Sept. 13, 2013
Box Score |
BERKELEY, Calif. - A double-double by Lilla Porubek, which included season-highs in digs and kills, helped the K-State volleyball team outhustle Cal Poly to a 3-1 (25-21, 25-21, 25-27, 29-27) win in the Hilton Garden Inn Invitational at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.
For Porubek, her team-high 16 kills were attributable to working seamlessly with teammate, setter Katie Brand. The effort to find more rhythm the between the hitter and setter began much sooner than Friday morning's practice.
"I personally went up to Katie and said, `I want to take more swings,'" said the senior outside hitter. "She's always willing to work together. She's also my roommate, so we talked a lot yesterday on what was going well and what was not going well. We figured it out between Thursday and Friday."
The ability to convert more swings for kills was a vast improvement for K-State (8-1) between Thursday and Friday. In addition to Porubek, three other Wildcats tallied double-digit kills, including 14 from Kaitlynn Pelger, 12 from Courtney Traxson, and 10 by Dakota Kaufman. Brand, meanwhile, finished with her fifth double-double of the season, registering 49 assists and 14 digs.
While the offense improved, the defense effort was "excellent," as head coach Suzie Fritz put it. The Wildcats held Cal Poly (4-4) to a .124 overall hitting percentage in the match, including sub-.100 clips in the first and second sets.
"We knew we were going to have to fight for points," said Fritz. "Cal Poly is going to play long rallies, and they are going to play fast. We prepared ourselves for that. If they are going to dig a lot of balls, then we need to dig a lot of balls."
The Wildcats finished with 86 digs to Cal Poly's 87. K-State led in the digs category 40-35 after the first two sets.
K-State quickly showed no ill effects from their first loss of the season on Thursday as the `Cats jumped out to a quick start with a 4-0 lead in the first set. A block by Brand and Taylor Johnson combined with a Kaufman kill and two Cal Poly errors gave the Wildcats the early advantage.
The Mustangs climbed back in, leading 13-12 before a Johnson kill, her second of the young match, tied it at 13-13. Later in the set, Traxson's back-to-back kills highlighted five straight points for the Wildcats and gave K-State a 21-16 advantage. Gina Madonia provided effective serves throughout a 5-0 run to keep the Mustangs out of system.
"[Cal Poly is] a team when they are in system and passing well, their speed can cause a great deal of problems," said Fritz. "In the first two games, we did a nice job of serving them out of that speed."
The two sides traded points early on in the second set before Porubek's third kill of the set gave K-State a 12-11 advantage. The kill also set off a 4-1 run for the Wildcats, which also included kills by Kaufman and Brand. Cal Poly closed the gap to 15-14, but once again, the Wildcats responded with another run. A Pelger kill ignited the stretch that eventually made the score 20-15 with a service ace by Madonia and block by Pelger.
Coming out of a timeout trailing 14-11 in the third set, K-State climbed back in starting with a kill by Kaufman. She added another kill after the Wildcats hustled to keep the rally alive by diving around the court and turning a free ball situation into a 15-14 Cal Poly lead. Back-to-back aces by Brand gave K-State a 16-15 lead. The Wilcats led 21-16 in the set, but six Mustangs kills and an attack error later, the match was tied at 22-22. The Mustangs converted set point in extra points with a block by Maddie Kuber and Taylor Gruenewald.
In the fourth set, the Wildcats trailed by as much as 17-10, but a Pelger kill began the K-State comeback. The Wildcats slowly drained the advantage, and facing the possibility of set point, Courtney Traxson and Pelger combined for a block to make it 23-22 Cal Poly. The Mustangs still brought it to set point one rally later, but a dump kill by Brand and attack error by the Mustangs evened the match at 24-24. Knotted up at 27-27, kills by Porubek and Johnson ended the drama and gave the Wildcats the match.
K-State wraps up the Hilton Garden Inn Invitational on Saturday with a 1 pm match against #23 Cal. The Golden Bears beat Cal Poly on Thursday and faced Santa Clara after K-State's match.