Wildcats Win Sunflower Showdown

LAWRENCE, Kan. In their first five-set match of the season the Kansas State Wildcats came away with a win on the road over rival Kansas in the Sunflower Showdown. Kansas State recovered from a poor fourth set to fire away at the Jayhawks in the fifth set and get the win 22-25, 25-19, 25-18, 18-25, 15-9.


Senior Nataly Korobkova led the Wildcats with a season-high 20 kills. She surpassed her previous high of 17 against UC Irvine. Fellow senior Jenny Jantsch also had her best match of the season with her second double-double. Jantsch also tied her season-high in kills at 11 and digs with 12.


Jantsch came up with a big play early in the fifth set to force a KU timeout and pull ahead by three points. On a tip attack by the Jayhawks (7-7, 1-4 Big 12), Jantsch went low for the dig, popped back up quickly and Soriana Pacheco set the ball to Jantsch and she killed the ball on a long tip to the back corner where she got a number of her kills. The kill and dig on the play were season highs for Jantsch.


Junior middle blocker Kelsey Chipman came alive in the fifth set with back-to-back blocks for K-State (14-2, 4-1) to move ahead 8-4 when the teams switched sides of the net. The teams traded points back and forth after the Wildcats made it 9-4, and the Jayhawks dug themselves a hole with a service error to make the score 13-8 Wildcats. Another kill by Korobkova made it 14-9, and an error by Kansas was the final point giving the Wildcats the win.


Head coach Suzie Fritz said her team waited until the end to play strong, but it was just in time.


“We played very well in Game 5,” Fritz said. “If you’re going to play well, the fifth game is a good time to do it.”


The last time the two teams played to five sets in Lawrence was in 2004, with the Wildcats winning that contest as well. K-State has won four five-set matches in a row in Lawrence. The last time a Sunflower Showdown went five sets and the Wildcats came up empty was November 16, 1994.


The two in-state rivals battled back and forth with 13 ties and five lead changes in the first set. With the opening stanza tied at 17-17 the Wildcats went on a run pull ahead 22-18. The Jayhawks would answer with a run of their own outscoring the Wildcats 7-0 to win the opening set and energize the home crowd.


The Wildcats struggled to get into a rhythm and hit just .067 in the first set compared to KU’s .207. K-State had more kills than Kansas 14 to 11, but had 11 errors to help give the Jayhawks the early lead.


In the second set the Wildcats settled down a bit and built a 14-8 lead on a five-point run only to see it disappear when the Jayhawks went on a six-point run of their own to tie the set. After the run by Kansas, K-State scored five of the next six points to build a 19-15 lead and force a KU timeout. Out of the timeout the teams traded blows before the Wildcats ended the match 25-19 with three kills in a row by Jenny Jantsch.


The roles were reversed in the second set with KU hitting under .100 as a team and the Wildcats hitting .214. Korobkova added four kills to bring her total to nine after the first two sets. Jantsch had seven kills and seven digs at the intermission after four kills on six swings in the second set.


Korobkova and Jantsch each stayed hot in the third set for the Wildcats. Jantsch notched her 10th kill of the match to make the score 17-13 and force a KU timeout. The 10 kills matched her season-high against UC Irvine at the Nike Portland Invitational.


Coming out of the timeout Korobkova added a service ace and Jantsch added one of her own to add to her legacy as one of the best servers in K-State history. The Wildcats ended the set on a 10-5 run to get the win 25-18 and lead two sets to one heading into the fourth.


Korobkova kept the heat coming on the Jayhawks scoring four of K-State’s first six points on kills. But the Jayhawks responded big with an 11-0 run to pull ahead 14-7 after the Wildcats led 7-3. KU had three aces during the run and tallied five kills. It was all Jayhawks from that point on as KU extended the match to fifth and pivotal set winning 25-18.


The Wildcats will hit the road again this weekend traveling to take on No. 3 Texas in Austin on Saturday.