Wildcats Fall to Jayhawks in Historic Matchup

Kathleen Ludwig

Oct. 17, 2012

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – It was the first time in the history of the rivalry that both K-State and Kansas were ranked when they took the volleyball court on Wednesday night, and it was the Jayhawks who came out victorious. The Wildcats fell in the Dillons Sunflower Showdown by the score of 28-26, 15-25, 26-28, 20-25 as the Jayhawks remained undefeated at home this season.

In front of a sellout crowd at Horejsi Family Athletics Center the Jayhawks limited the Wildcats thanks to a big blocking presence at the net. The Wildcats were rejected 18 times by KU at the net, the most allowed by an opponent this season.

“They’ve played really well at home,” said K-State Head Coach Suzie Fritz. “I don’t think we underestimated anybody. We’re disappointed because we feel we didn’t play our best. Eighteen blocks tells a little bit of a story and 10 service errors tells another story. We weren’t making good decisions.”

K-State (17-3, 4-3) was led by senior Kathleen Ludwig with a season-high 17 kills and she also was the team’s most efficient hitter at .366. Junior middle blocker got hot during the third set but it wasn’t enough to get the win. Pelger tallied 15 kills on the evening and was in on four of K-State’s blocks.

Lilla Porubek and Alex Muff joined them in double digits with 12 and 10 kills respectively. Porubek was one Wildcat who fell victim to KU’s block as she hit just .095 for the match. The Wildcats hit .187 as a team compared to KU’s .271.

Defensively for the Wildcats, senior libero Kuulei Kabalis tallied 17 digs and junior defensive specialist Tristan McCarty added 13, but it was not enough to overcome KU’s offense or the miscues from K-State.

The Wildcats tallied 10 service errors on the night, and Ludwig said that along with KU’s block played a major role in K-State stumbling on the road.

“We’re disappointed and frustrated. We played hard but we didn’t do what we needed to do to win,” Ludwig said. “We missed 10 serves and got blocked 18 times. That’s very uncharacteristic of us. We knew they would come out hard against us and they did.”

KU (18-3, 6-1) saw outside hitter Sara McClinton lead the way with 19 kills on a strong .545 hitting percentage. Middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc also reached double digits with 11 kills and had a double-double as she posted 11 block assists and a solo stop.

“We couldn’t slow them down,” Fritz said. “They had a left side hit .550 and when you have a left side hit .550, you’re going to be hard to beat. We didn’t put any pressure on them.”

K-State took a large lead early on in the first set as the Wildcats were hitting for a high percentage. KU would fight its way back and even take a 17-15 lead following a 5-0 run. That lead would grow to as many as three points before K-State would find its rhythm again to tie it up at 22 points. Back-to-back kills from the Wildcats would give them set point, but again KU fought back and even reclaimed the lead to establish its own set point twice. The Jayhawks would slip up and make two mistakes at a key point in the match and allow K-State to get a kill and win the first set 28-26.

It was all KU in the second set, however, as the Wildcats struggled on offense. K-State hit just .025 with one more kill than errors. The Jayhawks put up a big block in the set and the Wildcats hit into it with KU posting six blocks in the second set alone contributing to K-State’s low hitting percentage.

The Jayhawks on the other hand, hit .375 in the second set and spread its offense around with seven different players getting kills en route to the 25-15 win to even the match heading into the locker room at the break.

In the third set K-State build the lead up to as many as six points at 14-8 and KU slowly clawed its way bay into the match. The Jayhawks went on a 6-3 run to tie it up at 22-22. After an error from the Jayhawks gave K-State set point, the Jayhawks were able to fight out three set points for the Wildcats before scoring on a double contact called by the officials on Donahue followed by a block to win the set 28-26 and take a 2-1 lead.

The Wildcats had their chances in the fourth set as well battling back from five points down to make it a one-point deficit 16-17. But a service error and a block would put K-State back into a hole. Then, another pair of blocks and two kills from McClinton would give KU its first match point opportunity.

K-State will be back in action on Saturday when the Wildcats host the Texas Tech Red Raiders at 3 p.m. from Ahearn Field House. It will be K-State’s Dig Pink match and the Wildcats are asking fans to wear pink to the match to show their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Check kstatesports.com on Thursday for more information on ticket specials and other Dig Pink promotions for Saturday’s match.