By Chris Kutz, K-State Athletics Communications
CARBONDALE, Ill. – Freshman Kylee Zumach had a career-high 23 kills to help lead the K-State volleyball team to a four-set victory (25-27, 25-22, 27-25, 25-23) over Marshall on Friday to open the Saluki Invitational in SIU Arena.
Zumach, who became the first Wildcat to have at least 20 kills in a match this season, used a .419 hitting percentage (five errors, 43 attempts) to pace a K-State (7-1) offense that out-hit Marshall (3-5), .293 to .222. The outside hitter had 16 kills in the final two sets, including nine in the fourth, to help K-State also record its fourth straight win.
“Zumach played extremely well,” said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz. “She had some kills when we really needed them and did well in both good situations and bad situations. She managed the ball when she couldn’t get a good swing and killed it when she could.”
Outside hitter Brooke Sassin joined Zumach as the two Wildcats with double-digit kills as the sophomore also established a new career-high with 17.
While Sassin and Zumach combined for 40 of K-State’s 64 kills, three Wildcats helped K-State record 12.0 team blocks. A trio of Wildcats had at least five blocks, with Natali Jones leading the way with six. Chelsea Keating and Katie Reininger each had five.
The first point of the match featured a long rally, going 12 combined attacks from both sides before eventually falling in favor of Marshall. The rally, though, foreshadowed a match that saw 33 ties and 14 lead changes over the four sets.
“The ball went back-and-forth several times [on the first point], and that was a really good indication that we were going to have to play long,” said Fritz. “Sometimes playing long is good because it teaches us that we are going to have to grind it out. Long term, today’s match is a good one for us to be in because it had tight sets where you can’t do anything to hurt yourselves; you’re just looking to improve the situation that you can control.”
The first set alone had 13 ties and six lead changes, with the last lead change being made by Marshall at 23-22. Keating had back-to-back aces, giving her 10 on the season, to help K-State take the lead, but the Thundering Herd called a timeout to blunt the Wildcats’ momentum. Marshall went on to answer with a block after a bad set by Katie Brand that allowed the Thundering Herd to build an advantage that they never relented.
In set two, K-State held the lead throughout after building a five-point advantage at 12-7 following a kill from Sassin. Marshall did not quit, though, eventually pulling within 24-22, but one of Marshall’s six attack errors in the second gave the Wildcats the set, 25-22.
K-State was forced to complete a comeback late in the third set as the Wildcats trailed as late as 21-19. A duo block by Keating and Jones, though, ignited the K-State rally that went on to give K-State a 24-23 lead following another kill by Sassin. The Wildcats faced set point twice before breaking through on kill by Zumach, her seventh of the set.
After K-State started the fourth set with a free point after Marshall’s head coach was issued a red card, K-State made it 7-4 on consecutive kills from Sassin and Zumach. Marshall overcame the early deficit, taking an 11-8 lead on an attack error by Reininger, but an 8-1 run capped by a kill from Zumach built a 16-12 advantage for the Wildcats.
K-State led by three as late as 22-19, but Marshall went on a brief 4-1 run to tie it up at 23-23. A kill from Zumach followed by one of Jones’ eight kills gave K-State match point.
The Wildcats return to the floor tonight at 7 pm when they take on host Southern Illinois.