No. 23 K-State Swept by Kansas at Home

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MANHATTAN, Kan. - The No. 23 K-State volleyball had its losing streak stretched to three matches on Wednesday as the Wildcats were swept by in-state rival Kansas, 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-21), in Ahearn Field House.

K-State (20-6, 7-5 Big 12) led late in both of the first and second sets and attempted a last-ditch comeback in the third, but the Wildcats fell short in now their third straight loss to Kansas at home. 

The Wildcats' overall three-match losing streak is their longest since dropping four in a row to end the 2012 season.

"We did not have much of an answer for their left sides," said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz. "We just could not slow them down and build momentum on our side. In addition, we did not win the serving and receiving battle. Kansas outplayed us in a lot of areas tonight. Our inconsistencies in some areas right now became pretty magnified."

The Wildcats had difficulties containing the offense of the Jayhawks (19-7, 7-5 Big 12), which hit .342 through the first two sets and finished with a .299 hitting percentage for the match. K-State's offense, meanwhile, hit .262 in the first but closed the match with a .231 hitting percentage on the night. The Jayhawks had only five unforced attack errors on their 127 attempts.

"Defense has to start with the serve," said Fritz. "We have to put the other team in more difficult positions to return...that will help our defensive package come together."

Freshman Kylee Zumach led K-State in kills for the 16th match this season as the outside hitter had 14 on a .282 hitting percentage. Redshirt sophomore Katie Reininger was errorless on her 16 attempts, recording her 10 kills on a .625 clip.

"I think we did not come out full cylinder," said Reininger. "We did not have the energy that we normally have. We have to be better at the little plays and be cleaner."

Redshirt sophomore Katie Brand led the Wildcats with 34 assists while also adding nine digs, five kills and three blocks. 

K-State controlled nearly the entire first set, taking as much as a six-point lead on a kill by Zumach that made it 14-8. Kansas, though, went on a 5-1 run, using three kills, a K-State blocking error and a block of their own to force the Wildcats to call a timeout at 15-13. The Jayhawks would pull within one four times before a kill by Reininger put the Wildcats ahead 21-19. Kansas answered by scoring three straight points to take the lead, 22-21, and finished out the set with kills on three of the final four points.

The Wildcats led for the early portion of the second set as well, but the Jayhawks began their rally after K-State held a four-point lead at 15-11. The Wildcats fought off the Jayhawks, until, at 18-16 K-State, Kansas went on a 5-0 run to take its first lead since it scored the first point of the set. Sara McClinton, who had a match-high 18 kills on a .500 hitting percentage, had two kills over the Jayhawk burst. 

K-State did pull within one at 21-20 after a kill by Brooke Sassin and solo block by Brand, but the Jayhawks closed out the set by scoring four of the final five points.

In the third, Kansas out-killed K-State, 18-13, to hold command of set, with McClinton (nine) and Tiana Dockery (seven) combining for 16 of the kills. 

The Wildcats trailed by as much as five points in the final set. K-State pulled closer, however, after it trailed 20-15 when a Jayhawk service error followed by back-to-back K-State blocks forced Kansas to call a timeout. McClinton quickly followed with a kill, but a kill by Reininger and an unforced attack error by Kansas trimmed the deficit to one, 21-20. Kansas responded, though, with a pair of kills to help tally four of the final five points.

K-State returns to the road for its next match when it takes on Baylor in Waco on Saturday, November 15 at 7 p.m. The Wildcats lost in five sets to the Bears in their Big 12 opener earlier this season.

"We have to have the mindset that we are going to win the next one on the road - we have to if we are going to be better," said Reininger. "We do not need to come out and be this amazing team that we were not the day before, but we just need to get a little bit better every single day and that starts with practice."

The loss by K-State snaps a seven-year run in which the winner of the first meeting in a season in the Sunflower Showdown went on to win the second match as well. The last time K-State and Kansas split the season series was 2006.

Kylee Zumach has 351 kills on the season, which are the fourth-most in K-State history by a freshman. Zumach passed Mary Kinsey (348 in 1984) on the all-time list.

Katie Brand's 34 assists give her 2,135 in her career as the redshirt sophomore moved into K-State's all-time top 10 for career assists. Brand is ninth on the list, trailing Leslie Kull and her 2,142 helpers for eighth-place.