Wildcats Tangle with Tigers on FSN

Lilla Porubek

Oct. 25, 2011

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State volleyball team begins the second half of the Big 12 Conference season on Wednesday when the Wildcats play host to the Missouri Tigers at 6:30 p.m. The Wildcats stand in fifth place midway through conference action and the Tigers are tied for sixth one game behind K-State. In the first meeting this season between the two teams, K-State got the best of the Tigers in five sets to snap a three-match losing streak to Missouri.

Missouri looks to get back on the winning track after getting swept by No. 10 Texas on Saturday on the road. K-State also is eyeing a win following a 3-1 loss on the road to No. 22 Oklahoma.

During the match at Missouri last month, the tandem of Kaitlynn Pelger and Lilla Porubek combined to pound out 43 kills with 23 and 20, respectively. Pelger had a double-double with 16 digs and also added five blocks. Porubek had a consistent match hitting .273 and a pair of aces.

In addition to looking for a win following a loss, Missouri will be looking for its first win on the road in Big 12 action. The Tigers went 0-4 on the road over the first half of conference play losing at Iowa State, Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas.

On the Tube
The match against Missouri will be televised by Fox Sports Kansas City with Brian Smoller calling the play-by-play and former Wildcat Liz Wegner-Busch providing color commentary.

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

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

The Series
Kansas State leads the all-time series against Missouri 41-33 after the Wildcats snapped a three-match losing skid to the Tigers. K-State has lost to Missouri only eight times in the Big 12, with a 23-8 record since 1996. Head Coach Suzie Fritz is 14-7 against Missouri and is 7-34 in matches played at home.

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 210-123 gives her a winning percentage of .631.

Missouri: Wayne Kreklow (Drake ‘80) is in his seventh year leading the Tigers where he and his wife have led the program a combined 11 seasons heading into this year. Kreklow returned Missouri to the NCAA Tournament last year taking the Tigers to the Regional Semifinals.

Scouting the Tigers
Missouri enters Wednesday’s match after falling on the road to No. 10 Texas and defeating Central Arkansas in a mid-week nonconference match. The Tigers were picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 this season and they are currently tied for sixth with a 3-5 record in league play. They are led by outside hitter Lisa Henning as she ranks first in the conference with 4.82 kills per set in conference matches.

Henning was slowed down by the defense of the Texas Longhorns on Saturday as she managed nine kills in the 3-0 loss but hit for a negative percentage with 11 errors. Missouri could not stop the Longhorns as Texas hit .431 for the match and was terminal as Missouri only tallied 17 digs as a team.

Sophomore setter Molly Kreklow remains one of the top players at her position in the conference averaging 10.73 assists per set and directing the Tigers to a team hitting percentage of .212 in league play.

Emily Wilson and Brittney Brimmage are Missouri’s other two top offensive threats with Wilson adding 2.49 kills per set on a .253 hitting percentage, and Brimmage contributes 2.46 kills with a strong efficiency of .379 but is hitting .274 in league matches.

Defensively, libero Priscilla Armendariz leads the team in digs with 3.77 per set to rank sixth in the conference. In conference play, she is averaging 4.21 digs to stand fifth.

Missouri also is winless on the road in Big 12 Conference action this season going 0-4 through the first half of league play. The Tigers fell on the road to No. 16 Iowa State, No. 22 Oklahoma, Baylor and No. 10 Texas.

Catching Up with the ‘Cats
K-State is 15-7 on the year after falling on the road to No. 22 Oklahoma on Saturday in a tightly contested 3-1 loss. 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 preseason.

The Wildcats are one of the top blocking teams in the Big 12 again in 2011 averaging 2.34 blocks per set in league action and 2.53 overall. The conference mark ranks fifth in the league. The overall mark puts the Wildcats among the best teams in the nation standing at 38th.

Blocks came up big for the Wildcats last week against Kansas, and the Wildcats posted 9.5 on the night. Although the Jayhawks tallied more blocks on the night, K-State utilized their opportunities to grab the momentum with their blocks and put the Jayhawks away in four sets as KU has proven to be a strong team early in matches.

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 second in the league in kills during conference play (4.32) and leads overall (4.59). Lilla Porubek has improved her kill production steadily of late to now stand seventh overall (3.33) and sixth in conference play (3.71). As a team, K-State is third in the league during conference play averaging 14.11 kills and 13.14 assists.

Killer Kaitlynn
Kaitlynn Pelger is leading the Big 12 Conference in kills as she is averaging 4.59 kills per set through 22 matches this season. The sophomore middle blocker has already posted eight matches with 20 or more kills, including 32 against Drake and most recently 26 at Oklahoma. 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 .329 and ranks seventh in the league. Pelger also has nine double-doubles to her name this season as she is playing all six rotations from her middle blocker position and digging 2.76 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 four of seven categories. She ranks 11th in kills per set and third in points (5.63) through last week’s matches trailing only Northern Illinois’ Lauren Wicinksi and Georgia Tech’s Monique Mead. Pelger also ranks in blocks (74th, 1.13) and aces (95th, 0.36) and is just outside the top 100 in 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 3.33 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 0.21 aces per set.

Porubek has led the team in kills in three of the last six 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. Against Kansas last week, Porubek pounded out 15 kills over the four sets along with a .303 hitting percentage. The native of Budapest, Hungary, has increased her kill numbers each of the last few weeks to steadily rise up the rankings within the Big 12.

Sensational Southpaw
Junior opposite Kathleen Ludwig has found her stroke during conference play for the Wildcats to provide more punch on the offense and give K-State another threat. She is producing 2.21 kills per set in Big 12 play and also adds 0.25 aces. Her defense has also come up big at time for the Wildcats averaging 1.68 digs.

At Kansas last week, Ludwig posted nine kills and six digs to play a key role in the victory for the Wildcats. She had four kills and hit .571 in the fourth set alone to apply pressure late to the Jayhawks. 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.

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 Texas (7th, 2658), Missouri (9th, 2413), Iowa State (11th, 2367) and Texas A&M (22nd, 1611).

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.