Cats Volleyball Beats North Florida

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Sparked by two strong opening sets and three players in double-figure kills, Kansas State defeated North Florida in four sets (25-18, 25-19, 21-25, 25-23) on the opening night of the Georgia Tech Invitational at O’Keefe Gym. That’s according to a release from K-State Athletics.

K-State’s (3-4) Kylee Zumach (16 kills), Bryna Vogel (11) and Macy Flowers (10) spearheaded a Wildcat offense that hit above .360 in each of the match’s first two sets. Vogel, a senior opposite, added 11 digs for her second double-double of the season while Flowers chipped in with five blocks, helping a K-State defense that held North Florida (4-4) to a .143 efficiency on the night.

“I was very pleased,” said head coach Suzie Fritz after the match. “I thought we played really well on both sides of the ball. We were looking for some kind of a differential between what we hit and what they hit. We were really pleased. We hit for a high efficiency and, maybe more importantly, we held them to 15 percent. I thought it was a good volleyball team. I thought we played very physically. We were significantly better on defense, better at the net.”

The Wildcats ended the match with season highs in total kills (60) – including a season-best 19 in the second set – and service aces (8) to end a four-match losing streak that dated back to the opening weekend of the season.

Junior libero Reilly Killeen led the K-State back row with 16 digs to help the Cats to a 57-39 dig advantage. Junior outside hitter Alyssa Schultejans contributed three blocks with middle blocker Peyton Williams and Vogel each had a pair of stuffs. UNF did not eclipse a.200 team hitting percentage in any of the match’s four sets.

“Our middles were all really good,” Fritz added. “(Elle) Sandbothe came in and played well. Flowers and Williams got the start and they both played really well. A number of positive things that tell us we are getting better.”

Sandbothe finished with three kills on four attempts with a block in three sets of action.

With the scored tied at 14 in the opening set, K-State rattled off five straight points and forced UNF to use both of its timeouts in that span. The five-point gap was enough for the Cats to close out the set, 25-18. Vogel had five kills on six swings without an error in the frame as K-State hit .367 (14k-3e-30ta) as a team. Flowers had three kills on as many attempts in set one.

K-State never trailed in the second set and hit .368 on its way to a season-high 19 kills. The Cats held North Florida to a .103 hitting efficiency behind 17 digs and a pair of blocks. Schultejans and Zumach each had five kills in the second stanza.

In a set it largely trailed, K-State managed to tie the score at 21 late in the third following back-to-back kills from Zumach. After using its final timeout, UNF scored the next four points to claim the set. The Ospreys limited the Cats to a match-low 11 kills and .121 hitting percentage.

Zumach added five more kills in the final set in which K-State led throughout. The redshirt junior led the Cats in kills for the sixth time in seven matches this season.

Junior transfer Brooke Smith tallied career-highs with 24 assists, seven digs and three aces. Killeen added a career-high four service aces. Redshirt sophomore Sarah Dixon had a match-high 30 assists.

K-State will play two matches on Friday to wrap up the Georgia Tech Invitational. The Cats will face off with Xavier at 10 a.m. CT before meeting host Georgia Tech at 7 p.m. Fans can listen to the Wildcats’ match with the Musketeers on KMAN 1350 AM with Friday’s match vs. the Yellow Jackets airing on ACC Network Plus.

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John Kurtz

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