Wildcats face rival Nebraska Cornhuskers

The Wildcats open Big 12 Conference play against rival Nebraska at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Ahearn Field House. The Cornhuskers enter the contest ranked second in the nation with an undefeated 8-0 record. Kansas State rides the wave of an eight-match winning streak into the match fresh off a win of the Varney’s Kansas State Invitational.

Nebraska won its own tournament this weekend as well defeating LSU and New Mexico. The Cornhuskers have swept every one of their opponents but one -- besting No. 4 USC in four sets. Nebraska opened the season in the Runza/AVCA Showcase and defeated No. 2 Stanford and USC.

K-State ran through the field at the Varney’s Invitational with sweeps over Northern Iowa and Cornell before beating Liberty in four sets. Rita Liliom earned tournament MVP honors averaging 4.79 kills per set for the week.

The last time Nebraska came to Manhattan the Wildcats jumped to a 2-0 lead claiming the first two sets 30-24, 30-27. The Huskers were able to rally and come from behind to win the match taking the next three sets 32-30, 30-28, 15-10 and Nebraska escaped its fourth loss to K-State.

The Series
The Wildcats and Cornhuskers have tangled 77 times on the volleyball court with Nebraska dropping just three of those meetings to K-State. The first time Kansas State defeated Nebraska came in 1999 in similar fashion to the match in Manhattan last year. K-State fell behind 2-0 to Nebraska before winning the next three sets for the win. K-State swept the series in 2003 winning in five sets in Lincoln and four sets in Manhattan. Since K-State’s last win over Nebraska, the Cornhuskers have taken the last eight matches.

The Coaches
Kansas State: Suzie Fritz (Florida Atlantic 94) is in her eighth season leading the Wildcats. She holds the highest winning percentage in school history and is 12 wins shy of taking the top spot at K-State.

Nebraska: John Cook (San Diego 79) has led the Cornhuskers to two national championships since taking over the program in 2000. In his eight years with Nebraska, the team has lost just six Big 12 Conference matches.

On the Airwaves
Wednesday’s matche will be broadcast on 1350 KMAN with Brian Smoller calling the action and KMAN’s Rob Voelker with color commentary.

The matches will also be webcast and fans can catch the action by logging into the Powercat Passport at www.k-statesports.com. Fans can sign up for the service on the site and monthly packages are available. Live stats will be available for all matches on the athletic department’s site as well.

Scouting the Cornhuskers
Nebraska had the tough task of replacing four All-Americans from last year’s team and have not shown any signs of being off the pace. The Cornhuskers opened the season ranked No. 7 in the nation and quickly rocketed up to No. 2 after wins over No. 2 Stanford and No. 4 USC.

The Huskers are led by Jordan Larson, who is averaging 3.52 kills per set and also contributing 2.76 digs. Larson had 14 kills in a 3-0 win over LSU this weekend and added nine in a win over New Mexico. She is joined by Tara Mueller on the attack with 3.20 kps. Kori Cooper leads the team with a .424 hitting percentage. Sydney Anderson leads the team with 11.16 assists per set. The sophomore opened her career at Nebraska by being named Big 12 Rookie of the Week twice to start the season. Anderson transferred to Nebraska after playing the 2006 season with Utah and training with the U.S. National Team in 2007.

Nebraska is keeping its opponents at bay holding them to a .123 hitting percentage while killing the ball at a .276 rate of its own. No team has hit over .200 against the Cornhuskers as Stanford’s .194 is the highest percentage Nebraska has allowed. Nebraska out-hit the Cardinal by 30 points to get the sweep.

The Cornhuskers open Big 12 play with arguably the toughtest slate of the week opening on the road against K-State -- picked to finish third in the conference -- and closing with No. 3 Texas at home. The Longhorns were the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 title.

Catching Up with the Cats
The Wildcats won their own Varney’s Kansas State Invitational this weekend winning all three matches over Northern Iowa, Cornell and Liberty. K-State opened the week with a win over Cal State Bakersfield as well.

K-State began the tournament with a sweep over Northern Iowa. The Panthers entered the match undefeated at 7-0 and coming off a win over Iowa State. The Cyclones were receiving votes in the Top 25 Poll at the time. The Wildcats held Northern Iowa to .142 hitting as a team and did not allow a service ace to fall for the Panthers. Rita Liliom led the team with 16 kills in the match.

Against Cornell, the Wildcats had their highest offensive production of the season hitting .396 as a team. Liliom again led in kills with 12, but the performance of the rest of the team helped boost the percentage so high. The team had a total of eight attack errors in the match -- six from Liliom. Of the eight players that registered kills in the match five of them did not commit and error. Megan Farr hit an amazing .889 with eight kills on nine swings. Jenny Jantsch hit .400 with seven kills and an error on 15 attacks. JuliAnne Chisholm added five kills on 10 attempts.

The Wildcats bested defending Big South Conference champion Liberty in four sets to close the weekend as Liliom marked her third double-double of the season. She led the team in kills and digs with 18 and 13 respectively. Farr and Kelsey Chipman added 10 kills apiece for the match.

Liliom was named the tournament’s MVP with Farr and Lauren Mathewson joining her on the all-tournament team. Farr averaged 2.60 kps during the tournament and hit at a .611 clip. Mathewson tallied 34 digs over the three matches.

Best Place to Watch the Game?
If fans are looking for a place to watch the Kansas State -Louisville football game, why not watch it at  Ahearn Field House? The Union Program Council is inviting fans to watch the game at the field house following the volleyball match. Projection screens will be put up in on the floor and the game will be shown without commercials until catching up with the live broadcast on ESPN2.

Liliom Named Big 12 POW
Senior outside hitter Rita Liliom earned the second Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week award for the Wildcats for her performance during the Varney’s Kansas State Invitational in addition to the win over Cal State Bakersfield. Liliom averaged 4.79 kps for the week and had her third double-double of the season. She hit .272 for the week and averaged 2.50 digs.