Wildcats Drop Hearbreaker to Texas

MANHATTAN, Kan. It was a packed house at Ahearn Field House as the No. 14 Wildcats hosted the No. 4 Texas Longhorns. The raucous crowd and strong effort from Kansas State was not enough as Texas edged the Wildcats in a nail-biting five sets. K-State (22-6, 12-5 Big 12) lost its 11th consecutive match to Texas 28-30, 21-25, 25-22, 25-22, 9-15 in front of 2,833 fans.

 

The Wildcats saw Nataly Korobkova lead the attack with a season-high 24 kills. She was joined in double digits by Rita Liliom with 19 kills. Middle blockers Kelsey Chipman and Megan Farr played a big role in the offense for the second straight match with nine and eight kills respectively. JuliAnne Chisholm also added eight kills for the Wildcats. Lauren Mathewson led the Wildcats in digs as she was just shy of the 20 mark with 19.

 

Their efforts were not enough to stop the No. 4 Longhorns (21-3, 14-2) as Ashley Engle led with 24 kills and hit .488 for the match. Destinee Hooker added 18 kills and Lauren Paolini pounded out 14 kills. The Longhorns hit .303 as a team as they proved why they had the highest hitting percentage in the conference.

 

“There’s a reason they’re ranked. They’re good. I don’t think about that though. I don’t even know what they’re ranked. I just know they’re good from scouting them and we know we have to play well to beat them,” said coach Suzie Fritz. “

 

Fritz said her team did a great job to battle back from down two sets to even the match and force a decisive fifth set.

 

“We were in it and had an opportunity to win,” Fritz said. “We had an opportunity to win Game 1 but we had too many misopportune plays of not making a play on our end. I thought we did a tremendous job to win Game 3 and 4 to get to a Game 5. I’m proud of our team for how they played.”

 

The Wildcats battled the Longhorns back and forth in the first set as it went to extra points before Texas got the edge and closed it out 30-28. K-State hit .250 in the set while Texas worked at a .317 clip. K-State missed out on a few opportunities in the second set to get within striking distance but fell behind 2-0 heading into the break.

 

After the intermission, K-State was able to slow UT’s efficient attack enough to get a victory in the third set. The Wildcats responded by having the most efficient set of the night by either team in the fourth hitting .429 en route to evening the match at two sets apiece.

 

K-State dug a hole it could not get out of to start the fifth set, however, and that propelled the Longhorns to the victory.

 

The Wildcats fell behind 5-1 to open the final set and could not get close enough to the Longhorns to complete the comeback. Fritz said her team’s effort was almost strong enough to get the win. She said the Wildcats competed with Texas in areas the Longhorns are strong in but could not capitalize in some areas.

 

“We had to hit and block with them and do the things that don’t require power better than them,” Fritz said. “I think we hit and blocked well with them. I don’t think we did the things that don’t require power better though, and that’s the difference in the game.”

 

K-State had more kills than Texas and lost the blocking battle by just one to hang with the Horns. At the service line, Texas held the edge with five aces and 11 errors compared to K-State’s three aces and 14 errors.

 

Kansas State will travel to take on Missouri on Wednesday as the regular season winds down. The Wildcats have three remaining matches in Big 12 play and are looking to ensure their position among the top three teams in the conference.

 

k-statesports.com