Wildcats Set to Battle Buffaloes at Home

Colorado  vs. No. 18 Kansas State
Date: September 20, 2008
Location: Manhattan, Kan.
Arena: Ahearn Field House

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- The Wildcats close their first week of Big 12 Conference action against the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday night at Ahearn Field House. The teams take to the court at 7 p.m. with Kansas State looking to avoid opening league play 0-2 and the Buffaloes eyeing a 2-0 start after snapping a three-match losing streak on Wednesday.

K-State comes into the weekend matchup following a 1-3 loss to No. 2 Nebraska. The Wildcats are leading the Big 12 in kills at 14.24 per set and have the second-highest hitting percentage. The Cats are hitting at a rate of .273 behind the .316 of the No. 3 Texas Longhorns. Colorado ranks seventh in kills and sixth in hitting percentage among Big 12 teams.

The Series
Colorado holds the edge in the all-time series at 25-18, but K-State has won 14 of the 24 matches since the inception of the Big 12 Conference and eight of the last 12. The Wildcats won both meetings last year after dropping both to Colorado in 2006. The longest winning streak for the Wildcats in the series is five matches from 2001-2003. Colorado dominated the series early with winning 14 consecutive matches from 1988-94.

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.

Colorado: Pi’i Aiu (Colorado 89) has led the Buffaloes for 11 years and is the program’s winningest coach. He is seven wins shy of reaching the 200 milestone. Colorado has reached the NCAA Tournament every year but two under Aiu.

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

The match 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 Buffaloes
Colorado opened the season at 6-0 and have struggled a bit since. After sweeping through the Mississippi State Classic and handling all three opponents at a tournament hosted by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the Buffaloes dropped all three matches at their Colorado Invitational in four sets to No. 21 Colorado State, No. 8 Florida and North Carolina.

The Buffaloes opened Big 12 play with a win over Kansas in five sets on the road. Colorado claimed the first set and lost the next two by scores of 28-26 and  25-15. The Buffs responded with 26-14 and 15-12 wins to snatch the victory away from the Jayhawks and keep them from winning three in a row over the Buffaloes.

Colorado is led by Alex Buth offensively as she is hitting .291 and averaging 3.08 kps. The pair of Lauren Schaefer and Emilee Sisco are averaging 2.55 and 2.47 kps to help Colorado post 13.28 kps as a team. Schaefer posted one perfect match on the season getting eight kills on eight attacks against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Schaefer also ranks eighth in school history in career blocks.

Kaitlyn Burkett coordinates the attack as the setter averaging 10.22 assists per set. She also has the ability to make the attack herself averaging 1.03 kps. Callie Webster paces the team defensively from the libero position with 3.72 digs per set. She has posted back-to-back matches with at least 20 digs with a season-high 25 against North Carolina dn 23 against Kansas.

Colorado has been able to distribute the attack around with four players averaging at least 2.10 kps. Buth Schaefer and Sisco are joined by Alex Penewell at 2.10 kps as Penewell has tallied 21 kills in limited action off the bench. The freshman had a career-high 14 kills against KU and hit at a .600 clip for the match.

The Buffaloes are undefeated in three-set matches but have struggled as the matches extend. Colorado is 1-3 in matches going four sets and won their only five-set match of the season.

Catching up with the Cats
The Wildcats dropped their last match Wednesday against rival No. 2 Nebraska. After falling in the first set 25-18, K-State battled back with a win in the second set to take the momentum with them into the locker room at intermission. The third set went back and forth before the Cornhuskers took the lead 23-22 after a controversial replay. Nebraska took the fourth set 25-19 to escape Ahearn with a win.

The loss to Nebraska was just the third time the Wildcats have lost their Big 12 opener under head coach Suzie Fritz. Two of those loses have come to Nebraska.

Against the Cornhuskers, senior outside hitter Rita Liliom had her fourth double-double of the season with 11 kills and 10 digs. It was fellow senior Nataly Korobkova, however, who led the attack with 15 kills. Lauren Mathewson had her fifth match with at least 15 digs posting 17 for the match.

Liliom is leading the Big 12 in kills averaging 4.34 kps. Iowa State’s Victoria Henson is closest behind her at 4.17 kps. Liliom also ranks 10th in the nation individually in the category. As a team, the Wildcats rank seventh in the nation.

K-State is among the top teams in the nation in a number of other categories coming in at 19th in blocks per set averaging 2.72 bps. The team’s .291 hitting percentage at the start of the week ranks 13th.

A number of individuals also rank among the best with their competitors. Middle blocker Megan Farr is 12th in the nation in hitting percentage and 25th in blocks.