K-State Volleyball Falls Short

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. In a hostile environment Saturday night, the No. 14 Wildcats battled in a tight match with the 25th ranked Purdue Boilermakers at the Mortar Board Premier but could not come away with the road win falling 3-1. Kansas State and Purdue fought back and forth throughout the match, but the Wildcats came just short of getting coach Suzie Fritz a milestone victory.

A see-saw battle ensued to open the match with both teams making runs to take a sizeable lead multiple times. But it was Purdue’s two 3-0 runs following a K-State run of four points near the end of the match that prevailed to get win the opening set 25-23.

The Wildcats (2-1) and Boilermakers (3-0) both hit .125 for the set as K-State knocked out 14 kills to Purdue’s 12, but the Wildcats had two more attack errors. Purdue’s Danita Merlau matched K-State’s Rita Liliom with six kills apiece to highlight action early on.

In the second set, it was more of the same with 13 ties and six lead changes during the set. This time around, however, it was a late run by K-State that proved to be the advantage. Down 19-20 in the second set, the Wildcats went on a 4-0 run to go up 23-20 and provide enough cushion to get the 25-22 win.

The K-State offense changed gears in the second set with Nataly Korobkova providing most of the attack. She had seven kills and hit .385 while the team combined to hit .394 for the set compared to Purdue’s .226. The Wildcats out-killed the Boilers 16-11.

During the third set the teams traded blows again as Purdue went on a 7-1 run to come from behind and take a 13-12 lead. The Wildcats answered with a 5-0 run of their own to reclaim the lead 17-14. The Boilers battled back to tie the set at 19-19. The Wildcats took the lead but saw Purdue make another late rally with five straight points to claim the set 25-23 and go up 2-1.

The Boilermakers spread their offense around with three players finishing with double-digit kills. Merlau led the way with 16 while Stephanie Lynch and Kristi Arthurs had 15 and 10 respectively. Korobkova led the Wildcats with 16 kills and Liliom had 14 kills will 12 digs for her first double-double of the season.

K-State could not out-do the Boilermakers in the fourth set as Purdue never gave up the lead. The Cats tied the match five times but could not get over the hump denying coach Suzie Fritz her 150th career win.

The Boilermakers out-hit the Wildcats .216 to .177 with 53 kills. K-State was also out-done at the net defensively as Purdue had more blocks for the match. Junior college transfer setter Soriana Pacheco saw her first significant time this season after coming in late in the first set and playing the remainder of the match.

Korobkova and Liliom were both named to the All-Tournament Team as well for their performances over the weekend.