Wildcats Look to Tame Tigers

The Wildcats return home to take on the Missouri Tigers on television in a match with strong implications on the Big 12 Conference standings. The match will be broadcast by FSN Kansas City at 7 p.m. A win for Kansas State would keep the Wildcats within striking distance of the conference leaders as the midway point of league play approaches.

State comes into the match after losing to Texas in three sets on Saturday. The Wildcats were able to hang with the No. 3 Longhorns in the first two sets losing closely before UT pulled away in the third set. It was the first time all season the Wildcats were held to less than four blocks stuffing just one Longhorn attack. The loss dropped the Wildcats to third in the conference standings.

comes to The Little Apple after dropping a heartbreaker on the road to Texas A&M. The Tigers and Aggies traded blows in the first two sets and Missouri won the fourth set to extend the match to a fifth. In the final set, however, the Aggies dominated to get the win 15-4. All four Missouri points came on kills, but the Aggies were nearly perfect with 10 kills and no errors on 14 attempts to lead to the win.

The last time these two teams met the Wildcats got the sweep over the Tigers in Columbia. K-State won the match 30-23, 30-19, 30-27. The Cats also swept the match in Manhattan. In the win on the road, Nataly Korobkova had 23 kills for K-State as the team hit .303 for the match.

The Series

Kansas State leads the all-time series 37-30 over the Missouri holding a 19-5 edge since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996. The Wildcats won both meetings last season after dropping four in a row to the Tigers from 2005-06.

dominated the series early winning 19 of the first 27 meetings from 1974-87. Then the Wildcat resurgence began and K-State went on winning streaks of six, 12 and nine matches over the Tigers.

Suzie Fritz is 10-4 against Missouri and has swept the Tigers in seven of those victories. Her other three wins have come in five sets as the two teams have battled into a pivotal set five times in the Fritz era. 

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 8 wins shy of taking the top spot at K-State.

: Wayne Kreklow (Drake 80) is in his fourth year as the head coach at Missouri taking over after his wife Susan held the position for five seasons. The Krakow’s have taken the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament each year at Missouri.

On the Tube

The Wildcats will play their first match on television on Wednesday. The matchup with Missouri will be broadcast on FSN Kansas City with K-State’s Brian Smoller calling the action and FSN’s Patti Phillips on color commentary.

On the Airwaves

Saturday’s match will be broadcast on 1350 KMAN with KMAN’s Rob Voelker with calling the action. Fans can also hear the match on the station’s Web site www.1350kman.com.

On the Web

Live stats for Saturday’s match will be available through www.k-statesports.com.

Scouting the Tigers

Missouri has gone up and down so far this season to enter Ahearn Field House with an 8-7 record. The Tigers have played a number of long matches already this year with four matches going to a deciding fifth set including their last two matches against Iowa State and Texas A&M. Missouri is 2-2 in those five-set matches. In comparison K-State has played just one five-set match.

The Tigers are led by redshirt sophomore Julianna Klein who paces the team with 3.50 kills per set. Klein returns to action this year after a knee injury in the team’s seventh match of the season. Before going down with the injury last season, Klein posted a career-high 26 kills in the season opener against Ole Miss and had five double-doubles. This year Klein two double-doubles and reached the 20-kill mark twice. She tallied 20 against A&M on Saturday and posted 23 in a win over Utah State in four sets at a tournament hosted by BYU. Klein is also averaging 1.84 digs per set.

Klein is not Missouri’s only offensive threat as Weiwen Wang is averaging 2.66 kps. Wang had 10 kills in the loss to A&M this weekend and was joined in double figures along with Megan Wilson who had 12. Wilson is nearly averaging two kills a set this season. Middle blocker Amanda Hantouli leads the team with a .281 hitting percentage and is averaging 1.84 kps. She has been in on 54 blocks this season with nine solos. Missouri as a team is right behind K-State in blocks among the Big 12 averaging 2.45 blocks per set.

The Tigers have one of the top liberos in the Big 12 this season in Caitlyn Vann. The sophomore is averaging 5.03 dps and 5.62 dps in conference matches. She has broken the 20-dig mark in six matches this season including two with at least 30. Vann posted a career-high 34 digs in a win over St. John’s in five sets. She had 33 in four sets against Oklahoma and followed that performance with 25 in a loss to Baylor. In five conference matches, Vann has posted 24 or more digs in three.

has lost both its meetings with ranked opponents previously this season. The Tigers played No. 20 BYU to a fifth set and fell to No. 24 Pepperdine in three. The Tigers do have to wins over both teams they have faced receiving votes in the Top 25 poll when they met. Missouri bested Tulane in four sets and St. John’s in five. The Tigers face two ranked teams this week traveling to Nebraska on Sunday after facing K-State on Wednesday.

Catching Up with the Cats

Kansas State returns home after falling in three sets at No. 3 Texas on Saturday. The Wildcats could not find a way to stop the attack of the Longhorns getting just one block in the match. The Wildcats were the No. 3 blocking team in the conference entering the match with the Longhorns. Texas was ahead of K-State and out-blocked the Cats 11.5-1 in the match.

K-State kept it close with Texas in the first two sets falling by margins of 25-20 and 25-21. The Wildcats held the lead at some point in each set but late runs by Texas put them out of reach for K-State to get the upset on the road. The Longhorns rallied in the third set without an attack error to complete the sweep.

Senior Rita Liliom led the Wildcats with 15 kills against Texas to ensure her streak of having double-digit kills in every match this season. Liliom and the rest of the team could not put enough offense together hitting .159 for the match. It was the third time this season K-State hit below .200 -- the Wildcats lost all three of those matches (Purdue, Nebraska, Texas).

The Longhorns tallied 46 kills and just six errors to hit .482 as a team. The Wildcats had 18 errors and eight service errors to account for 26 of UT’s points. Destinee Hooker led the Longhorns with 16 kills and hit .412 for the match. Texas set the tone for the match hitting .607 in the first set with 19 kills and just two errors. The Wildcats had their best set in the first as well but their .290 hitting percentage was not enough to upend the Longhorns.

The Wildcats have responded from their two previous losses this season with wins. After falling on the road to then-ranked No. 25 Purdue, K-State bested UC Irvine in four sets at the Nike Portland Invitational. K-State came back after losing to No. 2 Nebraska in four sets at home to defeat Colorado in a sweep.