Wildcats Fall in Tight Sweep

LINCOLN, Neb. Kansas State volleyball coach Suzie Fritz will have to go for the record another day. The Wildcats were swept on the road by No. 3 Nebraska in a match that was tightly contested throughout. Fritz was attempting to become the winningest coach in school history.

The Wildcats fell 23-25, 22-25, 17-25 in front of a sellout crowd at Nebraska Coliseum. The loss brings K-State’s record to 21-5 overall and 11-4 in Big 12 Conference play. K-State was led by Rita Liliom with 13 kills but could not overcome Nebraska’s Tara Mueller who had 20. Nataly Korobkova joined Liliom in double digits with 12 kills and hit .200 as Liliom hit .345 for the night.

K-State hit .245 as a team and was bested by Nebraska’s team hitting percentage of .352 as three players reached double digits in kills. Lindsey Licht and Jordan Larson joined Mueller with 11 and 10 respectively. K-State tallied 10 blocks to Nebraska’s four but could not overcome the Cornhuskers for the loss.

In the first set, the Cornhuskers stormed to a quick early lead winning the first three points. The Wildcats would answer and keep the set close throughout. There was a total of six ties and two lead changes in the opening stanza.

Each team came out of the gates firing and at an extremely efficient rate. The Wildcats had their first set of the season without an attack error hitting .548 for the set. Nebraska nearly matched the effort hitting .410. Combined the two teams hit .472 to start the match. The Wildcats’ efficiency was not enough, however, as they fell 23-25 with the difference being five service errors compared to Nebraska’s two.

Korobkova had seven of K-State’s 17 kills in the first set. It was the Korobkova and Mueller show as Mueller had nine kills for the Cornhuskers.

Both teams slowed down a bit but the second set was still another nail biter with the Huskers taking the early advantage. At one point Nebraska led by five points 12-7, but a 5-1 run by the Wildcats cut into the lead. Nebraska would respond and K-State could not tie the match until knotting it at 16-16.

K-State would gain the lead on a kill by JuliAnne Chisholm to pull ahead 19-18. After Nebraska tied it with a kill from Mueller, the Wildcats again went to Chisholm for the kill to keep the lead. A two-point run by the Huskers regained the lead 21-20 and force K-State to take its final timeout. The Wildcats would tie the set at 21-21 but a three point run was too much for K-State to overcome and fell 25-22.

The Wildcats hit .150 on the set with Nebraska blocking three of their attempts in addition to four more errors. Nebraska slowed its pace offensively as well hitting .263 and led by Mueller again. Mueller added eight more kills to bring her total through two sets to 17. Rita Liliom led the Wildcats with five kills in the second set.

Nebraska opened another early lead in the third set pulling ahead 6-1 thanks to back-to-back three-point runs. The Wildcats battled within two points but a series of errors gave Nebraska another run and the 10-5 lead.

K-State could not come back from the deficit as the Cornhuskers continued to build on their lead by as much as eight points. Nebraska handled the Wildcats 25-17 in the final set.

The Wildcats will return to action Wednesday night in Boulder, Colo., to take on the Buffaloes.