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MANHATTAN, Kan. – With yet another sweep on Saturday night, the No. 22 Kansas State volleyball is off to the best start in the program’s history at 9-0. The Wildcats are undefeated through the first three weeks of the season after a 25-22, 25-23, 25-18 win over Utah State in Ahearn Field House.
The Wildcats battled with the Aggies as Utah State (5-4) applied pressure with its serve, but K-State answered with middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger’s third double-double of the season to get the win. Pelger led the Wildcats with 11 kills and 12 digs for her 18th career double-double.
Utah State was able to post seven aces on the Wildcats while K-State had none and had six service errors. After the match, Head Coach Suzie Fritz said Utah State did a good job of keeping her team out of system with its serve and was happy to see her team manage to overcome that challenge.
“They put an enormous amount of pressure on us with their serving. Saint Mary’s did the same thing (Thursday),” Fritz said. “We felt like we were prepared for it, but when it came right down to it, we were not as prepared. In the long run, it will be good for us to have somebody get after us and respond from that and recover from it.”
K-State managed to limit the Aggies to hitting only .100 as a team to overcome that tough serving thanks to another match with double-digit blocks. The Wildcats stuffed the Aggies 10 times to mark the fourth time already. Last season K-State had 15 matches with 10 or more digs all season.
Pelger was not the only Wildcat to shine offensively on the night. Senior co-captain Kathleen Ludwig had seven kills on nine swings with only one error for a hitting percentage of .667. Junior outside hitter Lilla Porubek came up big again when needed with nine kills and five digs. Pelger also led the team in blocks with six.
Defensively, K-State had five players post at least five digs. The Wildcats shut down Utah State in the third set with the Aggies posting a negative hitting percentage as a team with eight kills and 10 errors.
Utah State saw setter Paige Neves tally a double-double with 35 assists and a team-high 12 digs. Libero Ashlan Rogers also had 10 digs. Rachel Orr was the Aggies’ top attacker with 10 kills on the night.
K-State surpasses the 8-0 starts from 2005 and 1988 for the best start in school history with the 9-0 record thus far. Pelger said she and her teammates are excited for the great start to the season but know there is still room for improvement for the Wildcats.
“It is awesome, a 9-0 start. I am at a loss for words right now, but we still want to get better,” Pelger said. “We did not play to our best ability tonight, which sounds funny since we won in three games, but we want to do more than just win,” Pelger said. “We want to be better. This coming week we are facing some tough teams, so we are super excited.”
The Wildcats will play in one of the top tournaments on the slate next week when they travel to the Golden Hurricane Invitational in Tulsa. K-State will take on the likes No. 10 Dayton, No. 15 Minnesota and the hosting Tulsa Golden Hurricane. All four of the participating teams went to the NCAA Tournament last season.