Wildcats Oust Sooners in Four

MANHATTAN, Kan. Kansas State volleyball coach Suzie Fritz tied the school record for career wins on Wednesday night with her 168th victory, but more important to her was getting a win period. She said every win is valuable in the Big 12 Conference no matter what number it is.


“That’s the first time I heard that,” Fritz said of her achievement. “We make mention to our team every year that 20 wins is our goal. It’s an unwritten rule that 20 wins will get you in the tournament, but the selection committee will look at how you finish. And in this conference any team can pick you off any night.”


The Wildcats (21-4, 11-3 Big 12) defeated the Oklahoma Sooners in four sets on Wednesday 25-20, 16-25, 25-23, 25-20 in a match Fritz said was not her team’s strongest effort but was enough to overcome Oklahoma’s (10-13, 6-9) unorthodox schemes.


“That was not our best performance. Oklahoma does a good job of keeping you off balance and they dig a lot of balls,” Fritz said. “I think we responded well late in Game 3 to what they were doing.”


One player Fritz said she was impressed with was sophomore libero Lauren Mathewson. Mathewson led the team with 27 digs her seventh 20-dig match of the season.


“Lauren Mathewson, I felt, was the difference for us tonight,” Fritz said. “She made some spontaneous plays and some great digs for us. She continues to grow at her position.”


Mathewson’s seven 20-dig matches tie her for sixth in a single season and already places her in seventh for her career.


The Wildcats were led on the attack by senior Rita Liliom who tallied 22 kills. She also added 11 digs to mark her ninth double-double of the season. Liliom has reached double digits in kills every match this season. She was joined in double digits by Nataly Korobkova with 14. Middle blockers Megan Farr and Kelsey Chipman each teamed up to get eight kills and hit for a high efficiency with each hitting higher than .300.


Farr had another stellar night blocking for the Wildcats with a season-high nine total blocks. She assisted on eight and marked a solo stop as well. Chipman had four block assists and a solo as well.


The Wildcats jumped to the early lead claiming the first set 25-20 hitting .231 as a team compared to OU’s .133. The second set was a different story, however, as the Wildcats could not get in a groove and the Sooners rolled to the 25-16 win. In the second set, K-State was outhit by nearly .200 points as the team had 10 attack errors.


K-State would right the ship in the third set with a come-from-behind rally. The Wildcats trailed 15-9 in the third set before an 11-2 run gave K-State a 20-17 lead. The Sooners clawed back but could not turn the score in their favor as the Wildcats won 25-23.


In the final set, the Wildcats battled back and forth with the Sooners until gaining the advantage midway through. With the score tied 9-9, K-State went on a five-point run to open the lead. The margin proved to be too much as the Sooners fell 25-20.


The Wildcats hit the road this weekend to take on rival Nebraska at 7 p.m. in Lincoln.