No. 19 Kansas State drops heartbreaker to No. 5 Hawaii, 3-2
August 31, 2001
Honolulu, Hawaii - The 19th-ranked Kansas State women's volleyball team was unable to capitalize on a number of opportunities, including a 2-0 games lead, as the Wildcats fell to host and fifth-ranked Hawaii, 30-19, 30-26, 24-30, 25-30, 8-15, in the opening round of the 14th annual Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic held before 6,723 fans at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The match not only marked the opening of the Suzie Fritz era at Kansas State, who was named the interim head coach on Aug. 1, but also the advent of rally scoring in the collegiate game which was adopted in the offseason.
With the win, Hawaii earns its first victory of the season to move to 1-2. Kansas State, which fell to 0-1, drops to 19-9 all-time in season openers. Despite the outcome, the Wildcats controlled most of the stats, compiling more kills (69-66) and a higher hitting percentage (.253 to .214), but was out-dug (70-60) and out-blocked (18-10) by the Rainbow Wahine. K-State also totaled 22 service errors to Hawaii's seven.
Tonight's match also marked the first time K-State had lost after winning the first two games since November 3, 1999 when the Wildcats fell to 24th-ranked Colorado at Ahearn Field House.
"Obviously, this is a very disappointing loss because we had every opportunity to win it," head coach Suzie Fritz said. "I thought our team did a good job of holding the emotion early on in the match. This is a tough place to play. Hawaii has great fans. We did a good job of staying on their tendencies and forcing them into errors early on. However, Hawaii really started to play well in game three and just took over. We didn't make a lot of hitting errors. We really made them come back and earn it. That's one thing that I like about this team. We didn't make it easy."
In the opening set, the two teams went through five ties and four lead changes before Kansas State took the lead for good at 7-6. After Hawaii closed within 11-9, the Wildcats rattled off three straight points to push the lead to 14-9 where it eventually went to 21-14 before the Rainbow Wahine were forced to take their first timeout. K-State then grabbed four quick points to extend the lead to 25-15 before pushing the lead to a game-best 11 points at 27-16 and 28-17. The Wildcats won on their second game point, 30-19, on a service error by Hawaii. Kansas State did not record a hitting error in the opening game, compiling an impressive .455 hitting percentage in the victory. Junior Jenny Pollard recorded a team-best six kills on .500 hitting in the game, while sophomore Lauren Goehring posted six digs.
Hawaii looked to take charge in the second game, rolling off to a 4-0 lead on three straight blocks. Kansas State kept the game close early, maintaining a two-point lead on seven occasions, before rattling off five consecutive points to take an 18-16 advantage. The Wildcats would extend the lead to 21-17 before holding off two late Rainbow Wahine rallies to win on its first game point, 30-26. Pollard and senior Liz Wegner each tallied five kills in the second game, while Wegner added six digs.
After the intermission, Hawaii seemed to regroup in game three, as the Rainbow Wahine broke open a tight game, leading 5-3, with four straight points en route to a 30-24 victory. The Wildcats trailed by as many as 10 points in the game, but did force the Wahine through six game points before succumbing to defeat.
The two teams went back and forth in game four with seven ties and seven lead changes before Hawaii took the lead with three straight points at 9-all. K-State continued to fight, including closing to two at 21-19, but it not enough as the Rainbow Wahine forced a decisive game five with a 30-25 victory.
With the momentum and the crowd clearly on the side of Hawaii, the team ran off nine straight points after a 1-all tie en route to a 15-8 win. Kansas State closed within five points at 11-6, but was unable to overcome the huge deficit.
Senior Liz Wegner and junior Jenny Pollard led three Wildcats with double-doubles in the match, as each tallied 19 kills and 12 digs on the night. Senior Lisa Mimick recorded 16 kills and 10 digs in the loss, while freshman Lauren Goehring added a career-high 13 digs and team-high six blocks. In her first career start at setter, sophomore Laura Downey turned in a near double-double with 59 assists and eight digs, while adding three kills and two blocks.
Sophomore Kim Willoughby led Hawaii across the board, as she paced the team with 24 kills, 14 digs and six blocks. Tanja Nikolic recorded 17 kills and seven digs in the winning effort for the Rainbow Wahine, while Lauren Duggins added 12 digs, eight blocks and six kills.
Kansas State continues play at the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic on Saturday, as the Wildcats play No. 7 UCLA beginning at 5 p.m. HST at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Bruins (1-0) earned their first win of the season earlier in the day at the tournament when they swept Michigan in three games.