K-State Seeks to Slow Sooners

Tristan McCarty

Nov. 18, 2010

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MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State closes its week on Saturday when the Wildcats travel south to take on the Oklahoma Sooners. First serve is set for 3 p.m. from McCasland Field House where the Sooners have only lost three times this season, twice to ranked opponents. The Sooners currently stand tied for third in the Big 12 Conference standings with an 11-6 league record and are receiving votes in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll.

In the first meeting between these two teams this season, the Sooners got the sweep that started K-State’s eight-match losing streak. The Sooners had three players reach double digits in kills in the match and hit .282 as a team while K-State’s offense could not keep pace. Kaitlynn Pelger tallied 14 kills and hit .571. This time around the Wildcats will look to give the Sooner their first loss to K-State since 2008 after OU won both matches last year.

Pelger is coming off another solid performance as she put together one of her most complete matches of the season on Wednesday night despite the loss to Texas A&M. The freshman middle blocker posted a career-high 18 kills and had her highest hitting efficiency of the season with a .577 clip. Pelger also kept the Aggies off balance with her serve as she nailed three aces. At the net, Pelger was a force defensively as well leading the team with five block assists.

On The Airwaves
Saturday’s match can be heard tape delayed on KMAN 1350 with Rob Voelker calling the action. The match will be  available live through 1350kman.com and kstatesports.com with live audio streaming.

Live stats will be available through kstatesports.com for fans wanting to track the action live on the web. Live audio of KMAN’s broadcast will also be provided through kstatesports.com.

The Series
Oklahoma leads the all-time series against the Wildcats with a record of 47-25. K-State leads the series since the inception of the Big 12, however, winning 19 of the 29 matches. The Sooners have held the advantage of late winning seven of the last nine meetings sweeping the series in 2006, 2007 and 2009. Suzie Fritz is 12-7 against OU.

The Coaches
Kansas State: Suzie Fritz (Florida Atlantic ’94) is in her 10th year as head coach of the Wildcats she is the winningest coach in the program’s history in terms of wins (193) and is not far off of the best winning percentage in school history as well at .629.

Oklahoma: Santiago Restrepo (East Stroudsburg ‘86) is in his seventh year coaching the Sooners where he has energized the program back into an NCAA Tournament caliber team. He has taken OU to the postseason three of the last four years.

Scouting the Sooners
The Sooners just went through a tough stretch in their schedule facing No. 14 Iowa State and No. 5 Nebraska back-to-back. Oklahoma was able to get the upset over Iowa State, however, in Norman in four tightly contested sets. Seven of Oklahoma’s nine losses have come to ranked opponents this season.

Oklahoma is led by junior right side hitter Suzy Boulavsky averaging 3.53 kills a set. Her hitting percentage is .284 as she takes the majority of the swings for the Sooners, but is not alone as the team’s only scoring threat. Three more Sooners averaged at least 2.00 kills a set. Freshman sensation Sallie McLaurin is averaging 2.17 kills and is hitting over .300 on the year. She also ranks fourth in the conference in blocks with 1.25 stuffs a set. McLaurin has claimed three Big 12 Rookie of the Week awads this season as well. Sarah Freudenrich leads the team in hitting percentage and is averaging 2.13 kills while Caitlyn Higgins holds steady at an even 2.00 kills. Higgins led the Sooners in kills with 12 in the first meeting this season with K-State.

The Sooners rank among the middle of the pack in most statistical categories in the Big 12 with the only glaring abnormality coming in service aces. Oklahoma ranks 10th in the league in aces per set as the Sooners average just 0.76 in each stanza.

Setter Brianne Barker is one of the most consistent in the conference and averages more than 10 assists per set. Barker has an offensive flare as she averages 1.11 kills a set to keep defenses off balance with a number of dump attacks. She also is third on the team in digs averaging 2.57 a set.

Catching up with the ‘Cats
Kansas State dropped a heartbreaker to Texas A&M on Wednesday night after fight its way back into the match dropping the first two sets. The Wildcats dominated the third set to take the momentum into the fourth, but fell behind early by seven points. K-State chipped away at the lead and eventually reclaimed it and led late 21-19 only to see the Aggies score five straight points backing the Wildcats into a corner before losing the match 16-25, 21-25, 25-18, 22-25.

Freshman middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger had arguably the best match of her short career on Wednesday night as she put together a complete effort for the Wildcats. Pelger posted career-highs in kills with 18 and hitting percentage as she hit for a .577 clip. Those were not her only two strong stats on the night, however, as she assisted on five stuff blocks, had eight digs and tallied three aces in the 3-1 loss to Texas A&M.

Senior libero Lauren Mathewson is inching closer to moving up in the K-State record books again. Mathewson needs just five digs to move past Angie Lastra’s junior season total of 474 digs to rank eighth in school history for a single season. The Kansas City product has three seasons ranked on the top 10 list and now has her eyes set on becoming the first player in school history with three 500-dig seasons.

Senior Night Ticket Special
The final home match of the season is fast approaching and fans are being offered a special discounted price when they purchase tickets online. Tickets to Senior Night are just $3 when bought online at kstatesports.com and fans use the promotional code V14FUN. November 27th will be the final match of JuliAnne Chisholm’s and Lauren Mathewson’s careers. Come send them off with a strong showing and buy your tickets today as the special price expires on November 24.

Packed with Purple
Ahearn Field House has been rocking this season with an average attendance of nearly 2,100 fans. K-State fans have always been loyal to their Wildcats when it comes to volleyball with the fans ranking in the Top 30 in national attendance regularly. This season K-State is currently 14th in the nation in attendance and third in the Big 12 Conference behind only Nebraska (2) and Texas (9). Missouri (17), Iowa State (19), Texas A&M (22), Colorado (42), Oklahoma (43), Kansas (45) and Baylor (48) all rank among the schools averaging more than 800 in attendance as of matches played through November 14 as tracked by Diane Nordstrom of Wisconsin.

After recent renovations to the seating were completed, the fans have come to watch the Wildcats play in droves with all but one home match reaching 1,300 in attendance. In the Big 12 Conference opener against Kansas, the Wildcat faithful filled the rafters with 3,160 fans to cheer the team to victory. K-Staters then packed 3,695 fans into Ahearn for the match against Missouri (9/25). That is the third largest attendance for a home match since the 2003 season and is among the most attended matches in the nation to date this season.

Mathewson Among Big 12 Elite
Senior libero Lauren Mathewson has put her name in the record book a number of times during her career at K-State, and she now has solidified her place in Big 12 Conference history. Mathewson’s 1,685 career digs rank second in K-State history and she is now fifth in Big 12 history.

With four current liberos in the conference starting for three and some four years at their respective schools the career Top 10 list in the Big 12 had quite a bit of shuffling this season. Iowa State’s Ashley Mass surpassed K-State’s Angie Lastra for first on the list, and Missouri’s Caitlyn Vann stands fourth with 1,863. Mathewson is fifth, and Nebraska’s Kayla Banwarth is sixth with 1,628.

Mathewson posted her seventh 20-dig match of the season against Baylor (11/13) to tie her for seventh in a single season in school history in the category. It also gives her 22 for her career to stand in second alone over Laura Downey. She also has had four matches with 19 digs -- all of which came in three-set matches. Mathewson currently ranks fifth in the conference averaging 4.75 digs a set and has 470 digs on the year to rank ninth in school history for a single season. Her dig total in conference play only gets better as she is digging 4.93 balls a set in league action to rank third behind only  Mass (5.31) and Vann (5.22).

Two Wildcats Named Academic All-District
The Kansas State volleyball team has a long history of combining success on the court with success in the classroom. This year’s senior captains JuliAnne Chisholm and Lauren Mathewson added to that list of classroom achievements as they were each selected to the CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-District VII Team.

Chisholm was named to the first team for the second consecutive year making her eligible for Academic All-America voting. She currently has a cumulative GPA of 3.97 in athletic training/pre-med and life sciences with a secondary major in gerontology.

Mathewson was voted to the third team for her first Academic All-District honor of her career. She holds a 3.84 GPA majoring in business administration and will graduate in December. Mathewson also has a pair of Academic All-Big 12 First Team awards on her list of academic accolades receiving the award each year she has been eligible.

The Wildcats have now had 16 Academic All-District selections under head coach Suzie Fritz in her 10 seasons leading the program.  

“Por”ing it on
Freshman outside hitter Lilla Porubek has emerged as a go-to player for the Wildcats late this season. Her kill production has seen significant improvement, and she recently pounded out a new career-high nine kills at No. 5 Nebraska last week. In the loss to Nebraska, Porubek had nine kills and led the team with 27 attempts. She has posted five or more kills in five of K-State’s last six matches with seven against No. 12 Iowa State (10/27), six in the win over Texas Tech (11/3), five against Baylor (11/13) and eight versus Texas A&M (11/17).

The native of Budapest, Hungary, missed the first two weeks of the season to represent her country on the Hungarian Junior National Team at the 2010 European Championships.