K-State Volleyball Set For Arkansas Invitational, Missouri State Matchup

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

The Week
Friday, September 20: at Arkansas, 7 pm CT
Saturday, September 21: vs. Saint Louis, 1 pm CT & vs. South Alabama, 4:30 pm CT
Sunday, September 22: at Missouri State, 1 pm CT

Setting the Scene
After a 3-1 week, which culminated with a 3-2 comeback win over then-#23 and previously unbeaten Cal, K-State volleyball will compete in the Arkansas Invitational (September 20-21) followed up by a match against Missouri State (September 22) this weekend. The stretch of four matches in less than 48 hours wraps up the Wildcats’ nonconference regular season schedule. K-State faces the Italian U-23 National Team in an exhibition on Tuesday, September 24 in Ahearn Field House before its Big 12 season opener at West Virginia on September 27.

All of this weekend’s matches can be heard live on k-statesports.com, with Rob Voelker on the call. The September 21 match against Saint Louis and the September 22 contest against Missouri State can also be heard live on KMAN 1350. The Missouri State match is also available to watch live on K-StateHD.TV via Missouri State (note: this will be a one-camera setup with no audio).

Brand New Award
Redshirt freshman setter Katie Brand was named Big 12 Rookie of the Week for the week of September 9. The native of Grand Island, Neb. was first among Big 12 freshman and fourth overall in the conference with 9.88 assists per set last week. She was also the only Big 12 freshman to average nine or more assists and two or more digs per set. Brand recorded three double-doubles over the course of last week’s four matches, giving her a team-best six double-doubles this season. For the week, Brand had 12 kills (0.75 kps), 158 assists (9.88 aps), 47 digs (2.94 dps), 10 blocks (0.63 bps) and 4 aces (0.25 aces per set).

Brand becomes the third player in program history to earn the Big 12 Rookie of the Week award, with last being current senior Kaitlynn Pelger (Nov. 29, 2010). It is also the 27th time a Wildcat has earned a player of the week award from the Big 12 under head coach Suzie Fritz (since 2001).

Katie Brand not only leads K-State with six double-doubles this season, but she is also tied with Jordan Anderson of West Virginia for the conference-lead in the category. Brand had three double-doubles last week: 38 assists, 13 digs against Tulsa; 49 assists and 14 digs versus Cal Poly; and 50 assists and 13 digs at #23 Cal.

Kaitlynn Pelger is second on the Wildcats with five double-doubles, including one in each of her last two matches. Pelger had 16 kills and 15 digs at #23 Cal and 14 kills and 17 digs against Cal Poly. The Olathe, Kan. native has 29 double-doubles in her career.

Lilla Porubek became the third K-State player to register a double-double this season when she tallied 16 kills and 18 digs against Cal Poly on Sept. 13. It was Porubek’s second career double-double and first since November 9, 2011 vs. #25 Oklahoma (23 kills, 14 digs).

Closing In On 250
Head coach Suzie Fritz enters this weekend with 247 career wins, the most by a K-State coach in program history. In her 13th season, Fritz has a career record of 247-137 (.643), including a 113-39 (.743) in nonconference games.

Ranked Opponents
K-State claimed a 3-2 win over #23 Cal on Sept. 14, its third consecutive win over a ranked nonconference opponent. It was the first victory for K-State over a ranked opponent on the road since Dec. 2, 2011 against #2 Nebraska (second round of NCAA Tournament).

Fab Five
The Wildcats’ 3-2 win over #23 Cal improved their record to 4-0 in five set matches this season. K-State is 18-1 in their last 19 five-set matches, dating back to September 28, 2010 (vs. University of Missouri-Kansas City). This season’s four five-set matches are the most in a season for K-State since 2011 when it played in a program-record nine five-set matches. The Wildcats also played in nine five-set matches in 1986.

Building Blocks
K-State had eight or more team blocks in each of last week’s four matches, including 16.0 blocks at #23 Cal. K-State has eight or more team blocks in eight of its 10 matches so far this season. The Wildcats enter this week fifth in the Big 12 and 43rd in the country with 2.58 blocks per set (103 blocks, 40 sets).

The Wildcats have recorded 16.0 or more team blocks in three matches this season, the most in a single season since 2007. K-State had five matches during the 2007 season in which they recorded 16.0+ team blocks.

Taylor Johnson (1.12 bps) leads the team and is ninth in the Big 12 in blocks. Natali Jones, although she does not have enough sets to qualify for Big 12 leaders, is averaging 1.38 blocks per set.

Moving On Up
Kaitlynn Pelger has moved into the top-five in one career category and knocking on the door of another. With 19.0 points at #23 Cal, Pelger slid into fifth place on K-State’s all-time career points list with 1,603.0, passing Shawnee Call (1,592.0 from 1985-88). Next up for Pelger on the career points list is Yolanda Young (1993-96) and her 1,642.5 career points.

In career kills, Pelger increased her total to 1,298 after recording 48 kills over last week’s four matches. Pelger, who is currently sixth on the all-time career kills list, is looking to surpass Call and her 1,337 kills for fifth place. Pelger is averaging 2.72 kills per set this season. Pelger has the most career kills among active Big 12 players.

Keep Digging
Tristan McCarty has double-digit digs in each of her last four matches, giving her a team-best 130 digs this season. The senior from Manhattan is fifth in the Big 12 with 3.51 digs per set. She is also sixth among active Big 12 players with 775 career digs.

Kaufman’s Kills
Dakota Kaufman has recorded double-digit kills in each of her last two matches. Kaufman has four matches this season with 10 or more kills, which equal her career-high for double-digit kill matches in a season last set during her freshman campaign in 2010. Kaufman’s 79 kills this season over 36 sets are her most in a single campaign also since 2010 when she had 155 kills.

Tourney Time
K-State will wrap up its 2013 regular season tournament schedule this weekend with the Arkansas Invitational. The Wildcats are 8-1 in tournaments so far this season. The loss to Santa Clara to open up the Hilton Garden Inn Invitational at Cal snapped a 24-match winning streak in tournaments. Since 2011, K-State is 29-4 in regular season tournament matches.

Trophy Cabinet
Kaitlynn Pelger garnered her second tournament MVP award this season when she was named the Hilton Garden Inn Invitational at Cal MVP last weekend. She was named the UNLV Invitational MVP to open the season. Pelger has been honored with six tournament MVP awards in her career, including one in four of the last five tournaments. She has also either been named to an all-tournament team or earned the MVP award in the last 10 tournaments K-State has competed in since 2011.

AVCA Approved
After last week’s three wins in four matches, K-State continued to receive votes in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll. K-State has received votes in each poll this season. The Wildcats garnered 40 points in the September 16 poll, up from last week’s 31 points and the most they have received all season. Other K-State opponents who appeared in this week’s poll were Texas (#6), Iowa State (#25), Oklahoma (RV) and California (RV). California was ranked #23 in last week’s poll before K-State handed the Golden Bears their first loss of the season.

Upcoming Opponents

The 6-3 Arkansas Razorbacks are led by Meredith Hays and her 4.38 kills per set. The junior earned MVP honors at last weekend’s Golden Hurricane Classic in Tulsa. Hays had 21 kills against Tulsa to open the tournament. Arkansas uses a 6-2 offense as Raymariely Santos (6.24 assists per set) and Ashley Vazquez (5.44 assists per set) split the setter duties. Arkansas is holding opponents to a .196 hitting percentage and averages 2.62 blocks per set.

The Razorbacks are coached by Robert Pulliza, who is in his sixth season at the helm of Arkansas. Last season, Pulliza led the Razorbacks to their first 20-win season and first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005 and 2006, respectively. The native of Puerto Rico was an assistant coach with Wisconsin from 1999-2001, helping the Badgers reach the NCAA Final Four in 2000.

K-State leads the all-time series against Arkansas, 5-1. The Wildcats won the last meeting 3-0 on September 7, 2007 in Manhattan. K-State beat Arkansas 3-2 in the last match at Arkansas on September 2, 2005. The only loss for K-State in the series was on September 17, 1998.

Saint Louis
The Billikens of Saint Louis enter the Arkansas Invitational with a 4-7 record, with five losses in their last six matches. Megan Gilbert was named the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts during last week’s five matches in which she tallied 28 total blocks (1.4 per set). The Saint Louis offense is powered by Mallory Dillon (4.26 kills per set) and Danielle Rygelski (3.92 kills per set). Dillon and Rygelski also average 2.85 and 2.31 digs per set, respectively.

Kent Miller serves as the head coach of Saint Louis. The former Illinois assistant coach is in his third season at the helm of Saint Louis, compiling a 25-33 record over her first two seasons. During his two seasons with Illinois, Miller helped the Fighting Illini reach two consecutive Sweet 16s. Miller served as the head coach at Toledo for 12 seasons prior to working at Illinois.

K-State leads the all-time series, 6-0. The Wildcats won the last meeting 3-0 on August 27, 2005. The Wildcats have not lost a set against Saint Louis in the previous six meetings.

South Alabama
South Alabama enters the week with a 4-5 record and will face Jackson State on September 17 before starting the Arkansas Invitational. Mechell Daniel was named the Sun Belt Freshman of the Week on Monday after she tallied 54 kills (5.4 kills per set), 33 digs and six aces in the Jaguars’ three matches last week. For the season, Daniel leads active players with 3.06 kills per set. Abby Baker leads the team with 3.27 digs per set while Symone Stephenson is pacing the squad with 0.82 blocks per set.

Amy Hendrichovsky is in her second season as the head coach of South Alabama. In her first season, Hendrichovsky led the Jaguars to 13 wins, the most victories in a single season for the program since 1995. Prior to taking the helm of South Alabama, Hendrichovsky was an assistant coach at Middle Tennessee State.

This is the first meeting between the two programs.

Missouri State
The Bears of Missouri State are 8-3 entering this week after going 2-1 in their own Dr. Mary Jo Wynn/University Plaza Invitational last weekend. Missouri State was swept by the Big 12’s Oklahoma to end the tournament. As one of its top wins this season, Missouri State beat then-#22 Dayton, 3-1, on August 31. Before the match against K-State, the Bears will face Wichita State at Wichita on September 19.

Four Missouri State players enter the week averaging more than two kills per set, led by Olivia Brand (2.46). The Bears have a .219 hitting percentage this season as their opponents are hitting at a .190 clip.

Melissa Stokes is in her 18th season as the head coach of Missouri State, entering this season with a 373-179 record. Stokes has taken the Bears to seven NCAA Tournaments, all in the last 10 years. A 1991 graduate of San Diego University, Stokes came to Missouri State after four years as an assistant at the University of Idaho.

K-State trails 13-7 in the all-time series against Missouri State, but the Wildcats have won five straight matches in the series. The Wildcats won the last meeting 3-0 on September 5, 2012 in Manhattan. The two programs have faced each other in each season since 2011. K-State beat Missouri State 3-2 the last time the two programs met in Springfield, MO on September 8, 2011. All 13 Missouri State wins in the series have occurred before 1991.

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