Sept. 27, 2012
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MANHATTAN, Kan. – Thursday night marked the first time K-State volleyball had ever faced new Big 12 Conference member West Virginia, and the Wildcats welcomed the Mountaineers to Ahearn Field House with a clean sweep. K-State got the victory 25-8, 25-19, 25-17 to mark the 12th sweep of the season for the Wildcats and hand West Virginia its third loss in conference play.
Junior middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger put her name in the record books as she joined the 1,000-kill club, pounding out 13 on the night. Pelger is now 16th in school history in career kills with 1,005. She posted nine digs and also hit .600 to put together a complete effort for the Wildcats.
“The thing I was most excited about tonight is something that no one really pays attention to and that was her passing,” Fritz said of Pelger’s performance. “She got aced the first ball of the game and she came back and passed terrific the entire rest of the match. I thought she handled it great. They served a lot of balls at her, but she passed terrific.”
K-State (14-1, 1-1) hit .368 in the win thanks to another strong performance from senior setter Caitlyn Donahue. Eight Wildcats in addition to Pelger tallied kills in the match with the only players not to register a kill were defensive specialists. Donahue had her 30th career double-double as she tallied 11 digs on defense to go with her 38 assists. She also was one of the team’s top servers as she had a pair of service aces.
The Wildcats jumped on West Virginia (8-8, 0-3) early as the Mountaineers struggled to handle K-State’s serve and offensive firepower. K-State would go on a 12-0 in the opening set to take a 22-5 lead. West Virginia would fail to reach double digits in the first frame, marking the first time K-State has held a conference opponent under 10 points in a non-shortened fifth set in the rally scoring era, which started in 2001.
Serving was one of K-State’s strengths on the night with the Wildcats notching seven aces. Fritz said she was pleased with how her team did at the line to apply pressure all night. Defensive specialist Tristan McCarty led the team with three aces.
“We served extremely well, which we wanted to get back to a little bit and have that be an identity of our team that we can put a lot of pressure from the service line,” Fritz said. “We were a little high error trying to do it. I thought we made some uncharacteristic misses, but I liked the aggressiveness.”
West Virginia was led on offense by Nikki Attea with six kills and libero Anna Panagiotakopoulos paced the defense with 12 digs on the night.
Thursday night’s match was 70’s Night and many fans joined Willie Wildcat in 70’s garb for the match. The atmosphere was again something Fritz highlighted during her postgame press conference, thanking the fans and students for their continued support of the volleyball team.
“All I know is volume and I thought they were tremendous,” Fritz said. “We’re going to have to bring back 70’s Night because that was nice. Our students are awesome. They are supporting us like crazy. They love us and we love them back.
“We are so thankful and appreciative of all that they do for us and the support that they give us, not just in volleyball but for all the sports. I just live it that they love their volleyball team.”
The Wildcats have a quick turnaround as they hit the road Friday afternoon to travel to Texas and take on the Baylor Bears on Saturday evening in Waco. K-State will be looking for its first win at the Ferrell Center since 2008 and to get its first conference road win of the season.