Sept. 20, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The K-State volleyball team limited Arkansas to a sub-.100 hitting percentage while it also recorded 11.5 blocks, including a season-high nine by Kaitlynn Pelger, as the Wildcats swept Arkansas 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-17) to open the Arkansas Invitational on Friday at Barnhill Arena.
The Wildcats (10-1) turned in an all-around effort to beat the Razorbacks (6-4) on their home court. K-State's 11.5 team blocks paired nicely with its .060 hitting percentage against over the match - including a .000 Arkansas clip in the first set.
"We were well prepared," said head coach Suzie Fritz. "Our coaches did a good job of putting game plans together and the players did a great job of executing those game plans."
While Pelger paced the team with nine blocks - a season-high for any Wildcat this season - fellow seniors Courtney Traxson and Dakota Kaufman had six and five blocks, respectively.
Kaufman had seven of her nine kills in the match during the second set. Kaufman, who hit .263 for the night, also had a perfect 1.000 hitting clip in the middle set. Pelger had seven kills, 10 digs, two assists and two aces. Pelger increased her career total in kills to 1,305 as she is only the sixth player in K-State history with more than 1,300 career kills.
Redshirt freshman setter Katie Brand had 24 assists, eight digs, four kills and one block.
The Wildcats' 25-23 first set win was sparked by K-State's 5.5 team blocks. A series of blocks early on pulled the Wildcats closer before Tristan McCarty had K-State's first ace of the match to tie it at 13-13. K-State forced Arkansas to 12 attack errors in the first set and 29 total in the match.
"There's no question blocking is a momentum opportunity, and so is covering," said Fritz. "Those are two things we did really well tonight. When we took swings - and [Arkansas is] a pretty big and physical team at the net as well - we did a nice job of covering to give our hitters some second and third opportunities."
After hitting at a .056 clip in the first set, K-State quickly turned it around offensively when they registered a .462 hitting percentage in the second set. Kaufman carried the Wildcats in the second set as she had seven of the team's 14 kills with the perfect hitting percentage. Early in the set, a 4-0 K-State run, highlighted by three straight Wildcat kills, extended its lead to 9-3. Traxson had three of her five kills from the match during the brief run.
Pelger's first ace of the night returned K-State's lead to six points, 17-11, in the second set. The Razorbacks answered, though, with back-to-back aces a few points later to trim the Wildcats' lead to 17-14. K-State did not relent, and Pelger's first kill of the night clinched the second set for the Wildcats, 25-18.
A .750 attack percentage by the Wildcats on their first four attempts in the third set helped them open a 7-1 advantage. Kaufman and Natali Jones combined for a block to give the Wildcats' their largest lead in the set, 16-7, before, fittingly, Kaufman and Pelger combined for a block to give K-State match point.
The 11.5 team blocks for K-State on Friday was the fourth time this season the Wildcats had 10 or more blocks in a match.
K-State wraps up its turn in the Arkansas Invitational with a 12 pm match against Saint Louis on Saturday, September 21. The match can be heard live either on k-statesports.com or KMAN 1350.