Wildcats Sweep Panthers

MANHATTAN, Kan. The No. 19 Kansas State Wildcats opened the Varney’s Kansas State Invitational with a sweep over a strong Northern Iowa team Friday night to improve to 8-1 on the season. K-State swept the match 25-21, 25-19, 25-18.


Senior Rita Liliom started the night off strong for the Wildcats with 10 kills in the opening set while hitting .471. The Cats out-killed the Panthers 18-13 to hold the advantage and get the win in the first set. Liliom finished the match with 16 kills and eight digs. Nataly Korobkova and JuliAnne Chisholm each added eight in Chisholm’s first start of the season.


“Rita has continued to be our most consistent attacker,” head coach Suzie Fritz said. “I’m pleased with how she’s playing and not just attacking. It’s her passing, defense and serving and she plays with a lot of passion as well.”


K-State (8-1) handed Northern Iowa (7-1) its first loss of the season as the Wildcats slowed the attack of the Panthers top players Ashten Stelken, Shannon Aschoff and Michelle Burow. Stelken tallied just six kills while Aschoff led the Panthers with 10 and Burow added 12. Amy Sampson also had eight kills.


Northern Iowa is a great defensive team. They’re very persistent and make big plays blocking,” Fritz said. “We were able to make adjustments early. We did a good job of holding both their outside hitters to under .200 and their No. 1 middle.”


The Wildcats kept the momentum going in the second set and shut the Panthers down defensively. Neither team hit for a hit percentage in the second set, but K-State held Northern Iowa to just .024 en route to the 25-19 win. The final set saw K-State pound out 14 more kills and hit at a .235 clip to Northern Iowa’s .179.


Fritz said it was a good win over a strong opponent as the Wildcats head into the final stretch of nonconference play. The Wildcats will play Cornell at noon Saturday in Ahearn Field House and close the tournament against Liberty at 7 p.m. Liberty will face Northern Iowa at 10 a.m. as the Panthers will face Cornell at 5 p.m.


In the opening match of the tournament Cornell and Liberty battled in four sets with the Lady Flames of Liberty getting the win 25-16, 25-21, 17-25, 26-24. Juliana Rogers led Cornell with 16 kills, and Liberty’s Nicki Scripko had 14.