Double-doubles from Sarah Dixon, Bryna Vogel and Kylee Zumach were not enough Wednesday night, as K-State’s upset bid of third-ranked Texas fell short in five sets, 25-21, 26-24, 18-25, 15-25, 11-15, at Ahearn Field House in front of a national television audience on ESPNU.
“I thought we were more consistent from start to finish,” said head coach Suzie Fritz after the match. “I didn’t think we gave up as many runs of points. I thought some of the small ball things we have been working on – in terms of managing tips, converting points … little things like that, I think we are starting to see the rewards.
“Defensively, I thought we were really good,” Fritz added. “We got a lot of hands in front of stuff and forced them to have to move the ball around a little bit more. I thought our back-row defense played phenomenally well. Bryna Vogel and Reilly Killeen and Devan Fairfield, in particular, played tremendous defense. They kept us in rallies and gave us opportunities.”
K-State (9-15, 2-9 Big 12) outhit and outkilled Texas (18-2, 10-0 Big 12) in each of the first two sets on its way to a two-sets-to-none lead, including leading throughout the opening set in which the Wildcats matched a season-high with 20 kills (.364).
Texas made a push late in Set 2, as it used a string of five straight points to tie the score at 21 and then again at 24 before back-to-back kills from Peyton Williams handed the Cats a 2-0 lead. K-State hit over .300 in each of the match’s first two sets.
The Longhorns returned the favor in Sets 3 and 4. Texas hit its highest percentage of any set in the third (.318) and then forced the Cats into 12 errors and a -.095 attacking percentage (8 kills, 42 attacks) behind six team blocks in the fourth set.
In the final set, K-State held an 8-5 lead as the teams changed ends. However, Texas would go on to score the next four points as part of a 10-3 run to end the match and push its winning streak to 12 matches and extend the Cats’ season-long skid to six matches. UT has now won the last 29 meetings in the series, dating back to 2003.
“We weren’t as efficient, I think we backed off just a little bit after we got up two,” Fritz said was the biggest difference following K-State’s two-set lead. “I thought our serving got a little bit soft and serve and pass was probably the biggest difference. And, frankly, they [Texas] got better. They didn’t make as many errors and managed the match a little bit better and tip a little more. There’s a reason that they are where they’re at – it’s not one or two [people], you’ve got to contend with a lot of things.”
Vogel turned in a team-high 19 digs with 11 kills while hitting .290 on her way to her second straight double-double and ninth on the season. Killeen added 18 digs while Fairfield contributed nine.
Zumach recorded a match-best and season-high 19 kills to pair with 10 digs for her third double-double of the campaign. Dixon dished out a team-high 30 assists with 12 digs and leads the squad with 10 double-doubles on the year.
“We feel like if we continue to make that kind of effort and those kind of performances, the results will eventually take care of themselves,” Fritz finished.
A trio of Wildcats registered three blocks to spearhead the defense – Macy Flowers, Williams and Zumach. Flowers ended the night one kill shy of reaching double-figures and picked up six kills in K-State’s Set 1 win.
Texas, the Big 12’s leader in blocks per set and opponent hitting percentage, ended the night with 14.0 blocks compared to 6.5 for the Cats. UT middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu finished with a match-best 11 blocks. K-State hit .192 (63 kills, 26 errors, 193 total attempts) in the match.
The Longhorns were led offensively by Micaya White with 17 kills while freshman outside hitter Lexi Sun finished with 16. UT hit .264 (71k-23e-182ta) as a team.
K-State next faces No. 12 Kansas (19-4, 8-2 Big 12) in the season’s second installment of the Sunflower Showdown in Lawrence.