Wildcats Swept on the Road by Iowa State
AMES, Iowa – The K-State volleyball team kept it close in the opening set but in the end it was swept (26-24, 25-19, 25-18) by Iowa State on Wednesday in the Hilton Coliseum.
Senior Courtney Traxson led K-State (13-4, 1-3 Big 12) with eight kills while redshirt freshman Katie Brand registered her eight double-double of the season with 25 assists and 11 digs. The eight double-doubles for Brand are tied for the most by a Wildcat this season.
Brand also had a team-best four blocks as the Wildcats tallied nine team blocks altogether, extending K-State’s stretch of matches with nine or more blocks to 10 straight. Taylor Johnson, Natali Jones and Chelsea Keating each had three blocks.
The Cyclones (9-5, 3-1 Big 12) had advantages over the Wildcats in kills (47 for Iowa State, 30 for K-State), hitting percentage (.211 to .091) and digs (64 to 53).
“We struggled with our passing as we went along,” said head coach Suzie Fritz, “so our offensive rhythm was breaking down because we were not in system enough and throwing out a lot of high balls. High balls are difficult swings to take and easy swings to defend.”
The Wildcats battled to keep it within striking distance in the first set as Iowa State only led by as much as four points in the early parts of the game. Down 18-15, the Wildcats tied it up for the first time behind four errors by Iowa State and a Johnson kill. The 5-2 run forced the Cyclones to use their first timeout, after which they restored their advantage to 22-20.
The Iowa State lead was quickly erased with three straight points for K-State, capped by a block from Brand and Keating that gave the Wildcats their first lead of the set, 23-22. K-State forced the set into extra points when Dakota Kaufman’s kill made it 24-24, but a kill from Tory Knuth of Iowa State and attack error by Johnson gave the set to Iowa State.
K-State started the second set with a 2-0 lead, but the Cyclones used a 9-2 run, fueled by three kills from Mackenzie Bigbee and two from Ciara Capezio, to make it 9-4 Iowa State. The Wildcats did not relent, though, as they rallied with a 5-1 burst, highlighted by a dump kill from Brand as well as a kill and ace from Natali Jones and Kersten Kober, respectively.
Another 9-2 run for Iowa State gave the Cylcones their largest lead of the second set, 19-11. An Iowa State service error interrupted the spurt for the Cyclones, but K-State fell behind by nine points once again, 21-12.
Johnson and Jones combined for a block that ignited K-State as it rattled off five straight points to pull within five, 21-16. Courtney Cook, making her first appearance of the match in the second set, was on the service line for the 5-0 run and kept the Cyclones out of system with effective serving. Cook evened contributed an ace. It was the senior’s first ace of the season and second of her career.
Traxson’s sixth kill of the match down the line from the right side made it 22-18 Iowa State, but the Wildcats could not counter a Cyclones attack that closed out the set with a kill, an ace and another kill to clinch the game.
After falling behind 6-0 to start the third set, the Wildcats closed the gap to within three on three different occasions. A kill from Jones sparked a brief 4-1 run for the Wildcats that made it 8-5, but Iowa State pulled away by scoring five out of the next six points and giving it a 13-6 advantage.
The Wildcats sided out trailing 19-12, which closed the gap to six points but more importantly started a 5-1 run for K-State. Pelger and Kaufman each had a kill in the burst, with Kaufman’s kill making it 20-17 Iowa State. The Cyclones closed out the set behind three kills from Morghan Kuhrt.
The defeat drops K-State’s record to 4-2 on the road this season and extends its losing streak to six matches in Ames.
“I think it is just another place to play, but I’m not the one that matters,” said Fritz about playing in Hilton Coliseum. “I can’t remember the last time that we played really well [at Iowa State]. Right now, though, we’re just focused on playing well anywhere. We have two difficult road matches this week, and we have to be significantly better. It’s not for a lack of trying, I can tell you that.”
The Wildcats look to return to the win column on Saturday, October 12 in their second Big 12 match on the road this week. K-State will face Oklahoma in a 7 pm match. The Sooners were swept by Kansas on Wednesday in Lawrence.