The K-State volleyball team recorded its most digs in a three-set match since 2002 but was held to season lows in kills and hitting percentage by No. 23 Iowa State in a straight-set loss (12-25, 16-25, 25-27) Wednesday night at Hilton Coliseum. That’s according to a release from K-State Athletics.
The Big 12’s best defensive squad, Iowa State (12-3, 3-2 Big 12) limited K-State (9-10, 2-4 Big 12) to a .015 team hitting efficiency as the Wildcats had just 23 kills with 21 attacking errors (134 total attempts). The Wildcats extended their losing streak in Ames to 10 matches.
Four Wildcats reached double-figure digs, led by setter Sarah Dixon with a career-best 17, on their way to 74 team digs – one shy of a three-set program record. Fellow setter Brooke Smith also had a career-best effort with 16 digs to go with 11 assists for her third double-double of the season. Smith, a junior, served up two of the Cats’ three service aces in the match.
“Quite frankly, we didn’t execute very well,” said head coach Suzie Fritz. “But I thought they managed the emotions of the match and tried to stay together through some adversity. I think Iowa State is a really good volleyball team. To win in Ames, you’ve got to execute and play really well and we didn’t do that. The worklist for us remains pretty long. We are going to keep coaching them like crazy and try to help them get where they want to get.”
Offensively, freshman Brynn Carlson led the Wildcat offense with six kills while middle blocker Macy Flowers came off the bench to record five kills in the third set. Sophomore Elle Sandbothe was the team’s efficiency leader with four kills without an error on 12 swings (.333).
“We played really well in the third,” added Fritz. “We settled in a little bit better, gave ourselves some chances and competed harder. We had some people come into the match late, I thought Macy Flowers came in and played well. I thought Zsofia Gyimes upgraded us defensively.”
The Cyclones raced out to an early 8-1 lead cruised to a 25-12 opening-set win. K-State managed to string together multiple points just once, scoring four straight but when Iowa State held a 23-7 advantage. ISU had a 20-5 edge in total kills, holding K-State to a .025 (4e-40ta) hitting percentage. Bryna Vogel was the lone Wildcat to register multiple kills (2) in the game.
Set 2 saw a similar fate for the Cats, as Iowa State led 9-3 before K-State found some footing and cut its deficit to just three at 11-8. ISU used an immediate 8-3 spurt to push its lead to 19-11 and the Wildcats fought off three set points before falling 25-16. The Cyclones used 6.5 team blocks in the second set to force K-State into 11 errors against five kills (-140). Carlson and Kylee Zumach each picked up a pair of kills in Set 2.
K-State attempted to flip the script in the third, as it scored five of the first six points to open the game. Iowa State used a 4-0 stretch to take its first lead at 12-11 midway through and the sides would exchange blows all the way to a 25-25 score before ISU closed the match. Flowers had all five of her kills in Set 3 to pace the Wildcat offense, which hit .137 (13k-6e-51ta). In total, the set held six tied scores and five lead changes.
ISU’s Samara West recorded a match-best 13 kills and five blocks. Sophomore libero Hali Hillegas, a three-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, registered a match-high 22 digs.
K-State returns to Ahearn Field House as it will host No. 25 Baylor (15-4, 5-1 Big 12) on Saturday, October 14 at 7 p.m. Tickets to the match, which will stream live on ESPN3 and the ESPN app, are available for $1 for the annual Pack the Field House match. Fans can listen to Rob Voelker call the action live KMAN 1350 AM, 93.3 FM