Wildcats to Tangle with Texas A&M

Alex Muff

Oct. 1, 2010

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State Wildcats travel to take on the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday with first serve set for 6:30 p.m. from Reed Arena. The Wildcats are looking to get a win in conference play again after dropping two straight to Colorado and Missouri last week. Texas A&M hopes to remain near the top of the standings after going 3-1 through the first two weeks of Big 12 Conference action.    

The Wildcats had their mid-week conference bye and used the opportunity to take on UMKC in nonconference action on Tuesday. K-State came on strong late in the match to get the win in five sets while the rest of the Big 12 battled it out on Wednesday. Texas A&M is coming off a 3-2 win at Colorado on Wednesday and currently stands tied for second in the Big 12 standings by handing Texas its only loss in league play in the Big 12 opener.

Last season, the Wildcats and Aggies each defended their home court splitting the season series. K-State’s win on November 4 in five sets was the first over a ranked opponent since August 24, 2007. The Aggies were ranked No. 23 in the nation at the time of the match in Manhattan, and senior libero Lauren Mathewson also set a school record for most digs in a five-set match with 41. The mark also was just one shy of tying the Big 12 Conference record.

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 calling the action.

Live stats will be available through kstatesports.com and aggieathletics.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 match will also be webcast at aggieathletics.com for free.

The Series
Kansas State leads the all-time series with Texas A&M 17-12 after winning five of the last six meetings. Both teams have done well defending their home court in the series with K-State winning just four times in College Station, and the Aggies claiming victory only once in Manhattan. The series also have proven to have some exciting matches with five of the last 10 going the distance in five sets.

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 (191) and is not far off of the best winning percentage in school history as well at .647.

Texas A&M: Laurie Corbelli (San Francisco ‘88) is in her 18th year leading the Aggies. She has taken Texas A&M to the NCAA Tournament 14 times during her tenure, including 13 straight beginning in her first year of 1993.

Scouting the Aggies
Texas A&M began its season with a bit of a roller coaster ride with nonconference losses to Pacific and No. 23 LSU at home and the following week to Missouri State and Ohio. The Aggies responded to their 6-4 nonconference record by sweeping No. 6 Texas to open Big 12 action. A&M followed that with a loss in five sets at Kansas before back-to-back wins over Texas Tech and Colorado.

The Aggies lost all three starting outside hitters and their starting setter from a year ago to graduation and have had a number of young players step in and take over those important roles. Kelsey Black has moved from a combo defensive specialist/outside hitter role to exclusively outside where she leads the team in kills averaging 4.00 a set. She also leads the team in aces and is second in digs to serve as a major contributor to the Aggies’ efforts.

Sophomore middle blocker Lindsey Miller is leading the offense in hitting percentage and is blocking 1.02 balls a set to lead that category for the Aggies. All four of Texas A&M’s middle blockers are sophomores, and the Aggies also have a freshman at setter in Canadian Allie Sawatzky.

The Aggies are looking for a return to the NCAA Tournament after reaching the Regional Semifinals last season before being eliminated by Texas. Texas A&M has been to the tournament regularly under the head coach Laura Corbelli but went through a three-year drought before last season.

Catching up with the ‘Cats
Kansas State looks to get back in the win column in conference play after dropping two straight to Colorado and Missouri. The Wildcats defeated UMKC in five sets on Tuesday to stay sharp during their scheduled mid-week bye during conference season.

The Wildcats struggled to get into a rhythm offensively early against the Kangaroos on Tuesday before K-State turned on the heat in the fourth and fifth sets. K-State hit .364 in the fourth and .500 in the fifth to shut down the ‘Roos en route to the victory.

Senior libero Lauren Mathewson moved into third in career digs during the match as she posted 17 digs to move past Laura Downey. Mathewson now has 1,462 career digs and needs just 117 digs to claim second on the list behind two-time Big 12 Libero of the Year Angie Lastra.

Freshman middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger pounded out a team-high 17 kills on the night while hitting .519 herself and posting six digs and six blocks. Senior JuliAnne Chisholm celebrated her birthday with her fifth double-double of the season as she tallied 12 kills and 10 digs.