Wildcats Drop Tight Match with Baylor

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Kansas State Wildcats showed signs of maturing as a young team in a battle with No. 23 Baylor, but could not get over the hump to complete a near comeback in Ahearn Field House on Saturday evening. Baylor defeated K-State 18-25, 25-16, 25-18, 30-28 to get back on the winning track after dropping three straight Big 12 Conference matches.

K-State (8-12, 2-8 Big 12) came out of the gates firing against the Bears winning the first set 25-18. The Wildcats hit .310 in the opening set while holding Baylor (18-4, 7-4) to just .114 hitting with five blocks for the Wildcats.

Baylor is one of the top blocking teams in the Big 12 this year and has one of the top middle blockers in the league in Anna Breyfogle, and the Wildcats kept pace at the net with 11 blocks. Kathleen Ludwig tallied six block assists on the night, and Alex Muff contributed five. Breyfogle made her presence felt at the net as well with seven block assists.

A pair of outside hitters led the Wildcats with 10 kills apiece as JuliAnne Chisholm and Vanessa Murray guided the offense. Libero Lauren Mathewson tallied 18 digs on the night, including a stellar fourth set where she posted nine digs alone.

The fourth set was a nail biter that had the K-State fans on their feet as the Wildcats battled back from a 14-10 deficit to lead 21-19. However, Baylor would battle back fighting off three set points to keep the set alive. K-State was able to fend off one match point at 27-26 but the Bears kept clawing and got the win 30-28.

Head coach Suzie Fritz said her team played well in the loss and was proud to see such fight in her team against a Top 25 opponent.

"We were way down and the fact we got back in was great. It's so hard to come back from five- or six-point deficit, especially playing to 25 points," Fritz said. "I felt we were composed, which shows a lot of maturity and growth for this team.

"That is a really good volleyball team. Their quicks are good and their setter makes the whole thing go. She's a really good player."

Baylor's setter Taylor Barnes was just short of a triple-double with 54 assists, 14 digs and eight kills on the night. She leads the Big 12 in aces and was limited to just one on the night, but her strong serve was affective at keeping K-State out of system at times.

Four players posted double digits in kills for Baylor led by the trio of Torri Campbell, Katie Sanders and Elizabeth Graham. Breyfogle added 13 to the mix as the team combined to hit .256 compared to K-State's .137.

Fritz added her team was not able to put all the pieces together at the same time during the match to get the win over a ranked opponent. There are a number of positives she and her staff will be able to take away from the match, but her immediate feelings after the match were frustration.

"I'm very pleased with the way we started the match. We showed a lot of composure and were in control of the first set which has been lacking most of the season," Fritz said. "We got out-killed by 15 so we have to find a way to kill more balls. I'm frustrated and disappointed because we missed opportunities tonight. I will be encouraged by how we played, but not right now."

The Wildcats will be on the road for both matches this week as the second half of Big 12 play has begun. K-State travels to take on Missouri on Wednesday before heading south to play Oklahoma on Saturday. Oklahoma is offering a discounted $3 ticket for fans with a football ticket as well with K-State football playing in Norman on Saturday as well.

- k-statesports.com -