Wildcats Gig Aggies in Five

MANHATTAN, Kan. The Kansas State Wildcats played their third consecutive five-set match on Wednesday night and got the win at home over Texas A&M. K-State held off an Aggie squad looking for just its second win in Ahearn Field House with strong showings from the seniors.


Nataly Korobkova and Rita Liliom each tallied 19 kills for the match and Korobkova hit an impressive .395 on 38 swings. Jenny Jantsch was one kill short of her fourth double-double of the season with a combination of offense and defense. Leslie Townsend came off the bench to serve for Korobkova and kept A&M out of system. She also added seven digs in the effort, and middle blocker Megan Farr may have struggled on the attack with just five kills but her eight blocks helped swing the momentum in K-State’s favor a number of times.


“In so many ways I liked the way Nataly played tonight,” head coach Suzie Fritz said. “She brought a lot of energy and played with confidence. She’s a player that takes care of her business and does her job so it means a lot when she goes and has fun at the same time.”


K-State (19-4, 9-3 Big 12) battled back after dropping the first set 25-23 to claim the next two and push the Aggies (10-12, 5-7) into a corner. A&M would bounce back in the fourth set 25-19 and force the decisive set.


The Wildcats nearly out-hit the Aggies by .100 points and came up big in the second and fifth sets. K-State hit .417 in the second set while holding the Aggies to a negative percentage en route to the 25-12 win. In the fifth set, K-State grabbed the momentum and never surrendered it hitting .348 to A&M’s .238 and closing the match 15-9.


K-State had gone the entire season without playing a five-set match until October 14 at Oklahoma. Including the comeback over the Sooners, four of K-State’s last five matches have gone the distance with the Wildcats winning three of them.


“This is our third five-game match in a row. I think the win at Baylor is as significant as anything because we showed composure in Game 5 and I think we learned from it,” Fritz said. “I think tonight was the most fun I’ve seen my team have playing volleyball this season. We battled back and forth and it was a really good volleyball match.”


Fritz praised her team’s passing in the match saying it enabled the Wildcats to operate more efficiently and keep them in the game when struggling a bit. Libero Lauren Mathewson had 18 digs. Jantsch had 13 while setter Soriana Pacheco also came just short of a double-double with nine digs.


Upfront, K-State had nine blocks to A&M’s four, and Farr played a part in eight of them. She tallied six block assists and two solo stops. Fritz said her play was off the charts and Farr overcomes her size with her ability to jump and move quickly.


“She put some unbelievable moves on people,” Fritz said. “She’s only 5-9 and she’s further over than net than any 6-3 player I’ve ever had. Those are momentum plays and you can really build on them if you use them the right way.”


The Wildcats rode that momentum all the way to another hard-fought win. K-State will continue its three-match homestand against in-state rival Kansas at 7 p.m. Saturday at Ahearn Field House. It will also be autograph night with the players signing autographs following the match on the court.