Cats Fend Off WVU in Five Sets Wednesday




18-8 (7-6 Big 12)

12-14 (3-9 Big 12)

Brooke Sassin: 14 kills, .250%, 11 digs
Katie Brand: 40 assists, 10 digs, 6 blocks, 7 kills
Kersten Kober: 25 digs

Payton Caffrey: 12 kills, 8 digs
Mia Swanegan: 22 kills, 7 blocks,
Erin Slinde: 55 assists, 8 digs

TEAM 1 2 3 4 5
K-State 26 25 22 22 15
West Virginia 24 19 25 25 10

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. Katie Brand and Brooke Sassin each recorded double-doubles and the Kansas State volleyball team fended off West Virginia’s comeback bid for a five-set victory (26-24, 25-19, 22-25, 22-25, 15-10) Wednesday night at the WVU Coliseum. K-State picks up its 18th win of the season, eclipsing last season’s win total, and recorded a season-high 18.0 team blocks as the Wildcats swept the season series with the Mountaineers for the second straight year.

“This was hard-earned,” said Brand after the match. “Give them credit. West Virginia never quit even when we were up two sets. We had to fight for every point. The rallies were long and both team wanted to win, we just wanted it a little more.”

K-State (18-8, 7-6 Big 12) tallied multiple blocks in four of the five sets en route to its highest output since 2014 and closed each of the first two sets with stuff blocks, putting West Virginia (12-14, 3-9) in an 0-2 hole. Freshman Elle Sandbothe had a hand in each of those set-ending blocks on her way to picking up a career-high nine rejections.

WVU clawed back to level the match at two sets apiece – a first for a Wildcat opponent this season – to force a fifth and decisive game.

Junior Bryna Vogel began the final set with back-to-back service aces as Kansas State jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead and led from start to finish. The K-State defense held the Mountaineers to a negative attacking efficiency (-.045; 7k-8e-22ta) behind 4.0 blocks in the set. Vogel produced all four of K-State’s aces on the night, a career high for the right-side hitter.

“Capturing the momentum early in the fifth set is always key for us,” Brand added. “We’ve seen firsthand what happens if we don’t get it and we fall behind early. Volleyball is all about momentum and when you can get even a little bit in a fifth set, it can propel you the rest of the way.”

K-State managed to take a tightly contested first set, 26-24, as neither team led by more than three points. The Wildcats faced set point, down 24-23, but responded out of a timeout by scoring the next three points to close out the opening frame. Each team hit under .200 as both sides recorded over 20 digs, led by libero Kersten Kober with 10 of the Cats’ 21 in the set. K-State managed 4.0 team blocks, paced by Vogel with three.

Tied at 12, K-State went on an 8-2 run midway through the second as it opened up a 20-14 advantage. Neither team was able to lead by more than a single point at 12-12 before the Cats’ run. Fueled by 6.0 more team blocks, K-State maintained its cushion and finished the set 25-19. The Wildcats hit .300 (15k-3e-40ta), their highest in any set, while holding WVU to just .111 (14k-9e-45ta). Middle blocker Katie Reininger added three blocks in the set to lead the Cats while Sandbothe recorded four kills.

Similar to the first set, the third was played entirely within a six-point window, as the largest lead for each side was just three points. K-State led 11-8 before the Mountaineers tied the game, 15-15, and again at 18-18. WVU managed to score the final three points to clinch a 25-22 set win. The Mountaineers hit .231 (16k-7e-39ta), their highest in any set on the night. Kober dug seven balls as she had 21 digs through the first three sets.

The Cats trailed for much of the fourth set but managed to cut the Mountaineer lead to a single point at 23-22, but back-to-back kills by WVU’s Katelyn Evans and Payton Caffrey ended the KSU threat. The fourth set was the only set K-State did not record multiple blocks. Sassin picked up four of K-State’s 11 kills in the set as it hit at .290 (2e-31ta) as a team.

Six Cats produced at least three blocks, led by Sandbothe with nine and Reininger with seven, as the K-State defense held its opponent under .200 for the third time in its last four matches. The Wildcats also forced WVU’s Caffrey, a five-time Big 12 Rookie of the Week honoree, into more errors (14) than kills (12) for a negative attacking efficiency.

Sassin led the team in kills for the third straight match and was the only Wildcat to crack double figures with 14. Six Wildcats had at least seven kills in the match – Reininger (9), Vogel (9), Sandbothe (8), Brand (7) and Kylee Zumach (7).

Brand picked up her conference-leading 16th double-double of the season with 40 assists and 10 digs. With 11 digs, Sassin collected her sixth double-double of the year.

Kober ended the night with a team-best 25 digs, her fourth 20-dig match of the 2016 campaign.

Kansas State returns home to Ahearn Field House as it hosts Oklahoma on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. The Cats claimed the first meeting of the season in Norman in four sets on Oct. 15. The match between the Wildcats and Sooners will be broadcast world-wide on K-StateHD.TV with Brain Smoller calling the action and Liz Wegner-Busch serving as the analyst. Fans can listen to Rob Voelker call the match on local radio on 1350 KMAN and at


·         K-State is now 8-2 all-time vs. West Virginia, 4-1 on the road and have won the last four in the series.

·         K-State is now 3-2 in five-set matches this season and 3-3 on Wednesdays.

·         K-State is 14-1 when winning the first set and 10-0 when leading a match 2-0 this season.

·         For the second time in the last three seasons, both meetings between K-State and West Virginia went the full five sets.

·         The match marked the first time since 2011 that the Cats had two five-set victories over a conference opponent in the same season (Missouri).

·         The Wildcats are 11-1 when holding their opponent under a .200 hitting percentage this season.

·         Sassin now has 998 career kills, two shy of becoming the sixth Wildcat in the rally-scoring era (since 2001) with 1,000 career kills.

·         Sassin picked up her sixth double-double of the season and 23rd of her career.

·         Brand collected career double-double 67, which is two shy of equaling the program record of 69 (Kim Zschau).

·         Kersten Kober leads all Wildcats with 23 double-figure dig matches and now has 16 career 20+ dig matches.