcats Keep Close with Cyclones

Ashley Kelican

Oct. 5, 2011

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State volleyball team took on one of the top teams in the nation on Wednesday night and pushed the Iowa State Cyclones but fell in three sets. The Wildcats dropped the match 25-27, 21-25, 23-25 as they hung in with the No. 16 Cyclones with backup setter Ashley Kelican keeping the team in the match the whole way.

Kelican started in place of Caitlyn Donahue, and Head Coach Suzie Fritz praised Kelican for her strong play in her first career start and said the Wildcats played well despite the loss.

“In football you have one quarterback that gets all the snaps, and it’s similar to volleyball in that we have one quarterback that gets all the snaps,” Fritz said of the setter position. “Ashley did exceptionally well given that she doesn’t get as many snaps. When you have a different setter, they might release the ball differently and the hitters have to adjust. Iowa State is a very good team, and that effort will beat a lot of teams.”

K-State (13-5, 2-2 Big 12) was led offensively by Lilla Porubek with 11 kills. She was joined in double digits by Kathleen Ludwig, who put together another solid performance with 10 kills on a .364 hitting percentage. Ludwig also added six digs and a pair of aces. Kelican had 31 assists in her first start and also added an ace, eight digs and four blocks, including a solo stuff. Libero Kuulei Kabalis was strong on the back row for K-State to help hold the Cyclones well under their season average for hitting percentage as she tallied 17 digs.

Iowa State (13-3, 4-1) hit just .218 for the match with Carly Jenson and Jamie Straube each reaching double digits in kills with 12 and 10, respectively. The Cyclones’ libero also had a strong night to edge out Kabalis with 23 digs on the night. Kelsey Petersen was one player the Wildcats could not slow down as she had nine kills on 18 swings for a hitting percentage of .500.

“I’m proud of our team. I thought they played real hard,” Fritz said. “Defensively, I felt we had a very good effort. Anytime you hold a team like that at or near .200 efficiency, I think that’s good. We just hurt ourselves more than they did. We played with them, but in the end we have got to be good when it matters.”

Against one of the top teams in the nation, the Wildcats pushed the Cyclones to extra points in the first set after battling from a large deficit. A 6-0 rally helped pull the Wildcats up and eventually take the lead 21-19. The two teams then began trading blows as neither could gain the advantage until finally Iowa State got the win 27-25 on an attack error by Kaitlynn Pelger.

The second set was similar for the Wildcats as they clawed their way back into contention as they trailed 16-10 at one point in the frame. K-State came within two points but could not complete the comeback as the Wildcats hung just close enough to put a scare into the Cyclones heading into the third set with Iowa State edging out the second set 25-21.

Both teams came out in the third set and battled back and forth. There were a total of 11 ties and six lead changes in the final set alone. The largest lead in the set by either team was just three points. In the end, the Wildcats did not have enough to overcome the Cyclones as Iowa State got the sweep heading into this weekend’s action.

K-State travels to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday with first serve set for 1 p.m. The Wildcats will then have a week to prepare for the Texas Longhorns as they have a mid-week bye on Wednesday.