Wildcats Fall to Huskers 3-0

LINCOLN, Neb. - The Kansas State Wildcats battled conference rival Nebraska on the road Saturday night but could not get their first Big 12 win as the Cornhuskers were able to get the sweep in front of another sellout crowd. The Wildcats struggled to find a rhythm in the first set and could not put together enough runs of their own to keep up with the Cornhuskers late.

Nebraska (12-4, 5-2 Big 12) got the win 25-13, 25-19, 25-18 to keep the Wildcats from getting the upset and claiming their first conference win of the season. K-State (6-10, 0-6) was led by Vanessa Murray with 11 kills on the night hitting .240. JuliAnne Chisholm added eight kills with Kelsey Chipman and Kathleen Ludwig contributing six and five respectively. Libero Lauren Mathewson tallied 13 digs.

The Cornhuskers had a number of players come up big at different times throughout the match with freshman Hannah Werth teaming with junior Tara Mueller for 10 kills apiece. The trio of Kori Cooper, Lindsey Licht and Brooke Delano each added seven kills with Delano and Cooper both hitting better than .425. Kayla Banwarth posted 20 digs in the sweep as well while Nebraska hit .319 as a team and K-State hit just .170 as the Wildcats could not get passed Nebraska's block. The Cornhuskers posted 12 blocks on the night with six by Licht and five from Delano.

In the opening set the Wildcats were able to keep it close for a while until a 5-0 run by the Cornhuskers opened up a 15-8 lead. K-State struggled to put together rallies of its own scoring consecutive points just twice in the first set before falling 25-13. Meanwhile, Nebraska's offense was firing away at K-State hitting an impressive .438. Kori Cooper led the way with a nearly perfect set tallying six kills on seven swings with no errors to hit .857.

K-State found itself behind early again in the second set, but this time the Wildcats answered with multiple runs to hang with the 'Huskers but it was not enough.

Nebraska opened a 4-0 lead out of the gates in the second set, and K-State scored the next five points to give the Wildcats their first lead of the match. Nebraska reclaimed the lead with a three-point run to move ahead 8-6, and head coach Suzie Fritz replaced setter Soriana Pacheco with freshman Ashley Kelican trailing 9-7.

In her first collegiate action, Kelican helped the Wildcats get back on track and take another lead at 12-11 after another three-point run. Nebraska rediscovered its offensive rhythm and was able to catch K-State out of position on the block to score five straight points and provide enough push to put the set out of reach.

K-State was able to pull within three points, but it was not enough with Werth providing a series of kills down the stretch for Nebraska to take the set 25-19 and hold a 2-0 advantage headed into the locker room at the intermission.

Nebraska continued to ride the arm of Werth as she continued to pound out kills for the Cornhuskers in the third set to open an early 5-1 lead. The 'Huskers also saw All-American Tara Mueller return to form in the third set as she helped extend the lead to five points at 13-8 before the Wildcats went on a four-point run to pull within a point of Nebraska and force the Cornhuskers to take a timeout.

Out of the timeout, Nebraska did allow K-State to tie the match, but responded with a four-point lead to paint the Wildcats into a corner 18-14. Nebraska was able to put the match further out of reach for the Wildcats with a pair of aces by Gina Mancuso and another four-point run before closing the door 25-18 for the win.

The Wildcats will return home to Ahearn Field House to take on the Missouri Tigers on Wednesday at 7 p.m. with K-State looking for its first conference win. The match will be televised on Fox Sports Kansas City.

- k-statesports.com -