Wildcats Rally to Beat Bears

WACO, Texas The No. 13 Kansas State Wildcats made another rally from behind on the road to outlast the Baylor Bears in five sets. Kansas State dropped the first two sets and rallied to win three in a row and take the match 24-26, 20-25, 25-13, 25-17, 21-19.

The Wildcats were led by Rita Liliom with 23 kills as she also hit .340 for the match. Nataly Korobkova added 21 kills for the match while hitting at a .429 clip. Liliom also had a double-double with 11 digs. Kelsey Chipman had 10 kills and eight block assists playing a big part in K-State’s defense to get the win.

With the final set tied at 13-13 the Wildcats (18-4, 8-3 Big 12) gained the advantage on an over-ruled point by the first official. The line judge called an attack by Baylor’s Katie Sanders in on the line. The first official called the ball out and K-State had match point. Baylor (14-7, 6-5) answered with a block to knot the match again.

The match continued to go back and forth with 12 ties and nine lead changes in the fifth set alone. K-State ended the match in fitting fashion as its blocked played a key role in coming from behind and winning the third and fourth sets. Chipman and Soriana Pacheco teamed up on back-to-back blocks to get the win 21-19 and complete the comeback. Each team had three chances at match point in the final set.

Baylor pulled ahead in the first set with a number of runs and led by as many as six points. K-State responded winning five of six points to pull within two points. The Wildcats eventually tied the set at 23 points apiece but could not complete the comeback falling 23-25 to drop the first set despite out-hitting the Bears .421 to .317.

Korobkova came out swinging in the match with eight kills on 12 swings in the first set and no errors. Liliom also started strong with five kills in the first set. Their efforts were not enough in the first set, however, as Baylor setter Taylor Barnes distributed the ball to five different players who all had multiple kills in the first set. Barnes also had three kills of her own to begin the match.

The second set saw the Wildcats fall behind again and just when they got within striking distance Baylor countered. K-State pulled within one point at 5-6 but Baylor came back with an 8-2 run to go ahead 14-7. The Bears would continue to apply the pressure and led by 11 points in the set at 22-11.

K-State chipped away at the lead scoring five of the next six points to trail 23-16. After a Baylor timeout, the Bears scored on a ball handling error by Soriana Pacheco. The Wildcats faced set point to go down two sets to none and they made a push winning four consecutive points two of them aces from Jenny Jantsch before Baylor edged out K-State 25-20.

After playing strongly in the first set, the Wildcats hit just .195 in the second compared to Baylor’s .293.

Set 3: The Wildcats opened the third set with a five-point run to pull ahead 5-1 early. K-State continued the strong play with a 6-3 stretch to extend the lead to seven points at 14-7. The Wildcats would get their largest lead of the set yet with back-to-back kills from Liliom to go up 19-11.

K-State did not slow down closing the third set with a four-point run to win 25-13 with a block from Kelsey Chipman and Korobkova. The Wildcats hit .619 for the set and held the Bears to .050 as Liliom posted six kills in the set. Chipman added three along with Korobkova as her match total reached 15 through three sets along with Liliom’s. Baylor tallied just six kills in the set 10 fewer than the Bears had in the second.

In the fourth set the Wildcats picked up where they left off with a quick 5-0 run to pull ahead 6-2 as Baylor hit into K-State’s block a number of times. Another four-point run would extend the lead to 11-4 and that run would continue to an 8-2 advantage to give K-State the 15-9 lead and force Baylor to use its last timeout of the set.

Baylor would score three straight points on service and attack errors by the Wildcats to cut into the lead 16-11. The Bears tried to get back into the set but could not put enough together before the Wildcats closed the set 25-17. K-State hit .250 in the set and thanks to five blocks Baylor hit -.062 with eight kills and 10 errors.

In the final set, K-State forced Baylor to take an early timeout with another four-point run to pull ahead 4-1 after Baylor had three attack errors and a service error. The Bears clawed back nipping away at the lead until the match was tied at 9-9. K-State completed the comeback and got the win 21-19.

The Wildcats will return home for three straight matches beginning with Texas A&M at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Ahearn Field House that will be televised on FSN Kansas City.