CHICAGO (Kansas State Athletics) – K-State turned in season lows in both kills and hitting percentage Friday night, dropping a four-set decision to Loyola Chicago at the Rambler Challenge at Gentile Arena, 26-24, 9-25, 23-25, 15-25.
K-State (7-2) managed just 35 kills while hitting .078, failing to break the .150 threshold in any of the night’s four sets. Sydney Bolding paced the Wildcats with 11 kills and a .391 efficiency while also leading the team with seven total blocks.
Aliyah Carter ended the night with nine kills while Elena Baka registered seven. Mackenzie Morris collected 19 digs in surpassing 900 career digs (916). Morris finished with a team-high three aces, with two coming in the fourth set.
Defensively, K-State racked up 11 blocks to extend its streak of matches with at least 10 blocks to three. Kadye Fernholz and Ava LeGrand each added four blocks and Loren Hinkle added three. Hinkle also handed out 22 assists along with eight digs.
The Wildcats’ first-set victory came after they erased an 11-point deficit and closed on a 14-3 run to stun the Ramblers and take a 1-0 lead. LUC hit .375 or better in the second and fourth sets, leading throughout in both frames.
Loyola (5-4) produced 17 more kills than the Cats while also holding a 72-52 advantage in total digs. Libero Grace Hinchman led all players with 23 digs while Emily Banitt led the attack with 11 kills at a .500 pace.
Esma Ajanovic and Sarah Murczek joined Banitt in double figures with 10 kills apiece, with Ajanovic hitting .533. Setter Bree Borum finished with 22 assists and 13 digs for her double-double.
LUC picked up 10 aces, with three apiece from Addie Barnes and Madi Corey.
K-State splits its Friday doubleheader to begin the Rambler Challenge after a straight-set win over Rutgers earlier in the day.
FROM THE HEAD COACH
Head coach Suzie Fritz
On what caused K-State trouble …
“(Loyola) is a tenacious defensive team – really, really good in the defense to transition phase, particularly back-row defense to transition phase. I thought their block caused us some problems as well, but overall, the separating factor was they were significantly better in transition than we were. It wasn’t so much first swing, we knew we would have to play long. They will make you play long, and they will dig and they will frustrate. I didn’t think that’s what we did, we didn’t play long enough. I think they’re very good at that.”
On Sydney Bolding’s effectiveness…
“I thought she was terrific. Any time you can get a middle that’s hitting nearly .400. I thought Loren did a really nice job finding her and almost forcing it to her at times because there was a point in the match that she was what we had going. But we’ve got to be able to have more balance and generate kill production from all positions, no question.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
Set One – K-State 26, Loyola Chicago 24
K-State dug itself into an early 7-2 hole, committing two attacking errors on its first eight swings without a kill. Following a Wildcat timeout, the Rambler lead swelled to 15-4 after an 8-1 LUC spurt.
The Cats began to chip away at Loyola’s lead, as a 5-1 run brought the score to 16-9. Later, back-to-back kills from Banitt put Loyola in front 21-12 and looked to seal the first set. K-State then went on a 14-3 run and ended the set by scoring the final seven points to stun the Ramblers, fending off four set-point opportunities in the process.
The Wildcats produced just eight total kills in the set and hit .061. However, it was the K-State defense that tallied seven blocks, forcing Loyola into 12 attacking errors against 12 kills.
Bolding led the Cats with three kills on four swings to go with five total blocks (one solo, four assists). LeGrand, who came off the bench, added four blocks to go with six assists.
Banitt accounted for half of the Ramblers’ kills, adding six on seven attempts without an error (.857).
Set Two – Loyola 25, K-State 9
Loyola scored nine of the first 10 points of the set and a four-point scoring run ballooned the Ramblers’ lead to 13-2. K-State was unable to mount a comeback, as the Wildcats recorded consecutive points just twice in the frame.
The Ramblers did not commit an attacking error in accumulating 12 kills on 32 swings (.375). Conversely, K-State was forced into six hitting errors while registering only six kills (.000). Anna Feldkamp produced three kills to pace LUC.
Loyola put together four different stretches of at least four straight points, including a pair of five-point bursts. Corey served up three of LUC’s six aces.
Bolding added a pair of kills and had five through two sets on six attacks. Haley Warner also put down two kills. Morris led the way with seven digs.
Set Three – Loyola Chicago 25, K-State 23
In a set that saw 13 tie scores and seven lead changes, neither team led by more than three points. A kill from Bolding gave K-State its final lead at 23-22, only to see the Ramblers rattle off three unanswered to take a 2-1 lead.
A four-point run that included an ace and kill by Bolding erased a 17-14 deficit. Bolding was one of four Wildcats to record three kills in the set, as she was joined by Baka, Carter and Fernholz.
Both sides hit below .150, with Loyola owning a 14-12 advantage in kills. Each side tallied three blocks in the frame. Fernholz and Hinkle picked up two apiece.
Murczek led the Ramblers with four kills on nine attacks while Loyola racked up 22 digs, nine coming from Hinchman.
Set Four – Loyola Chicago 25, K-State 15
The Ramblers led from start to finish in finishing the match and snapping K-State’s two-match winning streak. LUC hit a match-high .379 in collecting 14 kills, three coming from Ajanovic, Feldkamp and Taylor Venuto.
Loyola’s defense piled up 17 digs and three blocks in suppressing K-State’s attack to nine kills against six errors for an .086 mark.
Carter put down three kills on eight attempts without an error and Bolding added three more kills. Morris served up two aces to go with five digs.
Four straight points on Morris’ serve brought the Wildcats within a pair at 14-12, only to see Loyola stretch its lead to nine after a 9-2 burst. In total, the Ramblers closed on a 11-3 run, including seven of the last eight points.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- K-State hit .078 as a team (35 kills, 24 errors, 141 attacks).
- Loyola Chicago finished with a .209 hitting percentage (52 kills, 24 errors, 134 swings).
- K-State was held below .100 for the first time this season.
- It marked just the third time this season in which the Wildcats allowed an opponent to hit above .200.
- Bolding led the Cats with 11 kills at a .391 efficiency and seven total blocks.
- Morris logged 19 digs to extend her double-figure dig streak to nine matches.
- Carter finished with nine kills while Baka chipped in seven.
- K-State turned in 11 blocks, marking the third straight match with at least 10 stuffs.
- Fernholz and LeGrand each registered four blocks.
- Banitt led Loyola with 11 kills while hitting .500.
- Ajanovic picked up 10 kills at a .533 clip.
- The Ramblers tallied 14 blocks, led by eight by Venuto.
- LUC served up 10 aces to K-States five.
- The match held 15 tie scores and eight lead changes, with 13 ties and seven lead changes coming in the third set alone.
- K-State leads the all-time series with Loyola 3-2.
- This was the second straight season in which the teams have met.
- The Cats are 0-2 on the road against the Ramblers.
- The Wildcats are 17-5 against teams from the Atlantic 10 Conference while Fritz is 9-2.
- K-State is 0-2 in true road matches and 3-2 in all matches away from home.
- Morris eclipsed the 900-dig mark for her career and now has 916.
- The Cats are 2-1 in four-set matches this season.
K-State concludes the Rambler Challenge Saturday against St. Thomas, with first serve is set for 12 p.m. Live stats will be available at K-StateSports.com.