By Chris Kutz, K-State Athletics Communications
NORMAN, Okla. – The K-State volleyball team, after winning the first set and holding a late lead in the fourth, fell to Oklahoma, 3-1 (24-26, 26-24, 25-20, 25-23), on Wednesday in McCasland Field House.
The loss for K-State (22-7, 9-6 Big 12), its sixth-straight at Oklahoma, dropped it into a three-way tie with Kansas and Iowa State for third in the Big 12 standings entering the final slate of regular season matches this Saturday. Oklahoma (20-9, 10-5 Big 12), meanwhile, grabbed sole possession of second with its season finale this Saturday at Kansas.
The Wildcats had 18.5 blocks to help neutralize the Oklahoma attack, which entered the night with the second-best team hitting percentage in the Big 12, but the Sooners managed to out-kill K-State, 58-46.
Redshirt senior Chelsea Keating paced K-State in kills with 12 on a .308 hitting percentage. The outside hitter also had eight blocks and three digs.
Freshman Kylee Zumach joined Keating in double-digit kills with 11. She had three of K-State’s four aces as well, which were her first career aces.
Three Sooners reached double-figures in kills, led by a match-high 19 from Kierra Holst.
Redshirt senior Natali Jones led all Wildcats with 10 blocks, her second career match with double-digit blocks. Fellow middle blocker Katie Reininger added six blocks to go with her nine kills.
K-State was forced to climb out of a couple late deficits in the first before it could claim the win. Trailing 17-13 and coming out of their second timeout, a kill by Katie Brand sparked a 5-1 run for the Wildcats. Oklahoma called its own timeout at 18-18 and went on to take a 23-20 lead following an ace by Holst. The Wildcats once again came back, though, with another kill by Brand igniting a burst that saw K-State score six of the final seven points in the set. K-State was up against Oklahoma’s set point at 24-23, but kills by Zumach, two of her seven in the set, sandwiched an Oklahoma attack error to help gain the early 1-0 advantage in the match.
In the second, both offenses struggled to find their rhythm, with the Sooners out-hitting the Wildcats, .156-.029. K-State held a three-point advantage at 13-10, but Oklahoma erased the deficit before the two sides traded points for the remainder of the set. Trailing 21-20, the Wildcats leapt ahead with a kill by Keating followed by an Oklahoma attack error to take a 22-21 lead. Oklahoma faced its first set point at 24-23; however, Reininger’s kill on a slide evened it up at 24-all. The Sooners regained the lead on a kill by Holst and went on to clinch the set on K-State being in the net during its final attack.
K-State faced a four-point deficit in the third at 15-11, but it clawed back with the help of three of Oklahoma’s 14 service errors from the match taking place over an 8-4 run. The Wildcats tied it up at 19-19 on a kill by Keating, forcing Oklahoma to halt the momentum with its final timeout. The Sooners fired out of the break, scoring five unanswered points to bring them to set point at 24-19. Keating interrupted the spurt with a kill, but Oklahoma collected the set-deciding point on a K-State service error, which had nine in the match.
The Wildcats held an 18-12 lead in the fourth, but Oklahoma scored 11 straight points, with the help of four kills and three blocks, to surpass K-State for the lead at 23-18. The Wildcats went on their own run to make it interesting, keyed by a pair of kills and a block assist by Keating. The Sooners fought off the Wildcats’ comeback bid with a K-State service error and match-clinching kill by Holst.
K-State ends its regular season on Saturday, November 29 at home against West Virginia. First serve in Ahearn Field House is set for 8 p.m.