K-State Unable to Overcome Victoria’s Big Night

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K-State had no answer for Arkansas outside hitter Pilar Victoria (34 kills, 14 digs) in a five-set loss (25-21, 14-25, 23-25, 25-15, 9-15) to the Razorbacks Thursday night at Ahearn Field House to kick off the K-State Invitational. That’s according to a release from K-State Athletics.

Senior opposite Bryna Vogel tallied 11 kills (.476) and 14 digs for her first double-double of the season while setter Sarah Dixon handed out 31 assists to go with 10 digs in posting the first double-double of her career. Kylee Zumach was K-State’s (2-2) leader in kills for the fourth straight match with 12 and Alyssa Schultejans added 10 to complete a trio of Wildcats to reach double-figures.

“There are some positive things, I think, that we can take away from it,” said head coach Suzie Fritz after the match. “Clearly, we are disappointed with the loss but I liked out serve and pass. We are trying to find a lineup that gels and allows us to be good on both sides of the ball. That’s an ongoing process for us right now.

“The only place that it really got away from us was the ability to defend left-side attack,” Fritz added. “It’s hard to imagine that someone could get seven kills a game against us. Having said that, I think Pilar Victoria is an elite outside hitter and very, very talented. It was our hope we could upgrade defensively and, at least, make it a little tougher for her.”

Victoria, who entered the match leading the country in kills per set, came one kill shy of matching her career-best output in leading the Razorbacks to their fourth straight win to begin the season. The redshirt senior had just eight errors on 68 swings to hit .382.

The Cats hit .364 (17k-5e-33ta) in claiming a quick 1-0 match lead before Arkansas and Victoria responded by taking the next two sets. Victoria tallied 11 kills in the second set and eight more in the third while the Razorbacks held K-State under a .200 team hitting percentage in both the second and third sets.

Trailing two sets to one, K-State responded with a wire-to-wire, 25-15 victory in set four – the only set in which it was able to contain Victoria, who had three kills but four attacking errors in the set. As a team, Arkansas had as many errors as kills (10) in the frame for a .000 attacking efficiency.

A 7-2 run by the Razorbacks in the final set ended the Wildcats’ hopes of a comeback victory. Arkansas collected 11 kills without an error (20 swings), hitting .550 in the final set.

“I don’t know if it was as much went wrong for us as it was what went right for them,” Fritz said of the fifth set. “They played really well at the end and I don’t think we got great swings there at the end of the match and, in contrast, we still couldn’t stop her (Victoria).”

Defensively, junior middle blocker Macy Flowers led K-State with three blocks. The Cats recorded three more blocks than Arkansas (7.0-4.0) in the match. Flowers also added six kills.

Junior-transfer Brooke Smith picked up a career-high 13 assists and six digs in splitting time at setter and recorded both of K-State’s service aces in the match.

K-State continues the three-day tournament at Ahearn Field House Friday against Syracuse. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and the match will stream live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

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