Wildcats Eclipse Sun Devils 3-0

PORTLAND, Ore. Kansas State head coach Suzie Fritz followed her milestone 150th victory with another one against a familiar face in Arizona State coach Jason Watson. The Wildcats swept the Sun Devils 25-22, 25-21, 25-22.

 

Fritz and Watson were assistant coaches together early in their careers at Kansas State and she said getting the win over the Sun Devils showed the resiliency of her team.

 

“Playing against Jason was just like playing any other coach in that I want my team to win and he wants his team to win,” Fritz said. “He is a wonderful volleyball coach and a great friend. I want his team to have success this season.”

 

After the pregame handshake, Fritz and the Wildcats had to battle from behind in each set before getting the win and took advantage of their strong blocking to get the sweep.

 

K-State (4-1) out-blocked Arizona State (3-2) 12 to 5.5 with the strongest blocking by the team in a three-set match this season. Megan Farr continued her climb up the career blocking records with a solo stop and six block assists. Setter Soriana Pacheco also showed her ability to defend at the net assisting on seven blocks.

 

“I thought our assistant coach Jeff Grove made a great tactical adjustment against them during the match,” Fritz said. “We did a decent job of executing and came up with some big blocks. Megan Farr had a number of blocks that were key to winning the match.”

 

The Wildcats came out of the gates struggling against the Sun Devils in their first-ever meeting with Arizona State trailing 6-1 early in the opening set. K-State stormed back scoring seven of the next eight points to pull ahead 8-7. After claiming the lead, the Cats would not give it back to the Sun Devils en route to a 25-22 win.

 

In the first set, Rita Liliom continued her hot streak with four kills and four digs. Fellow senior outside hitter Nataly Korobkova tallied five kills on a .333 hitting clip for the Wildcats to pace the team early. The Cats out-hit ASU .257 to .185 in the first set to get the advantage.

 

Korobkova led the team in kills with 13 and hit .370 for the match as the Wildcats had just 10 attack errors against the Sun Devils. Liliom also contributed 11 kills.

 

For the match the Wildcats were out-killed by the Sun Devils 42-39 but with a number of errors from ASU and the solid blocking front were able to get the win. K-State held ASU to a team hitting percentage of .181 for the match compared to its own .271.

 

Trailing again the second set K-State was able to put together a big rally of five consecutive points to pull within striking distance at 15-16. With the second set tied at 18-18, the Wildcats pulled ahead and built a small lead and held off the Sun Devils. K-State outscored ASU 15-5 to close the door and take a 2-0 advantage into the locker room at the intermission.

 

The Arizona State attack was slowed by a strong showing by the Wildcats blocking to hit .000 percent. K-State had five blocks in the second set alone combined with 12 Sun Devil kills and errors. K-State had just two errors and nine kills in the set.

 

In the third set, the Wildcats had to put together another late rally to get the win and seal the victory. After wining the first point of the set, the Cats did not lead again until taking a 20-19 advantage. K-State chipped away at the Sun Devil lead with one of its better hitting performances of the season to day. The Wildcats combined to hit .342 and had just one attack error in the third set.

 

“When we were in a bad position, we did a decent job of not forcing a lot of errors,” Fritz said. “We talk about that a lot with our team and that was a very positive thing. When the situation was bad, not to force it and make good decisions.”

 

The No. 20 Wildcats return to the Chiles Center to take on host Portland at 9:30 p.m. CST with the match being aired on 1350 KMAN. Live streaming video will also be available online. For more information on video streaming visit www.portlandpilots.com.

 

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