Second Edition of Sunflower Showdown Set for Sat.

Nov. 14, 2013

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K-State Athletics

The Sunflower Showdown reconvenes on Saturday, Nov. 16, and K-State is looking to change the course of the rivalry against #23 Kansas.

The Wildcats have lost three straight to the Jayhawks, with the last K-State win occurring in 2011. Since then, K-State has lost in four sets twice in 2012 and straight sets earlier this season on Oct. 2.

K-State, though, is playing well, including an overwhelming effort in its last match on Nov. 9 against West Virginia. The Wildcats became the first Big 12 team this season in a conference match to 1) tally more than 13 blocks in a three-set match (they finished with 13.5) and 2) hold its opponent to a negative hitting percentage in each set (the Mountaineers had a -.059 hitting percentage on the night).

The negative hitting percentage by West Virginia was also the lowest by a K-State opponent since head coach Suzie Fritz took over the program in 2001. The previous low was -.047 by Kansas on Halloween in 2001 in Lawrence.

Entering Saturday, the Wildcats are first in the Big 12 in opponent hitting percentage (.175) and blocks per set (2.84) for the entire season. Kansas, meanwhile, is second and third in opponent hitting percentage (.177) and blocks per set (2.61), respectively.

K-State may have excelled defensively against West Virginia, but its offense matched the efforts on the other side of the attack.

"I was probably more excited about our first swing offense because we were well over .300 in first-swing," said Fritz after Saturday's match. "It has been a little bit of an inconsistent thing for us, but anytime we hit over .300, we have a chance to win." K-State is 98-2 since 2001 when it hits .300 or better in a match.

The Wildcats turned in their best hitting percentage (.317) for a Big 12 match this season against West Virginia, led by Kaitlynn Pelger's efficient .619 clip. The hitting percentage by Pelger was the best for a Wildcat with at least 20 attempts in a match since 2001.

K-State is not only looking to snap a three-match losing streak to Kansas, but the Wildcats are also looking for their first win in a Big 12 road match. K-State is 0-5 on the road in conference this season.

Taylor Johnson, who had a career-high 10 blocks in K-State's last road match on Nov. 6 at Texas Tech, is the reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week. The junior middle blocker had five blocks and eight kills against Kansas earlier this season. Overall, though, Kansas had more kills (48) and blocks (11.0) than K-State (40, 9.5) in the meeting in Ahearn Field House.

Fans can watch the Sunflower Showdown on Saturday on Metro Sports or ESPN3. Rob Voelker will call the action on KMAN 1350 and Live stats will be available at and updates on Twitter will be provided by @kstate_gameday.

Notes: Taylor Johnson leads the Big 12 with 1.36 blocks per set in conference-only matches ... The Wildcats entered the week 12th in the nation with 2.84 blocks per set ... K-State has tallied double-digit blocks in 12 matches this season, the most since 2011 ... Katie Brand is third in the Big 12 with 10.44 assists per set in conference-only matches. Brand is averaging 11.3 assists per set over the last three matches ... With only five matches left in the season, K-State is No. 53 in the latest RPI rankings. The RPI rankings help determine at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have beaten four teams ranked in the RPI's top-50, and three of their remaining five matches are against teams ranked No. 21 or higher.

More notes can be found here.

K-State (16-8, 4-7 Big 12) at #23 Kansas (19-6, 9-3)
6:30 pm in Horejsi Family Athletics Center in Lawrence, Kan.

All-time series: K-State leads 62-44-1
Last meeting: Kansas won 3-0 (31-29, 26-24, 25-19) on Oct. 2

Series notes: K-State has lost three straight matches to Kansas ... The last win for K-State was on Nov. 23, 2011 (3-1) in Manhattan.