Sunflower Showdown Saturday at Ahearn

MANHATTAN, Kan. The Wildcats face in-state rival Kansas on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Ahearn Field House eyeing another win over the Jayhawks. In their previous meeting this season, the two teams went the distance playing five sets. K-State got the edge after trading blows with KU for the win 15-9 in the final set.

Nataly Korobkova took over the match for the Wildcats with 20 kills en route to the win. Jenny Jantsch also came up big for K-State both offensively and defensively. She added 11 kills and 13 digs in the effort. It was her second double-double of the season as she found holes in the Kansas defense and helped hold the Jayhawks to a .194 team hitting percentage. Kansas was led by Karina Garlington as she powered her way to 17 kills, but she was the only Jayhawk to reach double digits in kills as they came up short down the stretch.

K-State finds itself in third place in the Big 12 just a half game behind Texas for second after the Longhorns fell on Wednesday night. The Jayhawks enter Saturday’s matchup in a tie for ninth with Missouri after defeating the Tigers in five.

Following the match Saturday, the Wildcats will sign autographs for fans on the floor of Ahearn. Fans are encouraged to stick around after the conclusion to get signatures from the team. Players will sign autographs for half an hour after the match and fans are asked to bring just one item per person to be signed.

The Series

Kansas State holds the advantage over Kansas 59-37-1. The Wildcats have won four in row over their rival Jayhawks and 24 of the last 26. K-State went on a 21-match win streak over KU from 1995-2005.

The Wildcats have won four straight against the Jayhawks and are 23-2 since the inception of the Big 12 Conference. K-State has dominated the series since 1995 when the Wildcats won 21 straight.

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

: Ray Bechard (Fort Hayes State 80) has coached the Jayhawks the last 10 seasons and has taken the team to three NCAA Tournaments. Before coming to KU, Bechard coached at Barton County Community College where he coached K-State head coach Suzie Fritz as a player. He also hired her as an assistant coach there.

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

On the Web

Live stats and video for Saturday’s match will be available through Fans can sign up for Powercat Passport on the site to watch live video.

Scouting the Jayhawks

Kansas has been unable to put together a run since conference play has started as the Jayhawks have not won back-to-back matches. The Jayhawks are 4-8 in Big 12 play with wins over Iowa State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Missouri.

The Jayhawks won their last match on Wednesday against Missouri to even the two teams out in the conference standings in a tie for ninth. Kansas bested the Tigers in five sets after falling behind 2-1. Kansas dominated the match statistically winning the kills battle 66-41. The Jayhawks also had more than 90 digs compared to Missouri’s 68.

Three KU players reached double digits in kills and five tallied at least 10 digs. Karina Garlington led the attack with 19 kills while Natalie Uhart added 12 and Jenna Kaiser marked 15. Melissa Grieb had 21 digs and Garlington completed a double-double with 17 digs.

Kansas has struggled on the road in Big 12 play with a 1-5 record. The Jayhawks’ lone win on the road in conference play came after winless Texas Tech.

Garlington leads the Jayhawks this season averaging 3.80 kills per set. She had a career-high 29 in the team’s win over Iowa State. Middle blocker Savannah Noyes has been KU’s most efficient hitter with a .279 hitting percentage. She is also averaging 1.93 kps and is second on the team in blocks. Melissa Manda leads in digs with 3.12 per set.

Senior Natalie Uhart leads the team in blocks and is one of the team’s top offensive players as well. She is stuffing 0.87 attacks per set and averaging 1.81 kills while hitting .251 -- second among regular players. Uhart is the emotional leader for the Jayhawks and has played every set for the team after missing all of 2006 with a knee injury and a portion of last year after the discovery of a heart condition.

Catching Up with the Cats

Kansas State played its third straight five-set match on Wednesday and came out victorious over Texas A&M. The Wildcats are now 4-1 in five-set matches this season and have played long matches in four of their last five.

Against the Aggies, K-State had a strong showing from its entire senior class particularly Nataly Korobkova and Megan Farr. Korobkova tallied 19 kills and nearly hit..400 for the match. She also assisted on five blocks. Farr struggled a big offensively but made a large contribution at the net. The Wildcats had nine blocks for the match, and Farr was involved in eight with two solo stops and six assists.

Rita Liliom also had 19 kills for the match. Jenny Jantsch was one kill short of her fourth double-double with 13 digs. Leslie Townsend came off the bench to play back row for Korobkova and tallied seven digs, an ace and two assists in action. Junior middle blocker Kelsey Chipman also returned to form on offense with nine kills and no errors on 16 attacks for a .562 hitting percentage. As a team, the Wildcats hit .303 for the match with 64 kills.


Familiar Faces

When K-State and Kansas face each other, the rivals will see some faces they know very well. Senior defensive specialist Leslie Townsend will see her little sister on the other side of the net. Mel Townsend is a sophomore defensive specialist for the Jayhawks.

Coach Suzie Fritz will see her former coach and boss in KU coach Ray Bechard. Fritz played two seasons for Bechard at Barton County Community College when the team finished fourth in the NJCAA. Bechard hired Fritz as an assistant coach in 1995 and had her on the bench with him for two seasons before Fritz became an assistant at K-State.