Wildcats Close Homestand with Sooners

MANHATTAN, Kan. The Wildcats conclude their three-match homestand on Wednesday night against the Oklahoma Sooners at 7 p.m. The match pits Kansas State against an OU team that has won two straight matches against strong opponents.

Oklahoma upset No. 3 Texas on the road last week and followed it with a win over a Baylor team receiving votes in the Top 25 poll. K-State hopes to slow the Sooners attack as head coach Suzie Fritz attempts to tie the career wins record at Kansas State.

A win Wednesday would be No. 168 for Fritz and tie her with Scott Nelson who coached the Wildcats from 1980-90 and accumulated a 168-176-1 record. Fritz already had the highest winning percentage in school history and now is eyeing the most wins.

The last time K-State and OU met on the court, it was a nail-biter with the Wildcats pushing back after being forced into a corner. K-State dropped the first two sets to Oklahoma and even faced match point in the third set only to battle back and win the match in five sets on the road.

Rita Liliom and Nataly Korobkova each had 16 kills in the win over the Sooners. Lauren Mathewson had her first 30-dig match of her career and the Wildcats blocked 13 Sooner attacks compared to OU’s five blocks. Caitlin Higgins led Oklahoma with 15 kills and Chrissy Disarro chimed in with 11. The Wildcats were able to slow Oklahoma’s top hitter Francie Ekwerekwu with just eight kills and four errors to hit .143 for the match.

The Series

Kansas State trails in the all-time series with Oklahoma. The Sooners lead 44-24-1. The Wildcats snapped a four-match winning streak for the Sooners in the series earlier this year. The Wildcats rallied from behind after facing match point in the third set to win in five in dramatic fashion.

The Wildcats have dominated the series since the inception of the Big 12 Conference winning 18 of 25 matches against Oklahoma. K-State knocked off OU in 14 consecutive matches over seven years spanning from 1999-2005 before dropping four of the last five matches.

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 one win shy of tying the top spot at K-State.

: Santiago Restrepo (East Stroudsburg 86) has coached the Sooner the last four seasons and turned the program around in a short time. In his third season there he led the Sooners to their highest winning percentage and ranking in school history.

On the Tube

Wednesday’s match will be broadcast on K-State TV and available to Cox Communications subscribers and on campus on cable channel 8. It will also be available on broadcast television KKSU-LP Channel 21 in the Manhattan area. The broadcast will use KMAN 1350’s audio feed with Brian Smoller calling the action and Rob Voelker on color commentary.

On the Airwaves

Saturday’s match will be broadcast on 1350 KMAN with Brian Smoller calling the action and Rob Voelker on color commentary. Fans can also hear the match on the station’s Web site www.1350kman.com.

On the Web

Live stats and video for Saturday’s match will be available through www.k-statesports.com. The live video for this match will be made available for free. Fans also can sign up for Powercat Passport on the site to watch live video of remaining home matches this season.

Scouting the Sooners

Oklahoma comes to Manhattan after dropping Baylor in five sets in Norman on Sunday. The Sooners have won six of their last seven against the Bears.

In the win over Baylor, four Sooners reached double digits in kills while just one Baylor player accomplished the feat. Katie Sanders led Baylor with 17 kills and in hitting with a .200 percentage. The Bears hit just .100 as a team in the loss. Oklahoma hit .200 and was led by Francie Ekwerekwu with 17 kills. Caitlin Higgins added 13 kills and the duo of Suzy Boulavsky and Sarah Freudenrich each had 12. The Sooners were able to slow the Bears attack with 14 blocks in the match -- eight of them assisted by Ekwerekwu. Baylor tallied seven blocks in the loss.

shutdown Baylor’s attack in the sets won by the Sooners to get the win 25-27, 25-13, 25-1222-25, 15-13. Baylor hit for a negative percentage in the second and third sets and under .100 in the fifth.

Ekwerekwu continues to lead the Sooners offensively averaging 2.69 kills per set and hitting .291. She is joined by Caitlin Higgins and Bridget Laplante as the team’s main offensive weapons. Higgins is averaging 2.57 kps while Laplante is at 2.06 kps. Laplante also plays a big role defensively with 3.05 digs per set. Freshman setter Brianne Barker is averaging 9.18 assists per set and 2.70 digs per set. Senior libero Lacy Barnes is averaging 3.81 dps.

The Sooners are in a difficult stretch of their schedule after facing No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Texas and RV Baylor before coming to Manhattan to take on the ranked Wildcats. Oklahoma won its last two matches defeating Texas in five sets in Austin and following that with a five-set win over Baylor at home.

Catching Up with the Cats

Kansas State enters Wednesday’s contest after winning three in a row over Baylor, Texas A&M and Kansas. It will be the final match of a three-game homestand for the Wildcats before they hit the road to take on rival Nebraska and Colorado.

The Wildcats come in after defeating the Jayhawks in the Sunflower Showdown in Manhattan in four sets with Rita Liliom leading the way. Liliom tallied 19 kills in the match while hitting .359. Nataly Korobkova and Kelsey Chipman also had double digit kills as Korobkova added 13 and Chipman had 11. Chipman also returned to form at the net with seven total blocks including two solo stops. Korobkova was in on six blocks as well.

K-State’s defense was led by libero Lauren Mathewson as she had her sixth 20-dig match of the season to move into a tie for seventh for her career and eighth for a single season. The Wildcats held the Jayhawks to a .129 hitting percentage and not one Kansas player reached double digits in kills.

The win helped separate the Wildcats from the middle of the pack in the Big 12 standings. K-State remains in third place at 10-3 and holds a three-game lead over fourth-place Iowa State.

Fritz Chasing 168

Kansas State volleyball coach Suzie Fritz is quickly approaching the No. 1 spot in school history in wins. In her eighth season, Fritz has posted a career record of 167-75 and is one win behind Scott Nelson for the most wins at K-State. Nelson posted a 168-176-1 record from 1980-90.

During her time as head coach, Fritz has taken the Wildcats to their first conference championship claiming the Big 12 title in 2003. She also has twice been named Big 12 Coach of the Year and was the 2003 Central Region Coach of the Year.

Pacheco Named Rookie of the Week

Setter Soriana Pacheco received the first player of the week honor of her career being selected as the Big 12 Rookie of the Week for her performances against Texas A&M and Kansas in helping lead the Wildcats to victories.

Pacheco averaged 10.89 assists per set with 47 against the Aggies in a five-set win and 51 against Kansas in four sets. She added three kills on six attempts against the Aggies along with two aces and nine digs. The Wildcats hit .303 as a team in the win over the Aggies. In the Sunflower Showdown against Kansas, Pacheco had 51 assists marking her third match with at least 50 assists this season. She added seven digs and kept the Jayhawks off balance with three service aces