Wildcats Sweep Baylor, Snap Losing Streak




11-3 (0-1 Big 12)

9-5 (1-1 Big 12)

Shelly Fanning: 13 kills, .545%
Tola Itiola: 6 kills, .600%, 3 blocks
Andie Malloy: 7 kills, 5 digs, 3 blocks, 1 ace

Katie Reininger: 13 kills, .579%, 3 digs, 2 blocks
Brooke Sassin: 8 kills, .280%, 4 blocks, 1 ace
Katie Brand: 32 assists, 7 kills, 5 digs, 1 ace

TEAM 1 2 3 4 5
Baylor 20 10 23 -- --
K-State 25 25 25 -- --

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The K-State offense broke out for a season-high .388 attack percentage to help it snap a four-match losing streak with a sweep of Baylor (25-20, 25-10, 25-23) on Saturday in Ahearn Field House. 

The Wildcats (9-5, 1-1 Big 12) earned the victory in their Big 12 home opener by hitting over .300 against Baylor (11-3, 0-1 Big 12) for the first time since 2008. K-State never hit below .351 in any of the three sets - and as high as .481 in the second - while committing just two unforced attack errors (nine errors total). Overall, K-State had just 14 total errors to Baylor’s 22.

“I thought we played extremely well,” said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz. “We hit high .300’s - that’s rolling along pretty well. We didn’t press - sometimes in those tight-game situations you can press, make more service errors, attacking errors, net fouls, things like that. We stayed consistent and pretty low error. I thought that was the difference in the end.”

The K-State offense was balanced as four attackers had between 18 and 25 swings. Redshirt junior Reininger led the way in kills with 13 on 19 attacks. Her hitting percentage of .571 (two errors) was her best since her career-high of .625 on November 12, 2014 vs. KU. 

“(Reininger) worked incredibly hard to get good swings,” added Fritz. “She was really strategic in terms of being purposeful with how she was attacking. She hit some, she tipped some - she really mixed it up, maybe more than she normally does.”

Junior Brooke Sassin and freshman Schultejans each turned in eight kills on 25 and 18 attacks, respectively. Sophomore Vogel recorded her seven kills on a .333 hitting percentage, her best clip since September 12 at Middle Tennessee (.385).

Brand directed the Wildcats with 32 assists while adding seven kills (.700 hitting percentage), five digs and an ace. 

The setter's ace, which brought the second to set point, was one of seven by the Wildcats, their most since tallying a season-high nine in a sweep of Green Bay at home on September 4. Vogel and Schultejans tied for the team-high with two aces apiece, with the pair by Schultejans giving her a team-best 15 this season.

Both sides came out swinging offensively in the first as K-State registered 15 kills on a .353 efficiency while Baylor had 16 on a .333 average. The difference proved to be errors by the Bears as they had four at the service line and two more than the Wildcats on the attack (5-3). A service error by Baylor’s Shelly Fanning made it 18-15 K-State, but the Bears pulled within one at 19-18 and forced the Wildcats to call a timeout. Reininger used one of her four kills in the opening set to help the Wildcats pull back ahead by two out of the timeout while Sassin and Zsofia Gyimes also had kills to give K-State a four-point advantage at 22-18. The Wildcats later scored their final two points with the help of a Jana Brusek service error and Katie Staiger attack error, which was upheld following a coach’s challenge.

In the second, K-State scored 17 of the final 21 points to easily win the set, helped by a sideout percentage of 90%. Offensively, the Wildcats had 16 kills, with no player recording more than four, on a .481 attack percentage while defensively, K-State limited Baylor to just six kills and a .091 clip.

The Wildcats had an early advantage at 8-4 in the third, but the four-point lead was the largest K-State would hold in the set. Despite six ties, K-State never trailed after the first point, though, as the Wildcats pulled away from a 14-all tie with three straight points and then again at 19-all with another 3-0 burst. The last one, capped by an ace by Mattie Batchelder, forced Baylor to burn its final timeout at the 22-19 mark.

Reininger helped bring the third to match point with back-to-back kills, but Baylor fought off the Wildcats’ first two attempts to end the match with kills by Fanning and Morgan Reed. The Wildcats called a timeout at 24-23 to regroup and then sided out on a match-ending kill by Sassin.

The win was also K-State’s fourth in the last five years against Baylor at home as the Wildcats are 16-5 all-time against the Bears in Manhattan.

The Wildcats have their first midweek conference bye of the season this week and return to action on Saturday, October 3 at TCU for a 5 p.m. match.

K-State’s .388 hitting percentage was also the highest by a Baylor opponent this season, besting the previous standard of .268 set by Dayton on September 11.

The last time the Wildcats hit above .300 against the Bears was on October 25, 2008. K-State hit .321, helping it to a 3-2 win in Waco.

K-State has now won back-to-back meetings against Baylor, which is the first time either school has won consecutive matches in the all-time series since the Wildcats won two in 2012.

Kersten Kober had a match-high 15 digs as no other Wildcat had more than five in the match. Through two matches, the junior is averaging 5.71 digs/set (40 digs/7 sets) in conference play.

K-State improved to 41-5 against unranked opponents at home since 2011.