Wildcats Host Baylor for Homecoming

Caitlyn Donahue

Oct. 26, 2012

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – The K-State volleyball team closes out the Ultimate Wildcat Weekend when the No. 16 Wildcats host the Baylor Lady Bears at 7 p.m. from Ahearn Field House. The match concludes a weekend full of exciting K-State action from men’s and women’s basketball open practices and a Top 15 football matchup for Homecoming Week.

Saturday’s match is Overland Park Community Night in honor of senior setter Caitlyn Donahue. It also is K-State’s Pack the Field House promotion as all tickets are just $1 to get in. Wildcat fans have been packing Ahearn to the tune of nearly 1,800 per match and more than 2,000 in Big 12 Conference play and the team is hoping for another great turnout for Homecoming.

In their first meeting with Baylor this season, the Wildcats got the victory on the road 3-1. That win snapped a losing streak on Baylor’s home floor for K-State with the last win at the Ferrell Center coming in 2008. Baylor has only won four times at Ahearn, but two of those wins have come in the last three years. K-State will look to sweep the season series with a victory on Saturday and position itself for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament with its 20th win of the season.

Baylor is coming off a loss to No. 8 Texas on Wednesday night after giving the Longhorns a scare in the second set. The Bears bested Texas 25-20 in the second set to tie the match, but the Longhorns responded by not allowing Baylor to reach double digits the next set and eventually won 3-1 to push Baylor to 3-6 in conference play this season.

A win for K-State on Saturday would help separate the conference standings into two main groups with the Wildcats in the top half of the league.

On the Airwaves
Saturday’s match will be available exclusively online due to football coverage on 1350 KMAN. Fans can listen to Rob Voelker’s call of the match online at kstatesports.com.

K-StateHD.TV will broadcast the match live on the online network for subscribers to the online service. Live stats will be available at kstatesports.com and wvusports.com provided by CBS GameTracker.

The Series
K-State leads the all-time series 23-11 after winning on Baylor’s home court for the first since 2008. The Wildcats are 16-7 against the Bears under Suzie Fritz, but Baylor has tallied five of its wins in the last seven meetings.

The Coaches
Kansas State: Suzie Fritz (Florida Atlantic ’94) is in her 12th year as head coach of the Wildcats she is the winningest coach in the program’s history with 235 wins and has taken the team to eight NCAA Tournaments, including three runs to the Regional Semifinals.

Baylor: Jim Barnes (McNeese State ‘94) is in his ninth year leading the Bears where he has taken his team to the NCAA Tournament two of the last three years.

Scouting the Lady Bears
Baylor is led by senior right side Alyssa Dibbern as she is averaging 3.01 kills per set overall and 2.94 in conference play. She has stepped up her play of late, including a career-high 21 kills in a 3-2 victory over TCU two weeks ago. She tallied double digit kills against West Virginia last week as well. In the win over the Mountaineers, Dibbern hit an impressive .632 with 12 kills on 19 attacks without an error.

Dibbern is joined by junior outsite hitter Zoe Adomas Baylor’s other main threat on offense. Adom is leading the team in kills during conference play with 3.12 per set and is hitting .234. Adom led the team with 14 kills against West Virginia and was the only player to reach double digits against No. 8 Texas on Wednesday night while also hitting .545. Adom had 15 kills in the first match with K-State this season.

Senior setter Kate Harris has been one of the most versatile setters in the Big 12 this season as she plays a major role in Baylor’s defense averaging more than 3.00 digs per set in league play. For the season she has totaled 14 double-doubles to lead the conference.

Senior middle blocker Torri Campbell also plays a key role for Baylor as she is the No. 3 option on offense with 2.63 kills in league action and hitting .252. She is the team’s top blocker at the net as well. Against K-State earlier this year at home, Campbell had 13 kills on a .522 clip and four blocks.

Catching Up with the ‘Cats
The Wildcats are 6-3 in Big 12 Conference play as the second half of the league schedule is underway. K-State is currently in a tie for third place and only one game behind Kansas for second. K-State dropped one home match in the first half and will welcome Baylor, KU, TCU and OU to Ahearn during the second half of Big 12 action.

Wednesday marked the Wildcats’ first trip to West Virginia and K-State came out on top with its 15th 3-0 sweep of the season. K-State’s offense did not see a single Wildcat reach double digits in kills as the defense and serving scored more points for K-State this time around.

The Wildcats posted 10 aces against the Mountaineers, one shy of their season-high. It was the third time this season K-State has reached double digits in aces, all of which have come in 3-0 victories. Junior outside hitter Lilla Porubek had a career-high four aces, three came late in the first set when she scored three in a row for the Wildcats.

K-State’s defense was also solid up front with 11 blocks to shut down West Virginia. Senior Alex Muff tallied six blocks and junior Kaitlynn Pelger was in on five blocks. It was the eighth time the Wildcats have reached double digits in blocks for a match and second straight in league play as K-State continues to be one of the top blocking teams in the nation this season.

K-State is still ranked among the top teams in the country in the polls and have the stats to back it up. The Wildcats are 16th in the NCAA in assists per set in the NCAA’s latest statistics report on Monday averaging 13.46. With senior setter Caitlyn Donahue directing the offense the team is also ranked17th in the NCAA in hitting percentage at .270 and 26th in kills averaging 14.23. Defensively, K-State is one of the top blocking teams as well stuffing its opponents with 2.56 blocks per set to rank 42nd in the nation.

The Wildcats are posting those strong numbers thanks to a number of individuals having great seasons for the team. Donahue ranks seventh in the NCAA in assists (11.90) and in league play leads the conference by nearly a full assist per set. She also has seven double-doubles on the year. Senior Alex Muff is one of the best blockers in K-State history and is showing it by ranking 22nd in the nation this season at 1.41 per set. Lastly, junior middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger is 36th in points while standing just outside the top 50 in kills and hitting percentage.

Hot Hand
Senior middle blocker Alex Muff has been one of the top blockers in the Big 12 Conference her entire career, and now she is adding more offense to her numbers in her final year to give the Wildcats another consistent weapon to go to in conference play thanks to her newfound firepower at the net. Muff is averaging 2.42 kills per set in conference play this season, adding nearly a full kill per set more than her three previous years in league play. She also is hitting .340 to lead the team in that category and rank fourth in the conference.

Muff has posted10 or more kills in four of the last five matches and hit .380 over that span. Before this season, she had only nine matches with 10 or more kills. She posted 10 kills and hit .353 against the No. 9 Texas Longhorns to start the hot streak and followed it with 10 kills on a .400 clip at TCU the next week. She also had six blocks at TCU. Against Kansas, Muff again had 10 kills. Last Saturday, Muff posted a new career-high 17 kills in a win over Texas Tech. Her .593 hitting percentage also ranks fourth in school history for a five-set match.

Defensively over the last five matches, Muff has averaged 1.33 blocks. She now ranks fourth in the league in that category with 1.29 in conference matches overall.

For her career, Muff ranks seventh in school history in block assists with 383 and is poised to move into the Top Five soon. She needs just seven more block assists to post her third straight year with at least 100.

K-State Ranked No. 16
The Wildcats dropped two spots in this week’s AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll after splitting action at Kansas and at home against Texas Tech last week. After the best start in school history at 12-0, K-State climbed to No. 11 five weeks ago and still remain among the top teams in the country. The No. 11 ranking was the highest the Wildcats had been ranked since being No. 11 on Nov. 26, 2007.

Four Big 12 teams remain ranked, and Kansas is this week’s big jumper in the poll up four spots to No. 17 after beating K-State. Texas held steady this week to No. 8, and so did Iowa State at No. 22.

A number of K-State’s nonconference foes are among the top teams as well. Minnesota and Dayton are still ranked with the Golden Gophers holding onto No. 10 and Dayton up three spots to No. 15 this week. St. Mary’s cracked the Top 25 this week as well after upsetting No. 13 San Diego. The Gaels debut this season at No. 25. Two more of K-State’s nonconference opponents are receiving votes. Creighton is just outside the Top 25 as the third leading vote getter and Oregon State are also on the list of teams receiving votes and this week.

Winning Formula
The NCAA released its updated RPI rankings on Monday, and the computers continue to love the K-State Wildcats. With an 18-3 record entering this week the Wildcats stand at No. 12 in the latest RPI report, dropping three spots. Similar to basketball, the NCAA selection committee uses RPI as a major factor in determining at-large bids and seeding for the NCAA Tournament. The selection committee only seeds the top 16 teams for the postseason, with regional sites hosted at Purdue, Texas, Cal and in Omaha this year. The first two rounds of the tournament are played at campus sites to be determined by the committee.

Nine of K-State’s opponents are in the Top 40 of the RPI, including three in the top 10 in Texas (4), Kansas (8), Minnesota (9).

Elite Company
K-State’s football team is a perfect 7-0 and ranked No. 4 following a road victory over No. 15 West Virginia this weekend. With K-State’s No. 16-ranked volleyball team at 18-3, the Wildcats join only eight other schools that can boast the same accomplishment so far with their football and volleyball teams ranked.

The Wildcats were the lone Big 12 school to have football and volleyball both ranked, but Texas joined the ranks with the football team coming in at No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Iowa State and Texas were both on the list two weeks ago as well. The Pac-12 has three schools on the list. Oregon and USC are the only schools with both teams in the Top 10. Oregon is No. 2 in both football polls and No. 3 in volleyball. USC is No. 7 in volleyball and moved into the Top 10 in both football polls this week.

Cleaning Up
K-State currently stands at 19-3, but the way the Wildcats have been winning is just as impressive. A total of 15 of those victories have been 3-0 sweeps of their opponents. That total already far surpasses last year’s eight sweeps and trails only Western Kentucky for the most in the nation entering this weekend’s matches. The Hilltoppers lead NCAA Division I with 18 sweeps, after posting their 11th straight last Saturday. Towson is tied with K-State for second with 15 sweeps as well.

The Wildcats are ahead of some of the top programs in the nation on this list, including No. 1 Penn State. The Nitany Lions are 21-1 on the year with 14 sweeps. No. 3 Oregon, No. 7 USC. and No. 18 BYU also have 14 3-0 wins. No. 5 Washington, No. 8 Texas and Central Arkansas from the Southland Conference all have 13 sweeps, and six other teams have 12 sweeps on the year.

The 3-0 sweeps have come against strong competition as well, including then-No. 22 Iowa State. The Wildcats swept Creighton on the Bluejays’ home court while the team was receiving votes in the poll. K-State swept 2011 NCAA Tournament teams Missouri State and Tulsa, as well as then-No. 20 Dayton. Some opponents K-State swept earlier in the season have responded with signature wins as well. Oregon State defeated No. 2 Penn State in five sets, and Syracuse bested No. 23 Iowa State on the Cyclones’ home floor, and St. Mary’s has defeated three ranked opponents in then-No. 18 Pepperdine, No. 11 BYU and No. 13 San Diego.

Packed with Purple
K-State fans have traditionally made Ahearn Field House one of the greatest venues and atmospheres in the Big 12 Conference. In 2011, fans packed Ahearn with purple averaging more than 1,500 per match and ranked No. 22 in the nation. The 2012 season as been even better with the Wildcats ranked No. 21 in this week’s NCAA attendance report, averaging nearly 1,800 per match.

More than 3,000 fans packed the stands three weeks ago as the Wildcats played host to No. 9 Texas. It marked the first crowd to crack the 3,000 mark since posting two such attendance marks during 2010.

This season started off strong with more than 2,700 fans in attendance for the season opener against UC Irvine and following the match Suzie Fritz again praised the fans and said K-State is one of the best atmospheres to play in all the country. For the final match of opening weekend more than 1,500 faithful came out to watch a come-from-behind victory over Oregon State to average 1,755 for the three matches at the Varney’s Invitational.

Conference play has seen some of the largest crowds of the season at Ahearn Field House. In the conference home opener 1,912 fans came to Ahearn Field House to welcome West Virginia to the Big 12 Conference. Then against No. 22 Iowa State, fans filled the stands with 2,060 at Ahearn. With an attendance of 3,044 against Texas, K-State fans are averaging nearly 2,100 strong during Big 12 matches.

This year more renovations have been done to Ahearn Field House to enhance the atmosphere. The entire balcony seating area has been painted purple and white. The railings have all been converted from cream to white and the bleachers are now K-State Purple instead of brown. Along with the seating renovations and Powercat banner installed over the previous two years, Ahearn Field House is now truly home to the Purple and the White. A new media center has been installed as well for journalists to cover matches for their respective media outlets.

Redesigned banners have been hung in Ahearn as well replacing the older ones. The traditional style banners commemorate the winning tradition at K-State, displaying all 13 NCAA Tournament banners, All-Americans and the 2003 Big 12 Championship.