Wildcats Slow Roadrunners

MANHATTAN, Kan. For the 16th year in a row the Kansas State Wildcats won their home opener at Ahearn Field House. The No. 19 Wildcats bested Cal State Bakersfield in four sets 25-23, 23-25, 25-15, 25-21 to improve to 7-1 on the year heading into the Varney’s Kansas State Invitational this weekend.


Although the Wildcats won the match and out-killed the Roadrunners (3-5) 66-55, head coach Suzie Fritz said her team was not performing up to their own expectations.


“We weren’t close to meeting what we’re capable of,” Fritz said. “We weren’t bettering the ball. They were winning the receiving battle, but we were more physical at the net, and I thought that was the difference in the match.”


The Wildcats out-blocked the Runners by nearly 10 blocks for the match to command the net and hit at a .329 clip as a team while CSUB hit .209.


K-State was again led by senior outside hitter Rita Liliom with 21 kills. Liliom hit .283 on 53 attempts and had six errors. Backing up her Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week award, middle blocker Kelsey Chipman again had a perfect night attacking without a single error. Chipman has gone five matches without an error. She pounded out 12 kills on 17 attempts to hit .706.


The first two sets of the match went back and forth between the Cats and Runners as each squeaked out a win to knot the match heading into the intermission. K-State came out firing from the locker room to win the third set by 10 points and hold CSUB to just a .026 hitting percentage.


Cal State Bakersfield kept the Wildcats off balance for part of the match with its strong serves and quick set attacks, but Fritz and her team were able to adjust and overcome the Roadrunners.


“They were by far the most aggressive serving team we’ve faced,” Fritz said. “It was difficult to get into a rhythm offensively.”


The Wildcats will host the Varney’s Kansas State Invitational beginning Friday with Cornell, Liberty and Northern Iowa coming to Ahearn to participate.