COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Kansas State Wildcats extended their winning streak to nine matches in an exciting five-set match on the road against the Missouri Tigers on Wednesday. The Wildcats got the victory 31-33, 25-20, 25-21, 19-25, 15-12 with a complete effort by the team to keep the fifth longest winning streak in school history alive.
K-State (13-3, 2-0) was led by Kaitlynn Pelger with 23 kills on the night to mark her seventh 20-kill match of the season. She also posted her seventh double-double on the year with 16 digs in the victory. A total of three Wildcats were in double digits with kills as Lilla Porubek posted a new career-high with 20 kills. Kathleen Ludwig had a season-high with 15 kills. Ludwig also had a double-double as she tallied 12 digs. Four players reached double digits in digs for K-State led by libero Kuulei Kabalis with a career-high 23. Tristan McCarty also shined for the Wildcats in the win with 13 digs. In directing the offense, setter Caitlyn Donahue also had a career-high in assists with 67.
Missouri (14-5, 1-2) saw Lisa Henning lead the way with 24 kills. She was joined in double digits by Emily Wilson and Brittney Brimmage with 14 and 12, respectively. The Tigers and Wildcats were evenly matched on offensive with K-State hitting .264 overall and Missouri tallying a percentage of .263. Each team was also a force at the net with 13 blocks for the Wildcats and 15 for the Tigers.
Both teams traded blows in the fifth set with neither building a sizeable lead or scoring more than two points in a row. The Wildcats and Tigers each went to their go-to players and fan bases from each side also battled it out with their respective cheers before the Purple and White came out victorious on a kill by Porubek. During the fifth set, there were only five occasions where a team scored consecutive points, and the edge went to the Wildcats.
The Wildcats jumped to a large early lead thanks to their block and were able to hold Missouri’s offense back. K-State was able to side out Missouri’s serve throughout much of the set as the Tigers did not score consecutive points at all until they finally scored on their own serve to make it 19-15 in favor of the Wildcats. Missouri would find its rhythm then and fight back tying the score at 23-23 and again at 24-24.
After Missouri tied the set at 24-24, both teams traded blows for a while with 16 straight points going to the receiving team. Missouri would finally score a point on serve and win the set 33-31. It marked the most points scored in a set for both teams this season.
K-State bounced back in the second set jumping to another quick lead and this time not surrendering it. After 13 tied scores and one lead change in the first set, there were only four ties and one lead change in the second. The Wildcats went on a 6-0 run to pull ahead 14-6 and never looked back. The closest Missouri got was two points at 18-16, but K-State answered with two straight points to put the pressure back on the Tigers. Missouri could not answer the bell with the Wildcats rolling to the 25-20 win to even the match heading into the intermission.
The Wildcats continued to spread the offense around with Pelger, Porubek and Ludwig in the third set. It was another early run that put the Wildcats on top, and K-State hit .381 for the set to put the Tigers away 25-21. K-State took advantage of some opportunities when Missouri’s defense was not in sync to score some points and won the long rallies again to take the advantage.
K-State looked poised to close the match in the fourth with an early run, but Missouri battled back to force a pivotal fifth set. The Wildcats struggled on offense in the fourth set hitting just .064 compared to Missouri’s .250. The Tigers relied heavily on Henning and Wilson in the set to get the win.
The Wildcats will continue their road trip this weekend when they head to College Station, Texas, to take on the Texas A&M Aggies. First serve is set for 6:30 p.m. from Reed Arena and can be heard on 1350 KMAN.