MANHATTAN, Kan. (K-State Athletics) – The Wildcats set a single-season program record Wednesday night with its fifth victory over a ranked opponent this year, as K-State downed the No. 3 Texas Longhorns in straight sets at Morgan Family Arena, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21.
In front of its fifth sold out crowd of 3,044, K-State (14-10, 8-7 Big 12) registered its fourth straight victory over a ranked opponent at home with the program’s first win over UT since 2003, snapping a 39-match losing streak.
The Wildcats handed the reigning national champions their first Big 12 loss of the season, while K-State also became just the second team this season to sweep the Longhorns (18-4, 13-1 Big 12) alongside then ranked-No. 2 Stanford (Sept. 2).
The five Top 25 victories eclipsed the previous mark of four set in 1999, then again in 2000. K-State has now won a program record 12 straight sets at home against ranked foes.
— NCAA Women's Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) November 9, 2023
Aliyah Carter led a tremendous all-around effort by the Wildcats, who had a .351 efficiency (45 kills, 11 errors). A senior from Dubuque, Iowa, Carter submitted her 17th career match with 20 or more kills, registering a match-high 20 kills with just six errors for a .311 hitting efficiency.
Carter’s 20 kills ties fifth in the rally-scoring era for total kills in a single three-set match, marking the program’s first 20-kill three-set match since her 23 kills against Wayne State in 2021.
Aniya Clinton added seven kills on the night followed by Izzi Szulczewski and Brenna Schmidt with six. Szulczewski orchestrated the Wildcats’ 5-1 offense as the junior setter produced 31 assists to go with six digs.
Defensively, Mackenzie Morris handed in her 28th career 20-dig match. The Cats starting libero had a match-high 20 digs followed by Liz Gregorski with nine. Sydney Bolding had a match-high three blocks.
Texas hit .246 (44 kills, 14 errors), led by junior outside Madison Skinner with 14 kills followed by Molly Phillips (8) and Ella Swindle (7).
— K-State Volleyball (@KStateVB) November 9, 2023
Following a media timeout, a kill from Carter extended the Wildcats lead until the Longhorns collected two straight kills cut brought the score within one, 16-15.
With the Cats leading 21-18, the Longhorns put together a 4-1 scoring run to tie the set at 22-all.
A service error ignited Szulczewski and Schmidt teamed up for the block to give K-State set point.
K-State had an efficiency of .393 in the set with six players contributing to the Cats offense. Carter led with a set-high seven kills with nine assists from Szulczewski. The Cats out-blocked the Longhorns 3.0-1.0
Set Two – K-State 25, Texas 22
Bolding connected on a set from Szulczewski for the kill to keep momentum with the Wildcats. Gregorski evened the score at 7-7 with her 32nd ace of the season before a kill from Carter put the Cats on top.
K-State scored three straight points with kills from Clinton and Carter to grasp a four-point lead, 16-12, forcing a timeout from Texas.
A reversed call, in favor of K-State, gave the Cats a 22-19 advantage until the Longhorns worked their way to a one-point deficit.
A set-point Wildcats, Texas won their first challenge of the match to bring the set back within one, but an attack error returned K-State to set point.
Carter reached double figures in the second clip with seven of the team’s 14 kills.
Set Three – K-State 25, Texas 21
Texas took hold of a three-point lead, but following the media timeout, the Cats used a 3-0 run to even the score at 15-all with the help of K-State winning its second challenge of the night.
The Cats put together a 7-2 scoring run to grab a three-point lead, 20-17, forcing a Texas timeout.
The Longhorns ended their drought with a kill from Jenna Wenaas and block assist by Wenaas and Bella Bergmark to lead to the Cats first timeout of the set.
The Cats put the match away the match with a 3-1 closing run with Carter delivering the final blow.
FROM THE WILDCATS
Jason Mansfield, K-State Head Coach
“I think we just tried to really believe this week. It was tough after losing two close matches to Kansas and left feeling disappointed. I think that the goal and the message was just to believe from then on. We felt it on Monday’s practice as we got back at work and with Texas coming, and we needed to get ready and the last few days they’ve been really focused. There’s no reason to believe that we cannot only compete with a team like this but beat them. I’m really proud of our effort. The crowd was incredible, and the girls definitely fed off that, they were a huge, a huge part of what we did tonight.”
On accomplishing so much in his first season…
“When I took this job, I believed in the players that wanted to stay, and getting Izzi and Liz was a big deal to our culture, and certainly our play. know what good volleyball looks like, and the girls on this team can play, and it’s about the players making plays. It’s not about me. I knew that we had enough talent, if we just believed and kept getting better, we’d find a way to be a team. We’ve had lots of examples this year that not only show we can play with teams, but we could beat quality teams, and that we have players on our team that need to be recognized in the same way that these other girls on other teams have been recognized. I’m just really proud that they’re showing it over, and over, and over again. I’m not a big stats guy, but anybody getting 20 kills in three sets like Aliyah, or 20 digs in three sets like McKenzie is absolutely exceptional, against one of the best teams in the country. So if that doesn’t prove that we have great players on this team then I don’t know what does.”
Izzi Szulczewski, Junior
On staying composed with the crowd…
“I think we really learned how to feed off the crowd. I think at first, I was like, ‘whoa, we have our own people in a tiny space cheering for us.’ It was a lot, but now we’re kind of feeding, and also just really focusing on one point at a time. Even when we get a good point, it’s like ok don’t even remember that one. Like, what are we going to do for the next one?”
On previous tough games preparing them for this win…
“Yeah, I think each team kind of has their own things. I feel like Texas embodies a lot of those things from each team. You know, BYU had a really aggressive setter. Texas also has a really aggressive setter. So I think just having all those factors, and then having Texas kind of have all of them. It was a nice way to show off what we’ve been working on and show off what we’ve learned from other games.”
On the defensive performance…
“I think Mackenzie Morris her middle name is now dig, or shovel. I mean, she played amazingly. She was touching everything.”
On if she anticipated an upset like this when she transferred to K-State…
“I don’t know if I anticipated it, but I knew I was coming into a great program already and a great culture just within the girls. We all get along so well, and that just translates onto the court. I think that when we played Nebraska, we thought ‘dang, that got away from us’ even though we got beat in three straight. We were disappointed. We knew what we were capable of and know that we can actually do some damage to these teams that are ranked.”
Aliyah Carter, Senior
On staying composed with the crowd…
“We always want to strive to hear the crazy [cheers]from the crowd. I think that’s just the best feeling, so we are setting a goal to hear that every single time, every single point, every single one.”
On being a part of a program defining win…
“Feels great. I mean, I knew coming in playing for Kansas State that we were going to play hard teams, since this is the Big 12. But I think there was no possible way that the girls on this team were going to go off with another loss to Texas. We weren’t going to go out that way and we knew that this is a team that could do it. So it feels great.”
On the defensive performance…
“You could see it at the end of that third set. There was no way that the girls in the back row were going to let a ball just hit the floor without them going crazy. So I think the mindset, I mean, we just have a whole bunch of dawgs back there that are going to get anything up. So that’s the mindset going into each and every game. We pride ourselves on defense and keeping balls alive so our offense can work.”
On the difference between last year’s team and this year’s team…
“This is completely different, just from the way it feels. There’s a lot of confidence and encouragement. I think of this team as like a big circle. Without one part of that circle being there, it’s not going to work. It’s not a circle. So it’s like, from the bench, the coaches, and the people playing, to practice every day to even weights, everything’s working, and everything just feels good. So I don’t really like to speak about the past, but I think that this is showing it all, what’s going on right now.”
INSIDE THE BOX
- Wildcats swept past Texas, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21
- K-State hit .351 with 45 kills (11 errors)
- The match had 19 tie scores with 10 lead changes.
- Carter turned in 20 kills (.311).
- Clinton added seven kills with a .333 efficiency followed by Schmidt and Szulczewski with six
- Morris had a match-high 20 digs with no reception errors
- Szulczewski dished out a match-high 31 assists with six kills (.857) and six digs
- Bolding turned in a match-high three blocks
- The Cats out-dug the Longhorns, 53-35
- Four Wildcats recorded an ace.
- UT hit .246 (44 kills, 14 errors)
- Skinner led with a team-high 14 kills (.211)
- Each team registered five blocks
BEYOND THE BOX
- K-State set a new program record with five wins over ranked opponents in a single season
- K-State’s victory snapped a 39-match losing streak against Texas
- First Top 5 victory under Jason Mansfield
- Program record 12-straight set wins against ranked opponents at home; nine straight against Top 10 teams
- First sweep over Texas since 2000
- Program’s first Top 5 win at home in school history; third overall (previous wins were both against Nebraska)
- Since 2011, K-State is just the seventh unranked team to defeat Texas on the road
- Fourth straight victory over ranked opponent at home this season
- K-State is just the second team to sweep UT this season, joining then-No. 2 Stanford
- Wildcats handed the Longhorns their first Big 12 loss of the season
- The Cats won their first match versus the Longhorns since Oct. 15, 2003 (3-2)
- Carter turned in her 17th match with 20 or more kills
- Carter’s 20 kills ties fifth for total kills in three-set match in school history
- First time a player had a 20-kill three-set match since 2021 with Carter’s 23 kills against Wayne State.
- Szulczewski produced her seventh match with 30 or more assists
- Morris earned her 28th 20-dig match
- K-State is 11-3 in three-set matches; 12-1 when winning the first set
- Cats are 5-4 against ranked teams; 3-1 against Top 10 foes
- Texas leads the all-time series 49-8
K-State closes out the home slate at Morgan Family Arena for a two-match series with Texas Tech, starting November 17 at 6:30 p.m. while the final home match of the regular season is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Friday’s match will feature Senior Night where the Wildcats will honor seniors Sydney Bolding, Aliyah Carter, Kadye Fernholz, Loren Hinkle and Mackenzie Morris. Both can be seen on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ and the ESPN app.