Wildcats Battle Bears

MANHATTAN, Kan. The Wildcats finish their week on the road against Baylor in a match heavy with Big 12 Conference implications. Kansas State and Baylor will take to the court at the Ferrell Center at 7 p.m. Saturday with third place in the conference standings on the line.

After K-State’s loss to Iowa State on Wednesday and Baylor’s win over Kansas, the Bears sit one game behind the Wildcats in fourth place. Baylor enters the match on a two-match winning streak after dropping three in a row to No. 3 Texas, Iowa State and No. 2 Nebraska.

In their previous meeting with the Bears this season, the Wildcats claimed the win in four sets to have the Bears their first conference loss of the season after opening league play 3-0. K-State got the win despite being out-hit and out-blocked in the match. Rita Liliom had a double-double with 18 kills and 13 digs in the match as well. Megan Farr also had a big night for the Wildcats hitting .533 en route to 10 kills and have four blocks. For the Bears, Anna Breyfogle led the way with 15 kills and six blocks.

The Series

Kansas State holds the advantage over Baylor 19-6 all-time. The Wildcats have won eight of the last 10 matches with the Bears including three highly contested matches that went the distance to five sets.

The Wildcats have won the last three against Baylor with their last loss coming on the road in four sets in 2006. Four of Baylor’s wins in the series have come at home in the Ferrell Center besting the Wildcats in 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2006. K-State is 8-4 in Waco against Baylor.

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

Baylor: Jim Barnes (McNeese State 94) has guided the Baylor Bears to fourth in the Big 12 Conference at the midway point. The Bears were picked to finish eight and have already surpassed their number of conference wins from last season 

On the Airwaves

Saturday’s match will be broadcast on 1350 KMAN with Rob Voelker 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.baylorbears.com.

Scouting the Bears

Baylor boasts one of the top defenses in the Big 12 and has caught the attention of coaches across the nation receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll for the fourth straight week. The Bears rank second in the conference in opponent hitting percentage (.165) and digs per set (15.60). Baylor’s defense is strong at the net as well blocking at a rate of 2.61 per set -- also good for second in the league.

This defense is made strong by middle blocker Anna Breyfogle who leads the conference by far in blocks at 1.63 per set. The closest player behind her is averaging 1.23 blocks per set. Against Texas A&M she had two solo blocks and 10 block assists. It was her second 10-block match of the season. Freshman Briana Tolbert also joins Breyfogle in the conference leaders in blocks coming in ninth with 0.96 per set. Libero Allison King is fifth in the Big 12 in digs per set at 4.03 and had 14 digs in Wednesday’s win over KU.

Baylor also brings a strong offense to the court, however, and is not just about defense. The Bears lead the Big 12 in service aces with 114 and are averaging 1.63 per set. K-State has 106 aces on the year and rank third in the conference per set. Setter Taylor Barnes leads the conference individually averaging 0.39 aces per set and Breyfogle comes in at third to boast to of the top servers in the Big 12.

Offensively, the Bears are led by Katie Sanders with 3.59 kills per set. She has had eight double-doubles this year as she is also averaging 2.88 dps. The Bears are a perfect 8-0 when she gets a double-double. Breyfogle and Ashley Christenson join Sanders as kill leaders on the team averaging 2.69 and 2.55 respectively. Breyfogle leads the team’s attackers with a .325 hitting percentage. At Barnes is one of the most aggressive in the conference at her position as she is averaging 1.36 kps and hitting at a .374 clip.

The Bears have the fifth hitting percentage in the conference behind proved their depth against Kansas. Barnes spread the ball around as four players finished with double digit kills in the sweep of the Jayhawks and the team hit .427 for the match.

Catching Up with the Cats

Kansas State dropped its first road match of the week in five sets to Iowa State falling to the Cyclones for the first time since 2006. It was the 13th time K-State and Iowa State went the distance in five sets and the Wildcats have not fared well in those matches. K-State is now 4-9 against Iowa State in five-set matches.

The loss was the first time the Wildcats fell on the road to an unranked opponent since losing in five sets at Colorado on Nov. 1, 2006.

Seniors Rita Liliom and Nataly Korobkova had 20 and 16 kills respectively, but it was not enough to defeat the Cyclones. The team hit .250 for the match but Iowa State bested that hitting .299 to get the win. Attack and service errors plagued the Wildcats. K-State had 21 errors compared to Iowa State’s 17 and 10 service errors to the Cyclones’ seven.

The match started strong for K-State hitting .342 en route to a 25-20 win while Iowa State hit .108. The tide turned, however, as the Wildcats hit below .100. In the sets K-State won it significantly outperformed Iowa State and visa versa in sets won by the Cyclones. Iowa State hit .419, .359 and .450 in its three wins in the match. K-State hit .088, .237 and .100 in those three sets.

There were bright spots in the loss for the Wildcats as senior Jenny Jantsch moved closer to her next victim on the career aces list with three. She is now four behind Renee Whitney for seventh all-time in school history. She also had a season-high 16 digs in the match.

Kelsey Chipman returned to form with 10 kills on 21 attacks and did not have an attack error to hit .476. The middle blocker also posted four block assist. Liliom’s 20 kills was her third match with at least 20 this season as she moves one behind Kathy Saxon on the career kills list.