Wildcats Break Bears

MANHATTAN, Kan. The No. 17 Kansas State Wildcats ended the Wildcat Weekend in Manhattan in style with a 3-1 win over conference foe Baylor. The Wildcats handed the Bears their first loss in Big 12 Conference action and rode the momentum of big plays and a lively crowd to victory.


With the match tied at one set apiece and Set Three tied at 20-20, the Wildcats came up with one of those plays.


Senior outside hitter Rita Liliom went for a kill on the left side and was blocked back over her shoulder. She turned in mid-air and kicked the ball back into the air as she landed for the team’s first touch following the Baylor block. Setter Abby Fay lofted the ball up for Liliom again, and she killed in the back-right corner to go up 21-20. K-State won four of the next five points to win the set and take the momentum into the fourth.


“It is a momentum play. It’s an effort play that gives your team a sense of urgency,” said head coach Suzie Fritz.


Liliom led the team with 18 kills but struggled with 10 attack errors. Senior middle blocker Megan Farr added 10 kills on the night as Nataly Korobkova had 11 as well. Lauren Mathewson came just short of her career-high in digs with 20. Liliom had a double-double with 13 digs. Setters Soriana Pacheco and Abby Fay split time as Fay led with 26 assists and Pacheco had 21.


Both teams came out firing hitting over .300 in the first set. The Wildcats got the edge 25-21 with a .375 hitting percentage. The second set was all Baylor as the Wildcats had one of their worst sets of the season hitting just .033 compared to the Bears’ .429 as Baylor got the win 25-19.


After K-State (13-2, 3-1 Big 12) won the third set riding the momentum from Liliom’s kick save and kill, the Wildcats bested the Bears 25-20 in the fourth set for the win. Fritz said her team had a strong week handing Texas A&M its first home loss of the season earlier and giving the Bears (11-3, 3-1) their first blemish in conference play.


“We played very well at A&M on Wednesday and I felt like we played well enough tonight,” Fritz said. “Baylor has a difficult offense to defend with a double quick play. I thought we served well but we couldn’t get them out of system as easily. We had a pretty good week. I’m starting to feel things are beginning to get where we need them to be.”


Fritz added the win was not pretty but it counts no matter how it came and believes Baylor could shake things up in the Big 12 standings this season.


“It was not a smooth win for us tonight but we got it done,” she said. “I don’t think you have the luxury of playing poorly and still beating someone in the Big 12. Baylor is a very good team and they’re going to get some people, and I’m glad it’s not us tonight.”