Wildcats Seek Home Win Over Tigers

Lilla Porubek

Sept. 24, 2010

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State Wildcats have a showdown with conference foe Missouri at 7 p.m. Saturday in Ahearn Field House as K-State is looking to get back in the win column after a five-set loss at Colorado on Wednesday. The Tigers come into the contest following back-to-back losses to two of the conference’s top teams in No. 11 Iowa State and No. 12 Texas.

Missouri will be the strongest team to face K-State at home this season with the Tigers receiving votes in this week’s AVCA Coaches Poll. The Wildcats are undefeated at home this season winning all five matches at Ahearn so far.

K-State’s offense showed balance in its loss to Colorado with four Wildcats posting 10 or more kills for the match. The list included career-highs for Kaitlynn Pelger (16) and Dakota Kaufman (14). The pair of freshmen also posted impressive hitting percentages with Kaufman hitting .303 and Pelger posting .500.

Saturday’s match will be part of a Wildcat Weekend with K-State hosting Central Florida in football at 11:30 a.m. at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Fans can get into the volleyball match for just $3 with their ticket stub from football. It also is the beginning of the Community Day promotions as fans from the hometowns of Taylor Johnson (Grand Island, Neb.), Audrey Horton (Topeka) and Dakota Kaufman (Hillsboro) can receive discounted tickets as well by purchasing tickets in advance. For more information contact the K-State Ticket Office at 800-221-CATS (2287).

This will be K-State’s last conference match before taking a break from Big 12 action for a mid-week game against UMKC on Tuesday night before heading south to College Station, Texas, to take on Texas A&M next Saturday.

On The Airwaves
Saturday’s match can be heard on KMAN 1350 and live online at both kstatesports.com and 1350kman.com with Brian Smoller on the call and Rob Voelker assisting with color commentary.

Live stats will be available through kstatesports.com for fans wanting to track the action live on the web. Live audio of KMAN’s broadcast will also be provided through kstatesports.com.

The Series
Kansas State has controlled the series with Missouri since Suzie Fritz took over the program in 2001. The Wildcats lead the all-time series 40-31, and Fritz is 13-5 against the Tigers. In the Big 12 era, the Wildcats are 22-6 against Missouri and lost at home just twice in the time.

Scouting the Tigers
Missouri returns a number of key players from last year’s squad and welcome one of the top high school recruits at the setter position as well. Senior outside hitter Julianna Klein has been one of Missouri’s top players her whole career and is moving up the record books at the school. Paola Ampudia made an immediate impact for the team last year as a junior college transfer and has continued her strong play for the Tigers this year, and senior libero Caitlyn Vann has been a consistent contributor on the back row for Missouri entering the season with a chance to break the school’s career digs record.

Molly Kreklow, niece of coach Wayne Kreklow, was one of the nation’s top recruits and earned the starting setter position. She was selected as the Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year. Kreklow currently leads the conference in assists per set averaging 11.66 to guide Missouri’s offense.

Kreklow is not the only Tiger among the conference leaders. Ampudia ranks third in kills averaging 3.77 per set and Brittney Brimmage is among the leaders in hitting percentage. Vann is currently third in digs averaging 4.68 per set.

The Tigers enter Saturday’s contest after losing two straight matches, but those came against two of the top teams in the conference falling to No. 11 Iowa State and No. 12 Texas both in four sets. Against Texas, the Tigers won the opening set at home and kept the remaining three tight but could not hand the Longhorns a road loss. Missouri’s offense struggled against Iowa State as the Cyclones held the Tigers to a .113 hitting percentage thanks in part to 12 blocks in the match.

The Coaches
Kansas State: Suzie Fritz (Florida Atlantic ’94) is in her 10th year as head coach of the Wildcats she is the winningest coach in the program’s history in terms of wins (190) and is not far off of the best winning percentage in school history as well at .648.

Missouri: Wayne Kreklow (Drake ‘80) is in his 11th year at Missouri and sixth as the head coach. He and his wife Susan have served as head coaches at Missouri since 2000 and averaged 20 wins a season in that time.