Wildcats Seek Win Over No. 11 Texas

Alex Muff

Oct. 8, 2010


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MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State looks to get back on the winning track this weekend against one of the nation’s top teams as the Wildcats play host to No. 11 Texas at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Wildcats hope to be the latest team to defeat the Longhorns as Texas is just 1-3 on the road this year.

A win over Texas would snap a 13-match losing streak to the Longhorns with K-State’s last victory against Texas coming in 2003. After dropping its match Wednesday at home to the Oklahoma Sooners, a K-State win over the Longhorns would keep the Wildcats in a large pack jammed together in the top half of the conference standings. It also would be K-State’s first over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 23 Texas A&M last season in Ahearn on November 4.

Senior libero Lauren Mathewson is fast approaching another milestone number as she currently stands at 1,495 career digs. She already is third in career digs and is getting within striking distance of second on the all-time list at K-State. She also is on pace to post her third season among K-State’s 10 best in terms of digs in a single season.

Saturday’s match will be Kathleen Ludwig Community Night as fans from Shawnee can get discounted tickets when purchased in advance online. Before the contest, there will be pregame festivities outside Ahearn with inflatables and games for younger fans. The preseason Big 12 favorite men’s basketball team will be at the match for a meet and greet from 6-7 p.m. as well. The match will also be Military Appreciation Day with tickets available for just $3 to military personnel with their military ID.

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 play-by-play 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. Live video will also be available online.

The Series
Texas leads the all-time series 23-7 and has won 13 straight over Kansas State. The last time the Wildcats defeated the Longhorns was in Manhattan on October 15, 2003, in five sets. K-State went on to win the Big 12 title that year. Suzie Fritz is 3-15 against Texas as the head coach at K-State. The series also has a recent history of going the distance with two of the last three played in Manhattan taking five sets to determine a winner.

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 (192) and is not far off of the best winning percentage in school history as well at .646.

Texas: Jerritt Elliott (Cal State Northridge ‘91) is in his 10th year at Texas where he has led the Longhorns back to being among the nation’s elite programs. He has taken Texas to the Final Four the last two years and lost the national championship match against Penn State in 2009.

Scouting the Longhorns
Texas entered the season ranked among the nation’s Top 10 teams and despite a 9-5 record remain ranked at No. 11 currently. All but one of those losses have come to teams ranked No. 5 or better in the AVCA Coaches Poll, with the lone loss to an unranked opponent coming at the hands of rival Texas A&M on the road.

The Longhorns have one of the more potent offenses in the conference and the nation. Texas is hitting .267 on the year to rank third in the Big 12. This week’s NCAA rankings (which do not include Wednesday’s matches) has Texas ranked No. 32 in the nation. The impressive numbers are aided by middle blocker Rachel Adams. The junior is 16th in the nation in hitting percentage at .427. Adams also is second on the team in kills per set averaging 2.84 a set. She also is a force at the net defensively ranking fifth in the conference with 1.12 blocks a set.

Senior outside hitter Juliann Faucette is the first option for the Longhorns as she is pounding out 3.08 kills a set and hitting .210 on the year. Faucette also is second in the Big 12 in aces per set and is averaging a strong 2.22 digs a set for an outside hitter. Amber Roberson provides a third option for the Longhorns on offense. The junior outside hitter is averaging 2.41 kills a set and makes an impact on defense with 1.51 digs.

Texas, like Missouri, has one of the nation’s top young setters in freshman Hannah Allison. She was ranked the No. 9 recruit in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com out of high school and enrolled early at Texas to begin training with the Longhorns in the spring.

The Longhorns have had most of their troubles on the road this season with a 1-3 record away from Gregory Gymnasium. Texas fell at then-No. 4 Florida in five sets and was swept by Texas A&M. The third road loss came at the hands of then-No. 3 Nebraska in four sets. The Longhorns only road win was over Missouri in four sets with the Tigers receiving votes in the Top 25.

In their last match, the Longhorns dominated Colorado in a sweep. Texas hit .435 for the match led by Adams and Roberson with 13 kills each. Adams hit an incredible .800 with one error on 15 swings. Faucette contributed nine kills, and middle blocker Jennifer Doris was nearly perfect with seven kills on nine swings.

Catching up with the ‘Cats
Kansas State is looking to get its first win over Texas since 2003 and snap a 13-match losing streak to the Longhorns. The Wildcats are coming off a loss to Oklahoma at home on Wednesday and hope to stay in the log jam in the conference standings with three teams tied for second and two teams just one game behind that pack.

Freshman middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger has been hard to slow down lately as she has averaged 3.50 kills a set and hit an amazing .467 over the last five matches. During that span she has also added 0.90 digs a set from her middle blocker position posting six digs against UMKC and Texas A&M. She also has kept teams off balance with her serve tallying five aces during her hot streak.

Senior libero Lauren Mathewson is approaching her next milestone mark with 1,495 career digs heading into Saturday’s contest. She already is third in career digs in school history and is now just 83 digs behind Kim Zschau for second on the career list.

Head Coach Suzie Fritz is also approaching a milestone. The 10th year coach needs just eight wins to reach the 200 plateau. The Wildcats have averaged 20.33 wins a season under Fritz as she entered the year 17 wins shy of the 200 mark. She already has the most wins in school history and is just a few percentage points behind for highest winning percentage in school history as well.

Hot Hand
Freshman middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger has turned up the heat on opposing defenses over the last five matches. Pelger is averaging an impressive 3.50 kills a set over that span. Perhaps more impressive has been her ability to kill at an efficient rate. Her hitting percentage is .467 combined in those matches including two five-set matches with her hitting .500 or better.

The recent hot streak is nothing new for Pelger as she started her career strong. In her first action at the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational she posted five kills and two digs against No. 16 UCLA. She then put on a performance that would highlight her selection to the All-Tournament Team against host No. 5 Hawaii with 10 block assists against the host team.

The Olathe South product put together a complete match for the Wildcats in their road sweep of Texas A&M last Saturday when she pounded out 12 kills on a .370 hitting clip to go with six digs, three blocks and an ace. She has been consistent for the Wildcats as the team’s No. 2 blocker averaging 1.08 a set to rank ninth in the Big 12. She has posted five or more blocks almost half of K-State’s matches and has some of the top performances in the conference so far this season at the net. Pelger has also proven to be one of the team’s top servers as she posted four aces at No. 16 Kentucky and is tied with Caitlyn Donahue for the team lead with 19.