LAWRENCE, Kan. (K-State Athletics) – Three Wildcats produced double-figure kills to force a fifth set against rival No. 14 Kansas, but the Jayhawks managed to hold off the Cats, 25-16, 25-23, 20-25, 19-25, 15-12, to take the first Dillons Sunflower Showdown in front of a sellout crowd at Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena.
K-State (13-9, 7-6 Big 12) recorded a season-best 70 kills on the night compared to the Jayhawks 59. KU (17-4, 8-3 Big 12) was guided by opposite London Davis, as the junior led both squads with a career-high 28 kills at a .556 clip.
Three players reached double figure kills led by Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week Aliyah Carter. With her season-best output of 24 kills, Carter generated her 16th career 20-kill match to become the rally-scoring era 20-kill match leader.
Aniya Clinton posted 16 kills to the board for the Cats as the Big 12 Rookie of the Week registered her fourth consecutive double-digit match. Middle blocker Sydney Bolding added a career-high 15 kills as a Wildcat with an outstanding .625 hitting efficiency and five blocks.
Izzi Szulczewski paced out the 5-1 offense that hit .204 as she handed out a season-best 51 assists. A native of Beaverton, Ore., Szulczewski is the first Wildcats to reach 50 assists since November of last season with 50 from Loren Hinkle.
Senior Mackenzie Morris recorded her third 30-dig career match as the 2022 Big 12 Volleyball Scholar Athlete of the Year turned in a season-best 34. Carter and Szulczewski teamed up for 28 digs with 14 for both to earn a double-double.
FROM THE HEAD COACH
Head Coach Jason Mansfield
“First time in the rivalry match, it was exciting, and the crowd was great. Really proud of our comeback from the third and fourth set after being down 0-2 and a disappointing second set. We’re proud of how we battled, and our defense was really good tonight – 94 digs are a lot. We gave ourselves some chances. It’s tough to play a close match and lose. It’s happened a couple of times, but I think the resilience of our team to come back the next day and hopefully be better is what we’re going to focus on. A lot of really gritty effort. Sydney Bolding was phenomenal tonight offensively. It was great to see a lot of good individual performances. Just try to be a little better tomorrow, and I’m sure the environment will be great again.”
Set One – KU 25, K-State 16
KU jumped out to an 8-2 lead before the Wildcats took advantage of a 5-1 run to trim the Jayhawks lead to one, 13-12.
The Jayhawks immediately responded with a 8-1 run to claim the initial set.
London posted a set-high six kills for KU’s offense that hit .150 while the Cats were led by seven kills from Carter and Clinton.
Set Two – KU 25, K-State 23
After back-and-forth action, K-State took hold of a seven-point lead, 20-13. Momentum quickly flipped in favor of KU as the Jayhawks put together a 12-3 closing run to take to two-set lead.
Six Wildcats recorded a kill in the set that out-killed the Jayhawks, 18-14, with the help of seven from Carter.
KU out-blocked K-State 4.0-1.0 in the second led by three from Davis to go along with her 10 kills.
Set Three – K-State 25, KU 20
After five lead changes, the Cats collected a 9-1 scoring run to lead to the team’s first set win in Lawrence since 2020.
Carter and Clinton combined for 13 of the Cats 18 kills that hit a match-high .424 in the frame.
Set Four – K-State 25, KU 19
K-State kept its pace from the third set as the Wildcats to force the fifth and final set.
Bolding and Cater each tallied five kills followed by Clinton with four.
Set Five – KU 15, K-State 12
The Wildcats and Jayhawks continued to go back-and-forth, tying the fifth at 8-all.
KU held a two-point advantage, 13-12, over the Cats until a service error brought the set back within one. K-State was unable to even the score as an attack error and kill for Caroline Bien tabbed the final points to the board.
INSIDE THE BOX
- Kansas claimed a five-set battle Friday, 25-16, 25-23, 20-25, 19-25, 15-12
- K-State hit .204 with a season-best 70 kills (31 errors)
- The match had 33 tie scores with 16 lead changes.
- Carter turned in a season-best 24 kills (.162).
- Clinton had 16 kills while Bolding added a career-best 15.
- Bolding finished with a .625 hitting efficiency.
- Morris recorded a season-best 34 digs for her third career 30-dig match.
- Szulczewski dished out a season-best 51 assists with 14 digs.
- Bolding turned in five blocks while Clinton had three.
- Gregorski and Szulczewski each served up a pair of aces.
- KU hit .238 (59 kills, 15 errors)
- Davis led with a match-high 28 kills (.556) followed by Elnady with 18
- The Jayhawks out-blocked the Cats, 15.0-8.0
BEYOND THE BOX
- The Wildcats won their first set in Lawrence since 2020
- With 24 kills, Carter produced her 16th 20-kill match to become the rally-scoring era 20-kill match leader
- Morris recorded her third career 30-kill match
- K-State is 2-8 when dropping the first set
- The Cats are 4-3 against ranked opponents, 1-2 vs. Top 25 teams on the road
- K-State is 7-5 when playing on the road this season, 4-5 in true road games
- In Big 12 action, the Cats are 3-4 on the road
- K-State is 2-4 in five-set matches.
- The Wildcats lead the all-time series 67-59-1 and are 30-23 in Lawrence
The second match of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown is slated for a 3 p.m. first serve Saturday, with the action available on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ and the ESPN app.