Wildcats Set for Senior Night

Lauren Mathewson

Nov. 26, 2010

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State closes its season this weekend as the Wildcats face the Colorado Buffaloes one last time as conference opponents. This will be the final match Colorado plays in the Big 12 Conference before joining what will become the Pac 12 next fall, and first serve is set for 7 p.m. on Senior Night at Ahearn Field House.

Saturday will be the final match of seniors JuliAnne Chisholm’s and Lauren Mathewson’s careers at K-State, and each has made an impact on the program and will be recognized at the conclusion of the match.

Chisholm earned ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America honors last season to become the program’s third academic all-American. She is a two-time Academic All-Big 12 selection and two-time ESPN Academic All-District VII First Team selection. Chisholm will be continuing her athletic career when she joins the women’s basketball in January. Mathewson ranks second in career digs in K-State history and also is fifth in Big 12 Conference history. In Wednesday’s win over Kansas she became the first player in school history to tally three 500-dig seasons.

In the first meeting between these two teams this season, the Buffaloes bested the Wildcats in five sets to snap a six-match losing streak to K-State. Colorado followed that with a win over Kansas but has won only one match since for a season overall record of 6-19.

K-State comes into the match fresh off an exciting win over in-state rival Kansas on Wednesday. The Wildcats fought off a late charge by the Jayhawks after winning the first two sets, and KU forcing a pivotal fifth set. K-State saw the youth of the team come up with big performances as freshman middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger tallied a career-high 20 kills. Freshman outside hitter Lilla Porubek also had a career-high in kills with 16. Sophomore middle blocker Alex Muff stole the show with her defensive effort at the net posting an impressive 13 blocks to help shutdown the Jayhawks and get the win.

On The Airwaves
Saturday’s match can be heard live 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
Kansas State has controlled the series with Colorado since Suzie Fritz took over the program in 2001. The Wildcats trail the all-time series 22-26, but Fritz is 13-6 against the Buffaloes. The Wildcats had won six straight against Colorado before falling in their first match earlier this season.

This will be the final matchup between these two teams as members of the same conference with Colorado leaving for the Pac 12 next season.

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 .626.

Colorado: Liz Kritza (Tulane, 2000) is in her second year coaching the Buffaloes after leading them to a 7-22 record last season. This year the Buffaloes are 6-19 overall and 3-16 in Big 12 Conference action.

Scouting the Buffaloes
The Buffaloes are finishing out their final season as members of the Big 12 Conference this weekend. Colorado is joining what will become the Pac 12 next season as the Pac 10 will also add Utah to the mix.

Colorado comes to Manhattan after dropping each of its last 10 matches, most recently in five sets to Texas Tech at home in the Coors Events Center. The Buffaloes are 10th in the Big 12 Conference standings with a 3-16 record against league foes.

The Buffaloes are led by Kerra Schroeder as she averages 3.89 kills a set and is hitting at a .185 clip. She plays a big role on the back row for Colorado as well ranking second on the team in digs with 2.15 a set. Schroeder also is the team’s best server leading the Buffs in aces.

Schroeder is joined by Anicia Santos as the team’s top offensive threats. Santos averages 2.17 kills a set and leads the team in hitting percentage at .280. Santos also is second on the team in aces and blocks. Defensively for Colorado, Megan Beckwith leads the way with 4.11 digs.

Colorado played in one of the longest matches of the year earlier this season when the Buffaloes defeated Texas Tech on the road. The Buffaloes got the win in five sets with the fifth set going far beyond the 15 points necessary to win. Colorado got the win 24-26, 20-25, 25-15, 26-24, 28-26 as three of the sets went to extra points.

Catching up with the ‘Cats
Kansas State notched a dramatic win over in-state rival Kansas in five sets on Wednesday. After K-State won the first two sets, the Jayhawks won the third and fourth to force a fifth set that saw the Wildcats dominate.

Freshman middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger took over the match in the fifth set with three kills, two blocks and an ace early on to set the tone and grab the momentum. Pelger had a career-high 20 kills total on the night, and freshman Lilla Porubek also had a career night with 16 kills. Alex Muff shut down the Jayhawks at the net as she elevated for an impressive 13 block assists in the win to rank third in school history for a five-set match.

Pelger has regained the hot hand lately with career-high kill totals in two of the last three matches. Pelger posted career-highs in kills with 18 and hitting percentage as she hit for a .577 clip against Texas A&M a just over a week ago. Also in that match, she assisted on five stuff blocks, had eight digs and tallied three aces in the 3-1 loss to Texas A&M. In the win over KU on Wednesday, Pelger also had six digs, three blocks and a pair of aces.

Senior Night
The final home match of the season will be Senior Night for senior captains JuliAnne Chisholm and Lauren Mathewson. The pair close their careers with K-State volleyball against Colorado and have led the Wildcats to 70 wins so far in their career.

Packed with Purple
Ahearn Field House has been rocking this season with an average attendance of nearly 2,000 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 18th in the nation in attendance and third in the Big 12 Conference behind only Nebraska (2), Texas (10) and Missouri (16). Iowa State (19), Texas A&M (22), Kansas (40), Colorado (43), Oklahoma (44),  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.

Hot Hand
Freshman middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger turned up the heat on opposing defenses in late September and is back at it again down the home stretch of the season. From September 22 at Colorado to October 13 at Iowa State Pelger averaged an impressive 3.35 kills a set over those seven matches. Perhaps more impressive was her ability to kill at an efficient rate. Her hitting percentage is .398 combined in those matches including two five-set matches with her hitting .500 or better.

Most recently, Pelger pounded out a new career-high 20 kills in a win over Kansas on Wednesday. Pelger also added six digs, three blocks a pair of aces to the mix. Her hitting percentages have begun to climb again with performances of .577, .286 and .326 in K-State’s last three matches. Pelger has posted nine or more kills in five of K-State’s last six matches, including 18 against Texas A&M (11/17).

The Olathe South product put together two of her most complete matches for the Wildcats in both their matches against Texas A&M. In K-State’s road sweep of the Aggies (10/2) Pelger pounded out 12 kills on a .370 hitting clip to go with six digs, three blocks and an ace. At home on Nov. 17, she had a then career-high 18 kills and .577 hitting percentage while adding eight digs, five blocks and three aces.

Pelger has posted some of the top performances in the conference so far this season at the net averaging 0.88 blocks. Pelger has also proven to be one of the team’s top servers as she posted four aces at No. 16 Kentucky and leads the team with 31 for the season.

Muff Stuffs Tough
Sophomore middle blocker Alex Muff has increased her offensive and defensive production in 2010 after emerging midway through the season last year. Her 11-kill and .435 hitting percentage against Colorado last year has become a more familiar site as she has posted 13 matches of at least a .300 hitting percentage and surpassed five blocks in 12 contests. Her 1.32 blocks per set this season rank 30th in the nation, and she currently is first in the Big 12 in blocks during league action stuffing 1.42 per set.

Her performances against Kansas and Texas Tech earned Muff her first Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week award (9/20). In the Big 12 opener against Kansas she notched a career-high in blocks in the win over the Jayhawks as she was in on nine stuffs to narrowly miss a rare double-double for a middle blocker as she pounded out 12 kills. Muff hit .500 in the contest to lead the Wildcats. Against Tech, Muff was nearly perfect on the attack posting eight kills on 12 swings without an error. She also assisted on seven blocks while the team’s only other block was a solo stuff by JuliAnne Chisholm.

Muff earned All-Tournament honors for her showing at the Varney’s Kansas State Invitational. Over the three matches, Muff averaged 2.11 blocks while hitting .391 and posting 2.44 kills. This season muff has hit .316 or higher in five of seven matches and posted at least five blocks in five matches as well. At the UK Invitational she hit .500 in a sweep over VCU on 10 swings and posted her first 10-kill match of the season against No. 16 Kentucky as she pounded out 10 kills on a .364 hitting clip and added four blocks.

On Wednesday, Muff had one of the best performances in school history as she stuffed 13 block assists at Kansas to help lead the Wildcats to the win. The 13 block assists rank third in school history for a five-set match.

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 1,733 career digs rank second in K-State history and she is 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 1,926. Mathewson is fifth, and Nebraska’s Kayla Banwarth is sixth with 1,652.

Mathewson posted her ninth 20-dig match of the season against Kansas on Wednesday to stand alone for third in a single season in school history in the category. It also gives her 24 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 4.80 digs a set and has 518 digs on the year to rank fourth in school history for a single season. Her dig total in conference play only gets better as she is digging 4.99 balls a set in league action to rank third behind only Mass (5.33) and Vann (5.51).

By cracking the 500-dig mark on Wednesday she became the first player in school history to post three digs of 500 or more digs. She needs just 15 digs to move into third for a season this year to give her the No. 3, No. 5 and No. 6 totals in school history.

Chisholm, Mathewson 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 18 kills at Kansas on Wednesday. In the exciting win over the Jayhawks, Porubek had 16 kills. It was the second straight match she posted a career-high in kills. She also tied her career-high of seven digs and had six blocks for a new high.

She has posted five or more kills in seven of K-State’s last eight matches. 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.

Wildcat Wall
Kansas State has traditionally been one of the better blocking teams in the Big 12 Conference. After falling from the top four in the league the last two seasons, K-State is back near the top averaging 2.44 blocks a set to rank third the Big 12 and 47th in the nation. The Wildcats have posted 10 or more blocks in 10 matches this season, including 13 at No. 5 Hawaii,15 against 2009 NCAA Tournament team Georgia Tech and most recently 18.5 against Kansas on Wednesday

The Wildcats top four blockers include two sophomores and two true freshmen. One of those blockers ranks among the national leaders as well with sophomore Alex Muff standing 30th (1.26) after an impressive nine blocks against Baylor (11/13). Muff’s total jumped significantly with 13 blocks at KU on Wednesday and should see her ranking move up when the NCAA releases updated statistics on Monday.