KAZAN, Russia – Following a sweep against Poland on Monday in the first match of the World University Games for Team USA, the team responded with a strong performance at the net defensively and almost took down the Czech Republic in the second set on Tuesday. Despite the 3-0 loss, the Kansas State volleyball team performed well for the American contingency and saw improvement from the opening match.
Team USA fell 14-25, 25-27, 14-25 but posted an impressive 10 blocks against a strong Czech Republic team for the match, with five coming in the dramatic second set alone.
Trailing 11-9 in the second set, Team USA would grab the momentum with a series of plays from Kaitlynn Pelger and Dakota Kaufman.
Kaufman tallied back-to-back kills to tie the set followed by a block from Pelger. Kaufman responded with two more blocks as the two seniors gave Team USA a 14-11 advantage at the midway point in the set. Another run of four straight points by USA with Courtney Traxson and Taylor Johnson adding to the mix to make is 21-16.
The Czech Republic would answer, however, chipping away at the lead with kills of its own to go with a series of service and attack errors by USA.
Facing set point, USA got back-to-back points with a kill from Chelsea Keating and an error by Czech Republic to turn the tables and give the Americans set point. But he Czech Republic would rally and score three straight points to win the set 27-25.
“We were very good controlling the net tonight and created some tremendous momentum opportunities with our blocking,” said head coach Suzie Fritz. “Our goal is to use these opportunities against teams that are more experienced than we are and to learn from them. We are getting better as we go.”
Kaufman led USA with seven kills to go with her two blocks. Johnson had a total of six kills and three blocks. Keating also had six kills.
Team USA had a strong cheering section for the match against the Czech Republic on Tuesday as the American men’s team at the World University Games, Springfield College, came to support the Wildcats as they played their second match as Team USA at the Games. It was an off day for the men as they started pool play earlier and begin the next stage of competition soon.
The final match of pool play for Team USA is set for 11 a.m. Central on Wednesday against host nation Russia.