MANHATTAN, Kan. (Kansas State Athletics) – K-State and its undefeated record hit the road for the first time this season, as the Wildcats head to the UCF Challenge at The Venue from September 1-3, where they will take on Syracuse, North Florida and UCF.
K-State, who starts its season 3-0 for the first time since 2013, opens the three-day tournament against Syracuse on Thursday at 3 p.m. CT and continues Friday against North Florida at 3:30 p.m. CT. The Cats will finish the weekend against future Big 12 foe UCF Saturday at 6 p.m.
The Wildcats defeated Sam Houston, NC State and Florida A&M on its way to the K-State Invitational title. Elena Baka and Sydney Bolding were both voted to the all-tournament team, with Baka claiming MVP honors after leading the team with 26 kills and eight aces.
Through the season’s first week, K-State leads the Big 12 in blocks per set (3.15), service aces (23) and opponent hitting percentage (.049). The Cats’ opponent efficiency allowed is the third-best mark in the country while their blocks per set ranks 12th.
K-State’s matches against Syracuse and North Florida will be broadcast on FloVolleyball while the UCF tilt can be seen on ESPN+. Rob Voelker will call all three days with Thursday’s contest begin carried on News Radio KMAN (93.3 FM). All three matches can be heard at K-StateSports.com/Watch or on the K-State Sports app.
K-STATE (3-0, 0-0 BIG 12) vs. SYRACUSE (2-1, 0-0 ACC)
Thursday, Sept. 1 // 3 p.m. CT // The Venue // Orlando, Fla.
Watch: FloVolleyball ($) (Despina Barton, Meg Fitzgerald)
Radio: News Radio KMAN (Rob Voelker)
Listen: K-StateSports.com/watch // 1350KMAN.com
K-STATE (3-0, 0-0 BIG 12) vs. NORTH FLORIDA (1-2, 0-0 ASUN)
Friday, Sept. 2 // 3:30 p.m. CT // The Venue // Orlando, Fla.
Watch: FloVolleyball ($) (Eric Lopez, Meg Fitzgerald)
Listen: K-StateSports.com/watch // 1350KMAN.com (Rob Voelker)
K-STATE (3-0, 0-0 BIG 12) at RV UCF (0-0, 0-0 AAC)
Saturday, Sept. 3 // 6 p.m. CT // The Venue // Orlando, Fla.
Watch: ESPN+ (Eric Lopez, Meg Fitzgerald)
Listen: K-StateSports.com/watch // 1350KMAN.com (Rob Voelker)
K-STATE AT A GLANCE
- K-State started its 2022 campaign with a 3-0 start at the season-opening K-State Invitational at Bramlage Coliseum, picking up wins over Sam Houston, NC State and Florida A&M.
- The Wildcats began a season with three consecutive victories for the first time since 2013 and opened its home schedule 3-0 for the second straight season.
- Senior transfer Elena Baka was tabbed K-State Invitational MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by Sydney Bolding.
- Baka played six rotations in all three contests and Led K-State with 26 kills and eight service aces.
- Baka picked up a double-double in the Cats’ four-set win over NC State, registering 12 kills and 10 digs.
- Bolding was the team’s efficiency leader, as she hit .537 in racking up 22 kills without an error over the weekend.
- She posted a career-best 13 kills on 26 swings against the Wolfpack and added six on 12 attempts against the Bearkats.
- As a team, K-State held its opponents to a combined .049 hitting percentage – tops in the Big 12 in the opening weekend.
- The Wildcats limited Florida A&M to a -.041 team efficiency while holding NC State to .058 over four sets.
- K-State racked up 17.5 team blocks against the Wolfpack, which eclipsed its season high a season ago.
- Kadye Fernholz was the team leader with 18 total blocks and currently leads the Big 12 at 1.80 blocks per set.
SCOUTING THE FIELD
- K-State travels to future Big 12 member UCF for the three-day UCF Challenge at The Venue in Orlando, Florida.
- The Wildcats will open the even against Syracuse, who went 2-1 at the Charlotte Invitational.
- The Orange defeated Campbell in four sets and earned a five-set win over Wofford before falling in straight sets to Charlotte.
- SU was led by Polina Shemonavoa and her 50 kills (4.17 per set) and Victoriia Lokhmanchuck’s 43 kills (3.91 per set).
- K-State will take on North Florida on Friday after the Ospreys went 1-2 at the Gators Invitational in Gainesville, Florida.
- UNF took the opening set off host No. 15 Florida before the Gators took the next three sets.
- North Florida earned a three-set win over East Tennessee State to finish the weekend after being swept by Virginia.
- Mahalia White paced the Osprey offense with 4.80 kills per set at a .383 pace.
- UNF, the No. 6 team in the ASUN’s preseason poll, feature ASUN Defensive Player of the Year in libero Rocio Moro.
- Future conference foe UCF will complete the weekend for the Wildcats, as the Knights are coming off a trip to the second round of last season’s NCAA Tournament.
- UCF, who did not play in the season’s opening weekend, is the unanimous favorite to win the American Athletic Conference as the four-time defending AAC champion.
- Outside hitter McKenna Melville was tabbed AAC Preseason Player of the Year for the third straight season.
- Melville was joined on the Preseason All-AAC Team by setter Amber Olson and middle blocker Claudia Dillon.
INSIDE THE SERIES
- K-State opens owns the all-time series edge against the three other teams in the field at the UCF Challenge.
- The Wildcats are 2-1 all-time against Syracuse, however, the Orange claimed the last meeting in 2017 – a four-set decision in Manhattan.
- Syracuse will mark the second ACC team that the Cats will face this season, as K-State is 18-10 against teams from the conference.
- The Cats won the only previous matchup with North Florida, a four-set victory in 2017 at the Georgia Tech Invitational.
- Head coach Suzie Fritz is 3-0 all-time against teams from the Atlantic Sun Conference.
- Saturday’s contest will mark the first between K-State and UCF since the 2014 season, as the Cats are 2-0 against the Knights all-time.
- It will be the first road meeting in the series for K-State, as this will be the last meeting between the sides as non-conference opponents.
- Fritz is 16-2 against teams from the American Athletic Conference.
BOLDING BREAKING OUT
- Senior middle blocker Sydney Bolding had an opening weekend to remember as she was named to the K-State Invitational All-Tournament Team.
- It marked the first all-tournament selection of Bolding’s Wildcat career, as she transferred from Jacksonville before the 2021 season and missed the first three weeks of the season due to an injury.
- Bolding led the Cats, and currently ranks third in the Big 12 with her .537 hitting percentage.
- The Pickens, South Carolina, product did not commit a single attacking error over three matches, racking up 22 kills on 41 swings.
- Friday against NC State, she set a career high with 13 kills while also totaling seven blocks.
- In the season opener against Sam Houston, Bolding put down six kills on 12 attacks and added a pair of aces.
- In the season’s opening weekend, K-State held its opponents to a combined .049 hitting percentage.
- The .049 mark is best in the Big 12 and third nationally.
- The Cats held Florida A&M to a -.041 team efficiency, as they forced the Rattlers into 21 errors while allowing only 18 kills.
- Behind 17.5 blocks, the Wildcats held NC State to a .058 team efficiency, a the block total tied for fourth-most in program history during a four-set match during the rally-scoring era.
- The 17.5 blocks also surpassed K-State’s season high from last season, while five players turned in at least four blocks against the Wolfpack.
- Fernholz is currently the Big 12 leader with 18 blocks and 1.80 blocks per set.
- The team’s 3.15 blocks per set average is best in the Big 12 and ranks 12th nationally.
NEW POSITION, WHO DIS?
- K-State senior Loren Hinkle made the switch of defensive specialist to setter ahead of the 2022 season.
- She earned the start in each of the Wildcats’ first three matches, handing out 73 assists (9.13 per set) in leading her team to a 3-0 start.
- In addition to setting career-high assist totals, Hinkle also tallied seven blocks, including six against NC State, for the first stuffs of her collegiate career.
- Hinkle led the offense to a .313 efficiency over three matches, with a .357 mark against Sam Houston the opener.
1K IN A HURRY
- Juniors Aliyah Carter and Mackenzie Morris are each approaching the 1,000 club in kills and digs, respectively.
- In just over two seasons, Carter has racked up 781 kills while Morris has accumulated 812 digs.
- Each have played in just 52 career matches, including the shortened 2020-21 season which featured only 21 contests.
- If both remain at their current pace, they would be the fastest players in K-State history in the rally-scoring era to reach the 1,000-kill and -dig milestones.
- Currently, Carter’s career average of 4.03 kills per set is tops in program history during the rally-scoring era while Morris is second at 4.01 digs a set.