Wildcats Win Varney's Invitational

MANHATTAN, Kan. The Kansas State Wildcats bested the Liberty Lady Flames in four sets Saturday night to win the Varney’s Kansas State Invitational with a perfect 3-0 record. The Wildcats claimed the victory 25-10, 22-25, 25-22, 25-12 to improve to 10-1 in their nonconference slate and move on to Big 12 Conference play Wednesday.


K-State was led by outside hitter Rita Liliom with 18 kills and a .325 hitting percentage. For her effort throughout the weekend she was named the tournament MVP with 46 kills and averaged 4.60 kills per set. Coach Suzie Fritz said Liliom played a solid tournament but she was happy with how her team bounced back after dropping the second set to Liberty.


“Game Two was a bit of a let down,” Fritz said. “Sometimes you say you don’t want to beat a team that bad in the first set because you’re afraid of losing intensity in the next set. After the second set, I like how we bounced back and played hard at the end of Game Four. I felt that was as hard as we’ve played on defense all year.”


Defensively, the No. 19 Wildcats held the Lady Flames (8-2) to just a .138 hitting percentage as sophomore libero Lauren Mathewson had 10 digs. Leslie Townsend added 10 digs as well, and Liliom contributed 13 digs for another double-double. Mathewson also earned all-tournament team recognition for her performance on the weekend.


Two more players joined Liliom with at least 10 kills and Megan Farr and Kelsey Chipman each had 10 in the win. Farr had just one attack error and hit .643 on her way to the all-tournament team as well.


Liberty’s Jessica Nelson had 14 kills and Nicki Scripko added 12. Chelaine McCarty struggled with just seven but her performance earlier in the tournament was enough for her to be named to the all-tournament team.


In the second set K-State dropped, neither team put together a long rally as the Wildcats and Flames battled with 16 ties and four lead changes before Liberty edged out the Cats 25-22. K-State responded by winning another see-saw battle in the third set and closing the door strongly with a 25-12 victory in the fourth set.


The match also marks the end of one of the nation’s longest streaks. Saturday night marked the first time in 297 matches the Wildcats did not register a service ace. The streak dates back to November 13, 1998, in a 3-1 win over Missouri. The last time K-State failed to get an ace was on Nov. 7, 1998 against Colorado.


“One of the identities of a K-State team is we want to be known as an aggressive serving team,” Fritz said. “I didn’t even know about the streak until someone just told me. It’s nice, but I’d rather win matches. As long as we’re winning matches, I’m happy.”


The Wildcats begin the next phase of their schedule when they host No. 2 Nebraska on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Ahearn Field House. Fans are encouraged to help “Keep the Red Out” and fill the stands. Following the match, fans can stick around to watch the K-State vs. Louisville football game on a projection screen at Ahearn Field House on tape delay without commercials.


Varney’s Kansas State Invitational All-Tournament Team

Rita Liliom, Kansas State MVP

Megan Farr, Kansas State

Lauren Mathewson, Kansas State

Shannon Aschoff, Northern Iowa

Ashten Stelken, Northern Iowa

Chelaine McCarty, Liberty

Megan Mushovic, Cornell