MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State got back on the winning track Saturday afternoon with a 3-0 victory at home over the TCU Horned Frogs. The Wildcats bested TCU 25-17, 25-16, 26-24 to sweep the season series with the Horned Frogs in a match that saw No. 17 K-State bounce back with a balanced attack.
Junior middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger pounded out 15 kills and hit .500 on the match as she took control of the match in quick spurts, including a stretch late in the third set. No other Wildcats reached double digits in kills, but senior Alex Muff kept her hot hand hitting .429 and just missing double digits with nine kills. Junior outside hitters Lilla Porubek and Courtney Traxson each added seven kills and senior Kathleen Ludwig had six without any errors.
K-State (21-5, 8-5) had to battle back late in the third set trailing 22-24, even after being awarded a penalty point for a TCU red card earlier in the set. The Wildcats fought off two set points for the Horned Frogs with back-to-back kills from Muff to tie it at 24-24.
After a timeout from TCU (14-11, 3-9), Porubek stepped back to the service line again and tallied an ace against TCU’s libero Meghan Horio to take K-State’s first lead since it was 20-19. After the ace, middle blocker Emily Kirby could not get an attack across the net after a difficult set, ending the match.
“Lilla Porubek’s ace was huge,” Fritz said. “That is not generally how you expect that to go. It was certainly a critical point, and that serve had some stuff on it. For her to go back and have the confidence to do that, I think really says a lot.”
Porubek said she was able to handle the pressure of serving with the set tied at 24-24 because of how she approached the serve and was pleased with the result and how it helped grab the momentum at the end of the match.
“I do not look at the score. I mean, I knew it was 24-24, but the score is not what is important,” Porubek said. “I think you have to have the serve, and that will then help the score. I was really happy about it and I was not over thinking it. I just took it easy and went for it.”
After losing the last three sets to No. 23 Kansas on Wednesday in extra points, the Wildcats put effort into practicing tight situations this week leading up to the TCU match. That practice helped the Wildcats know how to handle the dramatic stretch against TCU late, and Pelger said all that practice definitely paid off.
“We actually did a drill this week that pertained to a 24-24 set, and I think that helped us out,” Pelger said. “We were super excited about it because that is what we were working on. I mean, we do not want it that close, but it went our way and was really nice. I think going into that third set, our energy was kind of down, and we picked up our energy. Once we get into those crunch time situations, we click and our chemistry works really well.”
K-State dominated much of the first set before TCU made a late push, but it was too little too late. The Wildcats hit .289 to open the match with Pelger jumping on the Horned Frogs quickly as she tallied 5 kills on eight swings.
Defense was lacking on both sides in the second set as both offenses shined. K-State hit .452 in the set with just one error and TCU was hitting at a .387 clip but fell 16-25 as the Horned Frogs had four service errors in the set alone to help give the Wildcats the win.
The Wildcats will be on the road for both matches next week as they travel to take on the No. 20 Iowa State Cyclones on Wednesday. The match is scheduled for 5 p.m. and will be aired on ESPNU. K-State then will face Texas Tech on Saturday.