By Chris Kutz, K-State Athletics Communications
The K-State volleyball team had its 11-match winning streak snapped on Saturday in Ahearn Field House as the Wildcats fell to Baylor in five sets (13-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-22, 15-12) in both teams’ Big 12 Conference opener.
The Wildcats (13-2, 0-1 Big 12) led the match at 1-0 and 2-1, but Baylor (10-5, 1-0 Big 12) limited K-State to a .200 hitting percentage or lower in the final four sets after the Wildcats hit .370 in the first.
“I thought that when we were good, we were good, and unfortunately when we were bad, we were bad,” said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz. “A big part of winning volleyball matches is that you have to win the serving and receiving battle. We came out rolling in set one, and then they came out far more aggressive in set two with their serving, and in some regards, we just fell apart offensively.”
K-State did manage to out-hit (.178-.152) and out-block (17.5-10.0) Baylor for the entire match, but the Bears offense, after hitting -.200 in the first, worked around the Wildcat block to tally 53 kills to K-State’s 40 over the final four sets.
The loss also snapped K-State’s 13-match winning streak in five-set matches. The last loss for the Wildcats in five sets was at Baylor on Oct. 29, 2011.
“We are not happy about it,” said redshirt sophomore Sheridan Zarda about the loss. “I know that coming in Monday…we are going to show that we are ticked off. We are going to turn it around. We are going to pick up the small things that need to be fixed.”
Freshman Kylee Zumach led the Wildcats with 18 kills while she also added four blocks. Sophomore Brooke Sassin had 14 kills, as well as five blocks, to join Zumach as the only two Wildcats in double-figures in kills.
Redshirt sophomore Katie Reininger led K-State with nine blocks. Redshirt senior Natali Jones had seven blocks, and redshirt sophomore Katie Brand chipped in five to help the Wildcats tally 10 or more blocks in a match for the third straight contest and eighth time this season.
K-State controlled the first set, forcing Baylor to hit into nine attack errors opposed to its four kills. Offensively, the Wildcats had four players record multiple kills, led by four by Zumach. Baylor never pulled any closer than four after 10-6, with a kill by Zumach later sealing the set.
Both Baylor and K-State led the entire second and third sets, respectively. The Bears pulled away in set two with a 8-2 run midway that made it 18-9 while in the third, K-State faced set point at 24-14, but the Bears went on a 9-0 run with the help of four kills, two blocks and two K-State errors to make it 24-23. An attack error, though, by Baylor’s Sam Hill gave K-State the third, 25-23.
K-State, despite trailing for most of the fourth set, clawed back into the set with a 7-1 run that made it 22-21 Baylor. Back-to-back kills by redshirt senor Chelsea Keating pulled the Wildcats within the one point, but Baylor put the Wildcats away with three of the next four points on kills.
The Wildcats were never ahead in the fifth and only managed to tie the score twice early. Baylor’s efficient .350 hitting percentage in the final set was too much, despite K-State pulling within two, 13-11, after a kill by Zumach and a duo block by Jones and Brand.
The Wildcats will hit the road for the first time in Big 12 play this season when they take on KU in the Sunflower Showdown in Lawrence on Wednesday, October 1. The match starts at 6:30 p.m.