Wildcats Take on Rival Jayhawks

Suzie Fritz

Oct. 18, 2011

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State volleyball team will take on its in-state rival Kansas Jayhawks this week as the Wildcats are looking to get back on the winning track after falling to No. 10 Texas on Saturday. The Wildcats and Jayhawks square off at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center in Lawrence in a match that will be televised by Metro Sports. Fans in the Kansas City area can watch the match on the network, and the broadcast will also be available throughout the state of Kansas on Cox 22.

Wednesday’s match pits a K-State team hoping to remain in the top half of the conference standings while the Jayhawks are looking for their first victory in Big 12 play. Kansas has opened conference action 0-6 with losses to three ranked teams and two more that were receiving votes in the Top 25. The Wildcats are receiving votes again in this week’s poll and are 3-3 in league play to stand in fifth nearing the midway point.

The Wildcats have lost just four times to their rivals in the Big 12 era dating back to 1996 holding the edge 26-4. Last season, K-State defeated KU on the road in five sets after the Jayhawks rallied to win the third and fourth sets and force a decisive fifth. K-State rolled in the fifth 15-6 for the victory as the Wildcats posted 18.5 blocks.

Kansas will bring a strong tandem of Allison Mayfield and Caroline Jarmoc to the court as the pair are both averaging more than 3.00 kills per set in conference play. Mayfield ranks fourth in the league at 3.92 per set and Jarmoc is ninth averaging 3.21 kills in conference matches only. As a team the Jayhawks are seventh in kills and hitting percentage buth have a strong defense that ranks fourth in digs. On Saturday, the Jayhawks forced the No. 22 Oklahoma Sooners to five sets on the road, and four players reached double digits in kills. Mayfield posted 21 to lead the way while Jarmoc added 15.

On The Airwaves
Wednesday’s match will be aired live online by KMAN 1350 with Rob Voelker calling the action. The match also can be heard live online for free at kstatesports.com.

Live stats provided by CBS GameTracker may also be found on kstatesports.com and kuathletics.com. The audio broadcast will be available at kstatesports.com as well.

The Series
K-State leads the all-time series 60-41-1 and have dominated the Jayhawks during the Big 12 era with a 26-4 record since 1996. Head Coach Suzie Fritz is 16-4 against KU and 8-2 on the road.

The Coaches
Kansas State: Suzie Fritz (Florida Atlantic ’94) is in her 11th year as head coach and recently reached the 200-win milestone. The 3-2 win at Missouri State on Thursday was her 200th. She is the winningest coach in K-State history and her career record of 209-122 gives her a winning percentage of .631.

Kansas: Ray Bechard (Fort Hays State ‘80) is in his 14th year leading the Jayhawks and has taken the team to the NCAA Tournament three times. KU just missed an at-large berth last season going 17-14.

Scouting the Jayhawks
Kansas opened the season 11-1 before starting conference play and played two strong opponents in No. 15 North Iowa and No. 6 Minnesota. The Jayhawks pushed UNI to five sets on the Panthers’ home court after winning the first two sets before UNI rallied from behind. Kansas then responded with an upset victory over the No. 6-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers at UNI’s home tournament winning in five sets. KU was able to hold off a charge by Minnesota after the Jayhawks won the first two sets again against a top opponent, but KU was able to get the win 15-12 in the fifth.

Since starting conference play, however, the Jayhawks are just 1-6 with their lone win coming in midweek nonconference matchup with Nebraska-Omaha. Three of KU’s losses in conference play have been to ranked teams as the Jayhawks opened league action against then No. 8 Texas and No. 16 Iowa State. Kansas also fell to Texas A&M and Missouri when both teams were receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. In their last match, KU took No. 22 Oklahoma to five sets on the Sooners’ home floor but could not come up with the win.

Allison Mayfield led the Jayhawks with 21 kills in the loss to the Sooners and is one of the league’s top hitters. She is joined by Caroline Jarmoc as one of the team’s other main offensive threats. Tayler Tolefree is another player the Jayhawks go to averaging 1.58 kills per set in league play but her presence is also felt at the net defensively with 1.29 blocks per set.

Against the Sooners, the Jayhawks again won the first two sets against a ranked opponent for the third time this season but could not hold the momentum. Oklahoma reversed the scored from the previous two sets and won 25-23 and 25-19. Then in the fifth set, Kansas struggled on offense with six errors and eight kills for a hitting percentage of .091. Oklahoma, on the other hand, had just one error and seven kills to hit .400 and get the win.

Catching Up with the ‘Cats
K-State is 14-6 on the year after falling to No. 10 Texas at home Saturday. The Wildcats are currently in fifth place in the Big 12 standings after being picked to finish eighth by the league’s coaches in the preason.

The Wildcats are one of the top blocking teams in the Big 12 again in 2011 averaging 2.60 blocks per set in league action and 2.62 overall. The conference mark ranks second in the league trailing only Texas Tech. The overall mark puts the Wildcats among the best teams in the nation standing at 25th.

Recently, K-State had one of its most impressive blocking performances on the year at Texas Tech as the team tallied 15 blocks in the 3-0 win. That total of 15 blocks is the second-most the team has tallied in a match all season, including all matches. The Wildcats have played in four five-set matches, and only accumulated more blocks in one of those matches. The 15 blocks tie for the sixth most in school history for a three-set match and are second in the Big 12 this season.

The blocks came in a flurry against the Red Raiders, especially in the first set. Tech pulled ahead late in the opening stanza 22-21, but the Wildcats would not be denied. In fact, it was the Wildcats who would deny the Red Raiders. K-State proceeded to stuff block Tech’s next four attacks to come from behind and win the first set on four straight blocks.

Sophomore middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger is still one of the top players in the league as she is contributing significant numbers in nearly every statistical category. She is third in the league in kills during conference play (4.10) and leads overall (4.56). Porubek has improved her kill production steadily of late to now stand seventh overall (3.31) and sixth in conference play (3.80). As a team, K-State is third in the league during conference play averaging 13.80 kills and 12.70 assists.

Killer Kaitlynn
Kaitlynn Pelger is leading the Big 12 Conference in kills as she is averaging 4.56 kills per set through 20 matches this season. The sophomore middle blocker has already posted seven matches with 20 or more kills, including 32 against Drake and most recently 23 at Missouri. Her 32 kills against Drake marked the first time since Valli Hejjas in 2004 a Wildcat has posted 30 or more kills. Pelger has been killing balls efficiently as well this season as she leads the team in hitting percentage coming in at .324 and ranks eighth in the league. Pelger also has seven double-doubles to her name this season as she is playing all six rotations from her middle blocker position and digging 2.67 balls a set to stand second on the team. One of her double-doubles came in the unconventional way with 14 blocks against Missouri State.

Pelger is one of the top players in the nation midway through the season as she ranks in the top 100 in three of seven categories. She ranks 17th in kills per set and fourth in points (5.60) through last week’s matches trailing only Northern Illinois’ Lauren Wicinksi, Georgia Tech’s Monique Mead and Louisville’s Lola Arslanbekova. Pelger also ranks in blocks (67th, 1.15) and is just outside the top 100 in aces and hitting percentage.

Pelger has put her name in the record books a few times this season beginning with the Georgia Tech Courtyard Classic against Tennessee Tech. Pelger posted a strong hitting percentage of .800. That percentage ranks fourth in school history for a three-set match. Against the Golden Eagles, she pounded out 13 kills on 15 swings with one error. Her 32 kills against Drake rank fifth in school history for a five-set match, and her six solo blocks against Missouri State tie for second in a five-set match as well.

“Por”ing it On
Sophomore outside hitter Lilla Porubek has continued where she left off her freshman campaign as she is averaging 3.31 kills per set and ranks seventh in the Big 12. She has posted 10 or more kills in every match but three thus far, including a career-high 23 against Missouri. It was the first 20-kill match of her career. The native of Hungary has become a go-to player for the Wildcats and has lifted her hitting percentage and kills over the last few matches as well to be a more consistent threat for the team. Porubek also is one of the team’s top servers averaging 0.23 aces per set.

Porubek has led the team in kills in two of the last four matches and put together one of her most consistent performances of the season at Texas A&M as she pounded out 12 kills. She also hit .476 for her new career-high in a match. The native of Budapest, Hungary, has increased her kill numbers each of the last three weeks to steadily rise up the rankings within the Big 12.

Sensational Southpaw
Junior opposite Kathleen Ludwig has found her stroke over the last few matches for the Wildcats to provide more punch on the offense and gave K-State another threat during its recent nine-match winning streak. She has continued that strong production into Big 12 play as Ludwig is averaging 2.27 kills per set and hitting .229on the year.

Against Iowa State, Ludwig tallied 10 kills on a .364 hitting percentage in the loss. She also added six digs and a pair of aces. In the Big 12 opener against Baylor, Ludwig joined two of her teammates in double-digit kills with 11 and a hitting percentage of .296. During that win, Ludwig also provided four digs and two blocks. She backed that up with a season-high 15 kills at Missouri on a .256 hitting percentage in the five-set match. She posted her second double-double of the year with 12 digs and also had six block assists. Her increased production has opened up hitting lanes for her teammates as Kaitlynn Pelger and Lilla Porubek have each seen increased kill production during Ludwig’s resurgence.

Packed with Purple
Ahearn Field House is again rocking in 2011 with an average attendance of more than 1,400 fans. K-State fans have always been loyal to their Wildcats when it comes to volleyball with the fans ranking in the Top 30 in national attendance regularly. This season K-State is again among the most highly attended volleyball matches in the nation currently ranking 26th with an average of 1,455. K-State is fifth in the conference in attendance trailing only Missouri (7th, 2679), Texas (9th, 2481), Iowa State (11th, 2367) and Texas A&M (23rd, 1542).

Last year, K-State was 18th in the nation in attendance for the entire season and fourth in the Big 12 Conference behind only Nebraska (2), Texas (7) and Missouri (15). Iowa State (19), Texas A&M (23) and Kansas (42) all ranked among the top 50 and averaged more than 900 in attendance.

The Wildcats had nearly 3,000 fans at their home opener against Creighton this season and are looking for more excitement all season in Ahearn to again make it one of the best environments in the conference to play volleyball in.