Sept. 15, 2011
MORAGA, Calif. – After a sluggish start against Saramento State, the Kansas State volleyball team rediscovered its offense, and it got better with each set. The Wildcats got the win 17-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-11 to claim their fifth straight victory and open the Saint Mary’s Tournament off on the right foot.
K-State (9-3) played arguably its best set of the season to close the match against Sacramento State (5-6) hitting a strong .550 as the team was on pace to break into the top five hitting percentages in school history for a single set before a lone error late.
The Wildcats rolled in the fourth thanks to strong serving as the team tallied four aces in the set alone. Libero Kuulei Kabalis led the way with that strong serve as she guided the Wildcats to six straight points with her serve. She also led the team with 16 digs to sure up the defense. The Wildcat block was on display again with 11 blocks in the win. During the dominant fourth set, Sacramento State scored back-to-back points only once.
Sophomore middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger continued putting up her impressive numbers of the season with 22 kills to tally her sixth 20-kill match of the season thus far. Pelger was just short of another double-double as she added nine digs to the defensive effort for the Wildcats.
Pelger was not alone on offense to put away the Hornets as sophomore outside hitter pounded out 11 kills to give her 11 matches in double digits. Sophomore Dakota Kaufman had one of her best matches of the season notching nine kills on 24 swings and hitting .292. Kathleen Ludwig added eight kills and played sparingly in the fourth set as a number of subs were brought in to also add to the winning effort.
Courtney Traxson came in off the bench to get three kills on five swings and Alex Muff had one kill on two swings. Taylor Johnson saw extensive action again Thursday night and posted five kills on nine swings and also led the team with five blocks, three of them solo stuffs. Setter Caitlyn Donahue posted another double-double for the Wildcats with 46 assists and 12 digs on the night.
Sacramento State spread its offense around with three players reaching double digits in kills led by Eryn Kirby with 17. Kayla Beal and Janelle Currey joined her with 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Libero Breanne Menees tallied 22 digs in the loss for the Hornets.
K-State could not find its rhythm in the first set falling 17-25 as the Wildcats had nine attack errors to start the match. Five of those errors were unforced as they did not go into Sacramento State’s block. K-State actually tallied more kills than the Hornets but could not get the win due to the errors. The Wildcats also allowed three aces in the opening stanza to contribute to the first-set loss.
The Wildcats bounced back in the second set jumping to an early 5-1 lead after scoring five straight points. The Hornets would battle back but failed to string consecutive points together late in the set when the Wildcats went on a 3-0 run to go up 21-18. K-State turned its luck around with errors hitting .282 in the second set compared to just .064 in the first.
It was another strong showing by the offense in the third set with the Wildcats going on multiple runs early in the set to take a 15-10 lead. Lilla Porubek found her groove in the set with five kills after totaling just three through the first two. K-State improved its hitting percentage again in the third hitting .385 with just two errors. The Hornets fought back to make it a fight for the third-set win for K-State as Sacramento State hit .333 in the set but could not produce enough offense to overcome the barrage from the Wildcats.
K-State will be back in action at 7 p.m. CST on Friday when the Wildcats will take on the Utah Valley Wolverines from McKeon Pavilion. The match will be tape delayed on 1350 KMAN but can be heard live online at kstatesports.com.