MANHATTAN, Kan. (Kansas State Athletics) – K-State saw Elena Baka, Aliyah Carter and Ava LeGrand each produce double-doubles in its lone exhibition contest Friday night, as the Wildcats took down Wayne State in five sets at Bramlage Coliseum, 25-17, 22-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-12.
Carter led K-State with 18 kills while logging 13 digs and Baka put down 17 kills with 15 digs. LeGrand, a freshman setter, dished out 34 assists to go with 11 digs. Sydney Bolding rounded out a trio of Wildcats in double-digit kills, as she finished with 12 at a team-best .346 efficiency.
WSC, who is ranked No. 17 in the AVCA Division II preseason coaches’ poll, was led by Kelsie Cada with a match-best 24 kills to pair with 16 digs. Setter Rachel Walker handed out 50 assists while recording 20 digs.
“I think it’s exactly what we needed,” said head coach Suzie Fritz. “A frustrating team that plays really good defense, they made it hard to kill it. (They have) two pretty physical middles and it was challenging because they were really mixing their shots a lot. There was a lot of tip and roll and we had to figure out how to handle that and convert that, which was a challenge.
“I just thought we were too high error. Just being able to manage the ball a little bit better, manage our swings a little bit better – to me, that’s where it was getting away from us at times. Connecting the contacts is the most difficult part of the sport.”
K-State limited Wayne State to a .141 team hitting percentage, as the Wildcat defense totaled 11 blocks and 102 digs. Kadye Fernholz led the front line with eight blocks (seven assists, one solo) while Carter finished with four blocks.
Libero Mackenzie Morris paced five Cats in double-figure digs, as the junior registered a match-high 33 digs. Sophomore Molly Ramsey was second on the team with 16 digs from the back row.
Baka, a senior transfer from Saint Mary’s, played six rotations in her first action with K-State. Her 17 kills matched her career high with the Gaels, as she posted four double-doubles while at SMC. Baka’s 17th kill of the night ended the preseason contest.
“I think she’s really good at volleyball,” Fritz said of Baka. “She’s an exceptional all-around player and made it so we can’t take her off the floor. She handles it really well, and her passing was really impressive tonight. I’m really pleased with where her game is at and how complete it is.”
Two new setters spit time in the five-set victory, as LeGrand was joined by senior Loren Hinkle who converted from defensive specialist. Hinkle ended with 23 assists while appearing in three sets.
“At times, I think they were really good,” Fritz added of her two setters. “They’re going to get better as they go, but I thought that they problem-solved really well. If they made a mistake, they corrected it quickly. But it’ll iron itself out, we knew that both those setters are going to need match experience and that’s the best thing they could’ve gotten tonight was playing under the lights and figure out how to better the ball.”
K-State owned a 67-58 edge in total kills to go with a 102-92 advantage in total digs.
In the fifth set, the Cats turned in a .273 team efficiency while limiting WSC to a .067 mark, with Carter putting down three kills on six attacks. K-State picked up three blocks in the final frame with Fernholz taking part in all three (two assists, one solo).
K-State will officially open its 2022 campaign next Friday at the K-State Invitational at Bramlage Coliseum. Over two days, the Wildcats will take on Sam Houston, NC State and Florida A&M.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- K-State hit .204 as a team (67 kills, 27 errors, 196 attacks).
- Wayne State turned in a .141 hitting percentage (58 kills, 30 errors, 199 attacks).
- Baka, Carter and LeGrand each produced double-doubles.
- Carter turned in a team-high 18 kills at a .245 pace to go with 13 digs.
- Baka posted 17 kills with 15 digs while LeGrand handed out 34 assists along with 11 digs.
- Bolding led the Wildcats with a .346 hitting efficiency, putting down 12 kills on 26 swings.
- Morris led all players with 33 digs, leading five Cats in double-figure digs.
- Ramsey logged 16 digs.
- Fernholz recorded eight blocks (seven assists, one solo) to go with eight kills.
- Hinkle dished out 23 assists in her first action as a setter.
- K-State produced 11 total blocks, with Carter tallying four and both Baka and Bolding each logging three.
- Cada led Wayne State with 24 kills at a .253 clip.
- Taya Beller added 18 kills while hitting .213.
- Walker turned in a double-double with 50 assists and 20 digs.
- Each side finished with four service aces.