Wildcats Rally at OU

NORMAN, Okla. The Wildcats dug themselves into a hole at Oklahoma on Saturday night but were able to claw themselves out. At one point in the third set, Oklahoma had No. 16 Kansas State against the wall with the Wildcats facing match point. But the Wildcats battled back and got the hard-fought road win 18-25, 22-25, 26-24, 25-20, 15-9.


Kansas State (16-3, 6-2 Big 12) was led by Rita Liliom and Nataly Korobkova with 16 kills each to get the come-from-behind win over Oklahoma (7-10, 3-6). Kesley Chipman joined them in double digits with 12 kills. Liliom had a double-double adding 12 digs on the night, and Lauren Mathewson had a career-high 30 digs.


The Wildcats struggled early against Oklahoma’s unorthodox offense but eventually got into a groove and came from behind to force a fifth set. The Sooners utilize the tip often when attacking to catch the defense off guard.


After tying the match at two sets apiece, the Wildcats came out firing in the fifth set with a solo block by Jenny Jantsch and an ace from Leslie Townsend. After two quick points from Oklahoma, K-State went on its longest rally of the night scoring seven straight points to go ahead 9-2.


The Sooners tried to chip into the lead, but K-State would not be denied after rallying from behind in the match and win the final set 15-9.


The Wildcats got the early lead in the first set but a 4-0 from the Sooners turned the advantage to Oklahoma. The Sooners extended the lead to four points and every time the Wildcats pulled within a point, Oklahoma answered with a point of its own. A 5-1 run by the Sooners put the score at 20-15. The teams traded points until a 3-0 run by OU gave the Sooners the first set 25-18.


K-State distributed the ball well with Korobkova leading the team with five kills in the first set while Liliom, Chipman and Jantsch all had three.


The second set saw the two teams battle back and forth early until the Wildcats put together their first extended run of the match with four consecutive points to go up 10-7 thanks to two aces by Korobkova.


K-State had another four-point rally and used a hustle play from Jantsch and Abby Fay fire up the team. On an attack by OU, Jantsch came up with the tough dig. Fay made a diving pass to keep the ball alive that sailed over the net and found the floor in a hole in OU’s defense. The Wildcats continued to ride that momentum building a 19-13 lead until the Sooners went on a three-point run of their own to cut into the lead and force a K-State timeout.


The Sooners would go on another 3-0 run to tie the set at 21-21 and force K-State to use another timeout. Out of the break, hitting errors continued to plague the Wildcats and the Sooners took a 2-0 lead into the locker room after taking the second set 25-22. Eight of Oklahoma’s last 11 points came by way of attack errors by the Wildcats. Three Sooner points came on kills and two of K-State’s attack errors were on blocks. Oklahoma had just one attack error in the second set while K-State had 12 and hit just .020 as a team.


In the third set the Wildcats gained some momentum with a four-point swing to take a 15-11 lead on the effort of Chipman and JuliAnne Chisholm. Chipman tipped the ball to the back corner for a kill to begin the rally, and Chisholm followed with a kills and a solo block to spark the Wildcats.


After exchanging points, Oklahoma went on a 3-0 rally to cut into the lead and trail by just two points. Another three-point run would give Oklahoma the lead at 23-22. Facing match-point the Wildcats won two consecutive points to reclaim the lead 25-24 and force an OU timeout. A kill by Korobkova gave K-State the set 26-24 and kept the Wildcats alive.


In the fourth set, eight of the first 10 points for the Sooners came by way of attack and service errors by the Wildcats with the set tied at 10 points apiece. A four-point swing by the Wildcats gave them a 15-12 lead as Jantsch tallied two kills and the K-State block began to shut down OU’s offense with five blocks up to that point in the set.


The Wildcats extended the lead to 21-14 before three straight Oklahoma points forced K-State to take a timeout at 21-17. K-State was able to hold off the Sooners and send the match to a decisive fifth set 25-20.


K-State will have its off-night on Wednesday and will be in action next Saturday at home at 7 p.m. to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders.