Wildcats Hope to Tame Tigers

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- The Wildcats enter Wednesday’s contest against the Missouri Tigers looking to add another win to their record and hold off a Missouri team climbing up the Big 12 standings. The Tigers have won three of their last five and currently stand one game behind Iowa State for fourth place.

Kansas State has locked at least a tie for third place in the Big 12 and will lock its place alone with an Iowa State loss. The Cyclones must win all their remaining matches and have Kansas State lose its last three to force a tie. Missouri finds itself in a battle among the teams in the middle of the pack as places fourth through 10th are all within striking distance of each other.

The last time K-State and Missouri met, the Wildcats got the win 3-1 after dropping the first set. Setters Abby Fay and Soriana Pacheco spread the wealth around for the offense as a season-high five Wildcats tallied double digits in kills. Nataly Korobkova led the way with 16 while Rita Liliom (15), Kelsey Chipman (11), Megan Farr (11) and Jenny Jantsch (10) joined her.

Each team’s defense shined as well with the Tigers putting up 78 digs to K-State’s 79. Three Tigers reached double digits in digs with Julianna Klein and libero Caitlyn Vann each posting 19. K-State had four players reach the mark, including libero Lauren Mathewson with 20. Liliom and Jantsch each had double-doubles posting 13 and 15 digs respectively to go with their solid night offensively.

The match was closely contested with a total of 27 ties and 10 lead changes in the sets. The largest margin of victory within a set was three points as well with K-State getting the win 23-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-22.

The Series
Kansas State leads the all-time series 38-30 over the Missouri holding an 20-5 edge since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996. The Wildcats won both meetings last season after dropping four in a row to the Tigers from 2005-06.

Missouri dominated the series early winning 19 of the first 27 meetings from 1974-87. Then the Wildcat resurgence began and K-State went on winning streaks of six, 12 and nine matches over the Tigers.

Suzie Fritz is 11-4 against Missouri and has swept the Tigers in seven of those victories. Three of her other four wins have come in five sets as the two teams have battled into a pivotal set five times in the Fritz era. 

The Coaches
Kansas State: Suzie Fritz (Florida Atlantic 94) is in her eighth season leading the Wildcats. She is the winningest coach in school history with 169 win and holds the highest winning percentage as well.

Missouri: Wayne Kreklow (Drake 80) is in his fourth year as the head coach at Missouri taking over after his wife Susan held the position for five seasons. The Kreklows have taken the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament each year at Missouri.

On the Airwaves
Wednesday’s match will be broadcast on 1350 KMAN with Rob Voelker calling the action. Fans can also hear the match on the station’s Web site www.1350kman.com.

On the Web
Live video and stats for Saturday’s match will be available through www.mutigers.com.

Scouting the Tigers
The Missouri Tigers have moved up the conference standings in the last two weeks winning three of their last four matches. Two of those wins came against Oklahoma and Colorado -- both teams now behind Mizzou in the standings.

Missouri has been led by sophomore Julianna Klein3.43 kills per set. Klein has had 18 matches with double digit kills including three with at least 20. She also is one of the team’s top defensive players with 2.23 digs per set. The Tigers boast one of the top liberos in the conference in Caitlyn Vann. She is second in the Big 12 in digs per set averaging 4.90 and has posted nine matches with 20 or more digs. Amanda Hantouli leads the team in blocks with 0.91 per set and is climbing the career list at Missouri as she ranks in the Top 10 in career blocks and block average.

This season Missouri has struggled against ranked opponents which has carried over from last year. The Tigers are 0-6 this year against ranked opponents and have lost 11 in a row dating back to last season when they were 1-8. Missouri fell to No. 20 BYU and No. 24 Pepperdine in nonconference action and have fallen to Nebraska twice along with losses to Texas and K-State.

The Tigers have turned their luck at home around of last as well. After opening the year 2-2 at home, Missouri has won four straight matches at the Hearnes Center to improve to 6-2 in front of the home fans. The Tigers also have had one of the strongest followings in the nation this year ranking 15th in the nation in attendance. Six Big 12 teams rank in the Top 25 in attendance with Missouri coming in third.

Catching Up with the Cats
The Wildcats dropped a heart breaking loss to No. 4 Texas in five sets on Saturday after battling back from down two sets. K-State dropped the first set in a see-saw battle 28-30 and fell further in the hole 25-21 in the second set. The Wildcats evened the match with 25-22 wins in the third and fourth sets but could not ride the momentum into the final set falling 15-9.

K-State hit .250 as a team but could not slow the conference’s top offense in the Longhorns. Texas hit .303 for the match and was led by Ashley Engle with 24 kills. Engle hit .488 to lead the lead the Horns and was joined by fellow All-American Destinee Hooker in double digits with 18 kills. Nataly Korobkova led the Wildcats with a season-high 23 kills and Liliom added 19 to the effort to continue her streak of consecutive matches with double digit kills.

Sophomore libero Lauren Mathewson was just short of her eighth 20-dig match of the season with 19. She continues to shine in conference play averaging 4.23 digs in Big 12 matches.

The Wildcats are yet to lose back-to-back matches this season following each loss with an immediate win. With the loss the No. 4 Texas it is the first time this season the Wildcats have not gone on a winning streak of at least three matches following a loss.

Chipman earns second Player of the Week
Middle blocker Kelsey Chipman received her second Big 12 Player of the Week (11/17) of the season this time receiving Defensive Player of the Week for her performances against Colorado and No. 4 Texas. She paced the Big 12 last week with a block per set average of 1.67. She stuffed eight Colorado attempts, including two solos and six assists, in a 3-1 victory on Wednesday.  Chipman then recorded seven blocks against No. 4 Texas on Saturday. Offensively, Chipman averaged 4.00 points and 2.89 kills while maintaining a .532 attack percentage. She was errorless against the Longhorns and amassed a season-best 17 kills at Colorado.

Chipman received Offensive Player of the Week (9/8) after not registering an attack error during four matches at the Nike Portland Invitational.