K-State Heads To Iowa State For Big 12 Road Match

By: KSU, posted by Kinch O'Kelley
By: KSU, posted by Kinch O'Kelley

First Serve
K-State will head to Ames, Iowa to take on Big 12 counterpart Iowa State on Wednesday, October 9 at 6:30 pm. The Wildcats enter with a 13-3 overall record and 1-2 mark in the Big 12 while the Cyclones are 8-5 overall and 2-1 in conference. The match can be heard on KMAN 1350 or on k-statesports.com, with Rob Voelker calling the action. Pre-game show will start at 6 pm CT. The match can also be streamed on Cyclones.tv (subscription required). Live stats will be available on k-statesports.com and updates will be provided on Twitter by @kstate_gameday.

The Wildcats are coming off a five-set victory over TCU in Manhattan on Saturday, Oct. 5. K-State was six points away from losing in four, but it rallied from a 19-15 deficit in the fourth set to win 25-21 and eventually captured the match with a 15-7 victory in the fifth. The Wildcats’ leading source of offense, Kaitlynn Pelger, had a season-high 23 kills along with 11 digs for her eighth double-double of the year. Also, Taylor Johnson and Courtney Traxson set new career-highs in kills with 18 and 15, respectively. Overall, K-State had 70 kills to TCU’s 53.

On Block Down
The Wildcats remain one of the top teams in the country in blocks per set after averaging 2.56 blocks over last week’s two matches. K-State is second in the Big 12 and 17th in NCAA Division I with an average of 2.76 blocks. The Wildcats have nine or more team blocks in nine straight matches. Junior Taylor Johnson leads the Wildcats with 1.31 blocks per set – the fourth-best average in the Big 12 and 32nd-best in NCAA Division I.

Fighting For Five
With Saturday’s win over TCU, the Wildcats improve to 5-0 in five-set matches this season and have claimed victory in 20 of their last 21 five-set matches dating back to 2010. Saturday’s match against TCU was the first five-set contest at home for the Wildcats this season and first since October 20, 2012 vs. Texas Tech. Earlier this year, K-State has two neutral five-set wins (Portland, Cal State Fullerton) and two on the road (UNLV, Cal). This season’s five five-set matches are the most since 2011 when the Wildcats played in nine five-set matches (8-1), which is tied for the school record.

Turn It Up In The Fifth
The Wildcats had eight kills on 18 errorless attempts in Saturday’s fifth set, giving them a .444 hitting percentage in the decisive game. K-State, meanwhile, held TCU to a .000 hitting percentage (6k-6e-21att) in the fifth set. This season, the Wildcats are hitting .259 in the fifth set (43k-13e-116att) – including a .457 hitting percentage in the final set of their last two five-set matches – while their opponents are registering a .061 hitting percentage (31k-24e-114att). Overall, the Wildcats have a .199 hitting percentage this season.

New Season High
K-State had 70 kills against TCU on Saturday, its most kills in a single-match since Aug. 25, 2012 against Oregon State when the Wildcats recorded 76 kills in a five-set win over the Beavers in Manhattan. Saturday’s 70 kills for the Wildcats were also their most in a Big 12 match since September 28, 2011 at Missouri when K-State had 78 kills in a five-set win over the Tigers in Columbia. K-State is averaging 12.67 kills in Big 12 matches this season.

Getting Offensive
Senior Kaitlynn Pelger posted 23 kills on Saturday, the most in a match by a Wildcat this season. The 23 kills were the most for Pelger since Sept. 29 at Baylor when she also had 23 kills. In three Big 12 matches this season, Pelger is averaging 3.67 kills per set, which is the fourth-best average in the conference. Her 44 kills in Big 12 matches are the third-most in the conference, trailing Mackenzie Bigbee of Iowa State (46) and Sara McClinton of Kansas (45). Pelger is averaging 2.92 kills per set over the entire season (181 kills, 62 sets).

Moving Up The Charts
With the addition of Saturday’s 23 kills, Kaitlynn Pelger is continuing her ascent up K-State’s career kills list. Entering the match against Iowa State, the Olathe, Kan. native has 1,370 career kills, which are the fifth-most in program history. She is 24 kills away from tying Yolanda Young (1,394 from 1993-96) for fourth on the career kills list. Pelger is the Big 12’s active career leader in kills.

20 And Up
Kaitlynn Pelger’s 20-kill match last Saturday was her 15th career 20-kill match, which are the fifth-most in program history. It was Pelger’s first 20-kill match of the season after recording a pair in 2012, 11 during her sophomore year in 2011 and one in 2010. Pelger is one 20-kill match away from tying Kim Zschau (16 from 1995-98) for fourth-most in K-State history.

Up The Middle
Taylor Johnson had a career-high 18 kills on Saturday, besting her previous mark of 13 set in this season’s opening match against Portland. After not having any 10-kill matches in her first two seasons of her career, Johnson has cracked double-digits in kills five times this season. Johnson’s match-high .441 hitting percentage on Saturday was second-best this season and highest by a Wildcat in a Big 12 match since Kaitlynn Pelger had a .500 hitting percentage (15k-1e-28att) against TCU on Nov. 10, 2012 in Manhattan.

Johnson, who has crossed the 100-kill mark this season for the first time in her career, is second on K-State with an average of 2.75 kills in Big 12 matches. Her .306 hitting percentage in Big 12 matches is the best among Wildcats.

Heating Up
Courtney Traxson also set a career-high in kills on Saturday when she had 15 on 47 attempts. The senior outside hitter has double-digit kills in each of her last two matches, which is the first time she has had 10 or more kills in consecutive matches since Nov. 5 and 9, 2011 against Texas A&M (13) and #25 Oklahoma (12). Traxson has never recorded three straight matches of double-digit kills in her career. Over her last two matches, Traxson is averaging 3.13 kills (25 kills, 8 sets), raising her season average to 2.18 kills per set.

With The Assist
Redshirt freshman Katie Brand had a career-high 59 assists on Saturday, beating out her previous best of 50 set twice this season. The 59 assists were the most by a player in a Big 12 match this season and tied for third-most by a Big 12 player in all matches. After averaging 11.25 assists per set (90 assists, 8 sets) last week, Brand has the third-best assists per set average (10.42) in Big 12 matches. The 59 assists were the most by a Wildcat in a Big 12 match since Caitlyn Donahue had 67 assists at Missouri on Sept. 28, 2011.

Double Double
Katie Brand and Kaitlynn Pelger each posted a double-double on Saturday. It was Brand’s seventh double-double while it was Pelger’s team-best eighth. Brand had 15 digs – matching her career-high – to go along with her 59 assists against TCU while Pelger had 11 digs to pair with her 23 kills. Brand and Pelger have combined for 15 of the 16 double-doubles registered by K-State this season. Saturday was also the sixth time this season Brand and Pelger have posted a double-double in the same match.

Nice Digs
Freshman Kersten Kober had 10 digs on Saturday, making her one of five Wildcats with double-digit digs in the match. The 10 digs were Kober’s most in a single match since she had 11 at UNLV on August 31. Kober is averaging 2.0 digs per set this season, which are tied with Jordan Lee of West Virginia for the fifth-most by a Big 12 freshman this season. Kober is averaging 2.17 digs per set in Big 12 matches.

RPI Rankings
The first RPI rankings were released by the NCAA on October 7 and K-State debuted at No. 29. The NCAA selection committee uses RPI as a major factor in determining at-large bids and seeding for the NCAA Tournament. Four K-State opponents are ranked higher than No. 29: Texas (No. 1), Kansas (No. 14), Arkansas (No. 16) and Oklahoma (No. 19).

AVCA Approved
The Wildcats received votes once again in this week’s AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll. K-State went 1-1 last week and had its point total drop to five in the poll, the lowest all season. The Wildcats have received votes in each of the seven AVCA polls this season, peaking at 78 points in the September 23 poll. Five of K-State’s opponents this season received votes in this week’s poll, with Texas (No. 3) being the only team ranked. Iowa State dropped out of the rankings from No. 25 last week, but it received 16 points this week. Oklahoma, K-State’s opponent on Saturday, is just outside the Top 25 with 79 points.

The Opponent: Iowa State
Led by head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch, the Cyclones enter Wednesday’s match with an 8-5 record and 2-1 mark in the Big 12. Iowa State suffered its first and only loss of the Big 12 season in its last outing on Oct. 5 at Oklahoma (3-2). The Cyclones lead the Big 12 in aces per set with 1.66 while they are second in kills per set with 14.04. Sophomore Mackenzie Bigbee leads Iowa State in kills per set (3.48) and senior libero Kristen Hahn is pacing all of the Big 12 with 5.70 digs per set.

Iowa State leads the all-time series against K-State 45-37, with the Cyclones winning nine of the last 10 matches. The Wildcats split the season series with the Cyclones in 2012 as K-State swept Iowa State in Manhattan on Oct. 3 but lost in Ames (3-1) on Nov. 14.

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