Wildcats Slip at No. 22 Sooners

Kaitlynn Pelger

Oct. 22, 2011

Box Score

NORMAN, Okla. – The Kansas State Wildcats were poised to take a 2-1 lead on the No. 22 Oklahoma Sooners, but a rally by the home team in the third set grabbed the momentum from the Wildcats and carried the Sooners to the victory in four sets. K-State had solid match from its middle blockers and defensive specialists, but it was not enough to defeat the ranked Sooners on their home floor for the first time this season as K-State fell 20-25, 25-20, 22-25, 21-25.

K-State (15-7, 4-4) saw three players reach double digits in kills led by Kaitlynn Pelger again with 26. Alex Muff posted a new career-high 13 kills while also hitting an impressive .444 for the match. Lilla Porubek also added 13 kills to the effort for the Wildcats.

Defensively, the Wildcats were solid and able to keep pace with the Sooners at their own game of digging balls winning that battle 79-76. Four players reached double digits in digs as Pelger posted her ninth double-double of the season with 14 digs. Libero Kuulei Kabalis and defensive specialist Tristan McCarty each played a major role in the Wildcats’ defense on Saturday with 16 and 14 digs, respectively. Setter Caitlyn Donahue also had her seventh double-double on the year with 53 assists and 14 digs.

Oklahoma (19-5, 6-2) proved why it is a difficult team to beat on its home floor with that rally in the third set. The Sooners trailed 22-17 as the Wildcats looked ready to take the 2-1 lead and take control of the match, but OU responded with eight straight points and the win. The Sooners were led by Tara Dunn with 11 kills and Sallie McLaurin posted 11 kills as the Wildcats were able to slow Oklahoma’s top hitter Suzy Boulavsky with only eight kills. Oklahoma’s libero Maria Fernanda tallied 22 digs to lead the defense.

The Wildcats fell into a hole early in the set as the Sooners had two runs of 3-0 to open up a 13-7 lead. After trading blows, the Sooners opened the lead up even more with a 6-0 run to pull ahead 20-9. K-State would battle back with a 6-1 run to make it 20-24, but it was not enough as the Sooners ended the set with a kill to win 25-20.

The second set was much the same as the first but with an opposite result. K-State got the win 25-20 using a series of runs by the Wildcats to get the victory. A 6-0 run by K-State opened the early lead to 11-6 in favor of the Wildcats as the block came to life for the first time in the match with back-to-back stuffs during the run. Two more 3-0 runs by K-State made it 20-13 and painted the Sooners into a corner. The Sooners tried to rally like the Wildcats did in the first set, but it was not enough with Pelger putting OU away with a kill down the line to tie the match at one set apiece heading into the intermission.

K-State appeared to be in control of the third set building a 21-16 lead late in the set with a 4-0 run. After exchanging points, K-State was just three points away from winning the set, but the Wildcats would start to unravel. Oklahoma went on to score eight straight points to win the set 25-22, but the Sooners were responsible for only two of those eight points as the Sooners started the rally with a block and ended it with a kill by Carlee Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger got credit for another kill during the 8-0 run but it was a result of a blocking error by the Wildcats.

After grabbing the momentum from the come-from-behind win in the third set, the Sooners continued to control the match not letting the Wildcats build a lead of more than two points. Oklahoma built the first four-point lead of the set during a 3-0 run to go up 22-18, and that deficit proved to be too much for the Wildcats to overcome. The teams then traded blows back and forth, which was enough to get the win 25-21 and remain undefeated at home for the Sooners.

K-State returns home to take on the Missouri Tigers on Wednesday. The match is set for 6:30 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports Kansas City.