All-Around Effort Fuels Sweep of West Virginia

Nov. 9, 2013

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K-State Athletics

MANHATTAN, Kan. - With an offense that hit over .300 and a defense that tallied 13.5 blocks and held West Virginia to a -.059 hitting percentage, the K-State volleyball team swept the Mountaineers (25-13, 25-15, 25-14) on Saturday in Ahearn Field House.

The .317 hitting percentage for the Wildcats (16-8, 4-7 Big 12) was their best in a Big 12 match since October of last season while the 13.5 blocks were the most by any Big 12 team in a three-set conference match this year.

Senior Kaitlynn Pelger paced the Wildcats with 16 kills on a season-high .619 hitting percentage. The middle blocker was the only Wildcat to record double-digit kills, but as a team, K-State had 40 kills to West Virginia's 23 for the match. Pelger also had five blocks, five digs and an ace.

Junior Taylor Johnson had a match-high eight blocks, giving her 18 over the last two matches. She fell one shy of matching the most in a Big 12 three-set match this season. She fell one block shy of matching the conference season-high for blocks in a four-set conference match when she had 10 on Wednesday at Texas Tech.

Redshirt freshman Katie Brand helped the team to an over-.300 hitting clip with 34 assists and five digs. The setter chipped in five blocks and two kills.

Freshman Kersten Kober had a team-high 12 of the Wildcats' 44 digs in the match.

"We just felt like everything was clicking; it was great," said junior Chelsea Keating, who had seven kills in the match. "Our passing was tremendous, and if it was not, our set location was great.  Everything was just running smoothly."

The win over West Virginia, coupled with the Wildcats' straight-sets victory over then-#25 Oklahoma in the last home match on November 3, marks the first time K-State has swept back-to-back Big 12 opponents at home since 2005.

"I thought we played extremely well in all phases," said head coach Suzie Fritz. "We did not have a lot of system breakdowns, so we got to play within our system. We played with great discipline, focus and tremendous energy."

The Wildcats set the tone early when they opened the first set by seizing a 13-2 advantage and forcing West Virginia to use both of its timeouts. Three straight kills by Pelger made it 7-0 before West Virginia finally got on the board with a kill by freshman Jordan Anderson. K-State responded quickly, though, by siding out with Pelger's fourth kill of the match and making it 8-1. Pelger finished the first with five kills and a .833 hitting percentage.

The closest the Mountaineers could get in the first was six points, 13-6, but a .348 hitting percentage and six blocks by the Wildcats helped them handle West Virginia for a 25-13 set victory.

In the second set, the two sides were tied at 6-6, but a 7-0 run opened the set up to a 13-6 advantage for the Wildcats. Pelger had three kills to ignite the burst and junior Gina Madonia capped the run with her only ace of the match.

"All the credit goes to our serving," said Brand. "It kept West Virginia out of system.  We got a lot of free balls, tips and rolls over the net.  We did really good job of handling those, so I was able to just stand there and set."

Brand added an ace in the third set. The Wildcats finished with three aces while the Mountaineers had one.

The Wildcats would lead by as much as 11 in the second set when Johnson and senior Courtney Traxson combined for a block to make it 20-9. K-State clinched the set with a tandem block by Brand and Pelger.

K-State had a match-high 15 kills in the third set, led by five from Pelger and four from senior Dakota Kaufman. Defensively, the Wildcats limited the Mountaineers to a -.059 hitting percentage. In each of the three sets, West Virginia had a negative hitting clip.

The Wildcats have the mid-week off before traveling to Lawrence on Saturday, November 16 to take on rival Kansas in this year's second edition of the Sunflower Showdown. First serve is at 6:30 pm in Horejsi Family Athletics Center.