K-State Forces Fifth Set, Loses to West Virginia

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MANHATTAN, Kan. - The K-State volleyball team forced a fifth set after losing the first two sets, but West Virginia blocked a Wildcat attack for match point in the fifth to help beat K-State, 3-2 (25-20, 25-21, 14-25, 21-25, 15-13), on Saturday in Ahearn Field House.

The Wildcats (22-8, 9-7 Big 12) trailed for most of the first set and allowed eight-straight points to see its four-point lead late in the second disappear, but K-State responded by holding a West Virginia attack, which hit over .300 over the first two sets, to a near-.000 hitting percentage over the third and fourth to even the match. The Wildcats were unable to climb out of their hole in the fifth, even fighting off West Virginia's first match point at 14-12, before falling for first time against West Virginia (16-14, 6-10 Big 12) in Manhattan.

"Two things: [West Virginia was] better at the pins and more in rhythm," said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz about the first two sets. "We came down [to the locker room] for the break, and they had all of their pin hitters, [Nikki] Attea, [Jordan] Anderson and [Hannah] Sackett, hitting .300. We felt like we had a pretty decent block in front of them, but they were working the edges of the block really well."

K-State held the advantage in blocks for the match, 14.0-10.0, but it was the final block of the night that went against the Wildcats.

Freshman Kylee Zumach powered the K-State offense with 17 kills on a .361 hitting percentage, her personal-best in a Big 12 match. Three other Wildcats, Brooke Sassin (13), Chelsea Keating (12) and Katie Reininger (10), joined Zumach in double-figures in kills, but K-State was out-killed by West Virginia, 65-61.

Redshirt sophomore Katie Brand recorded her career-high 20th double-double of the season with 51 assists and 13 digs. The setter also had a team-best seven blocks to help give K-State its 17th match this season with 10 or more stuffs.

Sophomore Kersten Kober had a team-best 18 digs while senior Gina Madonia contributed 10.

Anderson had a match-high 26 kills for West Virginia while Attea (13) and Sackett (10) also helped fuel the Mountaineer offense.

The defeat resulted in K-State finishing fifth in the Big 12 standings. Iowa State, Kansas and Oklahoma all finished in a tie for second with 10-6 records.

After allowing West Virginia to hit .484 in the first set, K-State fired out of the gate in the second by seizing a 7-2 lead and forcing the Mountaineers to call an early timeout. The Wildcat advantage swelled to as much as 11-4, but West Virginia slowly drained the K-State lead behind a combined 14 kills from Anderson, Attea and Sackett. The Mountaineers eventually gained control in the second when they scored eight-straight points after K-State held a 19-15 advantage. The Wildcats could only close it within two at 23-21 before the Mountaineers hammered in back-to-back kills to win the set. 

K-State rushed out again to start the third, taking an 8-3 lead before West Virginia called its first timeout. The attempt to stop the momentum did not work, though, as the Wildcats went on to hit .385 over the set while holding the Mountaineers to a -.100 clip. Keating had six of K-State's 13 kills in the third while Zumach contributed three on six attempts. Five blocks by K-State defense, though, including three during its 12-3 run to end the set, helped the Wildcats win the third by double-digits.

In the fourth, neither side led by as much as three until the final point. One of Reininger's 10 kills broke an 18-18 tie and gave K-State an advantage it would not relinquish over the remainder of the set. However, after a kill by Sassin went on to make it 20-18, West Virginia scored two points following its final timeout to even it at 20-all. Sassin answered with a kill to break the tie and help lead K-State to score five of the final six points. Reininger had two block assists over the set-ending run until back-to-back West Virginia attack errors closed it out.

K-State will learn its postseason fate on Sunday evening as the participants in the 2014 NCAA Tournament will be announced during the Selection Show on ESPNU at 7:30 pm.

With the addition of her seven blocks, Katie Brand became the fourth Wildcat in school history to join the Quadruple-Triple Club (100 kills, assists, digs and blocks). The redshirt sophomore has 1,249 assists, 308 digs, 109 kills and 101 blocks this year. 

K-State's total home attendance of 30,759 is the second-highest ever for a season in program history (31,223 in 2003).

The Wildcats' 328.0 blocks this year are their most since 2007 when they set the program-record with 357.5.