Wildcats Best Bears at Packed Ahearn

Caitlyn Donahue

Oct. 27, 2012

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – On Homecoming Weekend the Wildcats made it 2-0 as the volleyball team bested the Baylor Lady Bears after the football team sent No. 15 Texas Tech away with a loss earlier in the day. The No. 16 Wildcats got the win in four sets 25-16, 25-20, 23-25, 25-17 and saw the team use its defense to create offense.

“I thought we played extremely well. We let Game 3 set slip away from us a bit there, but we gained the momentum back and played really well. We really played quite well minus about six points,” said K-State Head Coach Suzie Fritz. “I loved our transition game. I thought our blocking was tight and I thought we did a nice job of touching and turning balls in transition. I am exceptionally proud of them for that because that is something that we have been working on a lot.”

Senior opposite Kathleen Ludwig got the hot hand early in the match and kept it going as she pounded out a team high 15 kills on the night. She added seven digs and four blocks to put together one of her more complete matches of the season.

The Wildcats (20-3, 7-3) posted 9.5 blocks on the night and the blockers touched a number of other balls at the net to slow them down and enable the defense to handle the ball easier and transition into offense as Fritz said. Thanks to that, two more players joined Ludwig with double digit kills as Kaitlynn Pelger tallied 12 kills and Alex Muff added 10 to defeat Baylor (16-9, 3-7).

Pelger had another double-double as she had 15 digs on the night. A total of four Wildcats had 11 or more digs with libero Kuulei Kabalis leading with 16 digs. Junior Tristan McCarty had 11 digs, and senior setter Caitlyn Donahue had a double-double with 11 digs and 51 assists.

Baylor was led by Zoe Adom with 12 kills but she was limited to hitting just .103. Adom was the only Bear to reach double digits as the Wildcats were able to slow Alyssa Dibbern to only seven and middle blocker Torri Campbell to nine kills.

Ludwig said Donahue played a big role in her being able to have a big night for the Wildcats as well as the rest of the offense.

“I felt like I was in a really good rhythm. Donahue was giving me really good transition swings and that is something that I have been working on,” Ludwig said. “Caitlyn did a great job of balancing our offense and not putting all the pressure on one person’s shoulders.”

The Wildcats used small runs early in the first and second sets to build leads and then short runs again late would put them out of reach.

It was a different story in the third set as the Bears were able to overcome a 23-20 deficit and win the set 25-23 by scoring five straight points. Baylor took advantage of a service error by K-State and answered with a kill by Adom to grab the momentum.

After dropping the third set, K-State responded by opening up a 16-10 lead in the fourth. Baylor would attempt to chip away at the lead with a 3-0 run but it was too little too late and K-State would extend the lead again to as many as eight points.

K-State offered $1 tickets to Saturday’s match as part of a Pack the Field House promotion and nearly 3,000 fans came to Ahearn to cheer on the Wildcats to victory on Homecoming. Pelger said it was another great crowd to play for and thanked the fans for their continued support of the volleyball program.

“We weren’t really sure how many people were going to come (after the football game) and all of a sudden everyone was here. We looked up and everyone was cheering,” Pelger said. “We always talk about how amazing the atmosphere is here. It really does affect us and how we play. They get the other team rattled and that really helps us.”

The Wildcats will have another midweek bye on Wednesday with their next match coming on Friday when they play at No. 8 Texas at 7 p.m. The match will be broadcast on the Longhorn Network.