K-State volleyball’s Kylee Zumach recorded her 1,000th-career kill Wednesday night, but No. 11 Kansas took the season’s second Sunflower Showdown in four sets, 14-25, 25-21, 25-15, 25-22, at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
Zumach becomes just the fifth player in K-State history to play her entire career in the rally-scoring era (since 2001) and reach 1,000 kills. Her total places her seventh in program history in the rally-scoring era and she is the 18th Wildcat all-time to join the 1,000-kill club.
“It’s just a really cool accomplishment,” said Zumach. “I’m really happy that I could do it with this group of girls. I’ve played with some really great volleyball players. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and coaches, family, the K-State family and support staff. It’s a bittersweet night, but not a lot of people can say they did that.”
“She’s big time,” head coach Suzie Fritz said of Zumach. “In so many ways, not just her kill production but as a leader. Kylee has an infectious competitiveness to her. She competes so hard and loves to play so much and has a such a strong presence on our team. I’m really happy for her.”
Zumach, a redshirt junior from Buffalo, Minnesota, entered the night needing just five kills to reach the milestone and tallied her fifth kill early in the second set. Zumach ended the night with a team-high 15 kills – the 16th time she has paced the team in the category in 25 matches this season.
K-State (9-16, 2-10 Big 12) was dominant in its wire-to-wire opening-set win. Conversely, the match’s final three sets saw 22 tied scores along with nine lead changes. KU (21-4, 10-2 Big 12) closed Set 3 on an 11-3 run to take a 2-1 match lead, hitting .500, before finishing the comeback in the fourth set.
“I thought we competed hard,” said Fritz. “I thought, at times, we were playing good volleyball. I think we are still trying to become the team that we are capable of becoming and doing things consistently well.
“I thought we were the better serve and pass team early. Then late, when those things started breaking down, they [Kansas] got a lot better as the match went. Their quick hitters got a lot more involved and they started to manage their errors a lot better. The momentum for us shifted and changed a little bit late in the match.”
Though Zumach was the only Wildcat to reach double-figure kills, libero Reilly Killeen and opposite Bryna Vogel recorded 20 and 18 digs, respectively, to lead the defense. Freshman Brynn Carlson, junior Macy Flowers and redshirt freshman Peyton Williams all added three blocks.
K-State limited KU to just six kills to go with six errors (.000) in the opening set. Zumach had a set-high four kills while Brynn Carlson added three to help the Cats hit .243 (14 kills, 5 errors, 37 total attacks). K-State led from start to finish in the frame, jumping out to a quick 7-2 lead and never looking back. Carlson picked up the first two aces of her Wildcat career in the set.
In Set 2, the Cats rushed out to an early 8-3 lead after an ace by setter Sarah Dixon, only to see the Jayhawks claw back and level the score at 12. After exchanging blows, the sides found themselves locked at 19 before KU finished the set on a 6-2 spurt to take the set 25-21. The back-and-forth set saw a total of nine tied scores and four lead changes. Flowers led the Wildcat offense with three kills in the set to go with a pair of blocks.
The match’s third set saw eight ties, as five straight points by the Jayhawks turned an 8-8 score into a 13-8 game. K-State crawled with two at 14-12, but KU closed the frame on an 11-3 run as it hit a match-best .500 in the set (17k-2e-30ta). Elle Sandbothe, Vogel and Zumach each tallied three kills in the set without an attacking error.
After falling behind early in Set 4, K-State used a 10-3 run midway through the frame to take a 17-16 lead. The teams traded points and the Cats trailed by one at 23-22 before back-to-back blocks by the Jayhawks closed out the match. Zumach recorded six of K-State’s 12 kills in the final set.
Dixon and fellow setter Brooke Smith handed out 23 and 19 assists, respectively. Vogel ended with eight kills and Flowers was the team’s efficiency leader at .294 (6k-1e-17ta).
KU finished with a .196 hitting percentage to K-State’s .182. The Jayhawks recorded one more kill (48-47), one more assist (45-44), one more block (7.0-6.0) and two more digs (66-64) than the Cats in the match.