MANHATTAN, Kan. The Wildcats hit the road to take on the No. 3 Texas Longhorns at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Gregory Gymnasium. The match pits the defending Big 12 Conference champions against a Kansas State team looking to get its first road win over Texas since 2001. Each team is among the top in the conference in nearly every statistical category and will have heavy implications on the conference standings.
K-State enters Saturday’s match having won four in a row, including two road matches in Big 12 play. Texas played a shorter nonconference schedule but faced tough competition against two ranked teams and two others receiving votes when the matches were played.
When the Wildcats and Longhorns have met, it has traditionally been a series with exciting action. Last year’s sweep over K-State by Texas was the first time there had been a sweep in the series in over two years. The action is sure to be hot again in Gregory Gymnasium as the UT’s Destinee Hooker and K-State’s Rita Liliom are tied for the conference lead in kills per set.
Kansas State trails Texas in the all-time series against the Longhorns. Texas holds the advantage 19-7 and is 17-7 since the inception of the Big 12 Conference. Texas has won nine in a row over the Wildcats.
The last time K-State defeated Texas was in Manhattan in the Wildcats’ Big 12 Championship 2003 season. The Wildcats got most of their wins over the Longhorns in a three-year stretch winning all six matches from 1999-2001.
K-State is 3-10 in Austin against the Longhorns with all three wins coming during the six-match winning streak over Texas.
Kansas State: Suzie Fritz (Florida Atlantic 94) is in her eighth season leading the Wildcats. She holds the highest winning percentage in school history and is 8 wins shy of taking the top spot at K-State.
Texas: Jerritt Elliott (Cal State Northridge 91) is in his eighth year at Texas where he has led the Longhorns to the the NCAA Tournament every year but one. He coached the Longhorns to the 2007 Big 12 Championship.
On the Airwaves
Saturday’s match will be broadcast on 1350 KMAN with KMAN’s Rob Voelker with calling the action. Fans can also hear the match on the station’s Web site www.1350kman.com.
On the Web
Live stats for Saturday’s match will be available through Texas’ Web site www.texassports.com. The match will also be webcast on the site with live video streaming.
Scouting the Longhorns
The Texas Longhorns put their 2007 Big 12 Conference title on this line this season after capturing the title with a 19-1 record in league play. This season Texas has opened Big 12 action at 3-1 with its loss coming on the road to No. 2 Nebraska. The Longhorns have bested Iowa State, Kansas and most recently Oklahoma.
After a successful season last year, the Longhorns reached the NCAA Regional Finals and had four players named AVCA All-America. Juliann Faucette was named to the first team and earned National Freshman of the Year honors. Destinee Hooker added her second All-American award being named to the second team. Lauren Paolini and Michelle Moriarty were each named to the third team. Moriarty graduated, but Texas has four players with a total of eight combined AVCA and Volleyball Magazine All-American awards on this year’s squad.
The Longhorns are led by junior Destinee Hooker with 4.20 kills per set and a hitting percentage of .364. In Wednesday’s win over Oklahoma, Hooker had 19 kills. She was joined by three more teammates with double digit kills on the night. Juliann Faucette, Lauren Paolini and Ashley Engle all three are also big weapons for the Longhorns.
Faucette is averaging more than three kills a set, and Paolini and Engle each are over 2.50 kps. All four players have more than 100 kills to date on the season. Faucette and Engle each had a double-double in the win over Oklahoma.
Texas is undefeated at home with wins over Texas State, Georgia, Houston and Iowa State and have an all-time winning percentage of .829 in Gregory Gymnasium. The Longhorns were a perfect 15-0 at home last season and have only had one losing record at home in Gregory Gym.
The Longhorns are one of the top teams statistically in the conference and the nation. Texas leads the Big 12 in team hitting percentage and rank fifth in the nation. The No. 3 team in the nation ranks 17th in blocks per set and is second in the conference.
Invidiually, a number of Longhorns are among the best in the nation as well as Engle is 26th in aces. Paolini is among the Top 5 in hitting percentage along with K-State’s Megan Farr. Hooker is 25th in kills per set
The Longhorns have faced three ranked teams this season -- all ranked in the Top 5 -- and come out victorious once. Texas swept No. 2 USC in its season opener at the Runza/AVCA Showcase in Omaha, Neb. The Longhorns followed the match with a loss to No. 4 Stanford in five sets. No. 2 Nebraska bested Texas in Lincoln in four sets to give the Longhorns their first conference loss on the year. Texas has also played three teams that were receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 Poll at the time the match was played. The Longhorns defeated Utah, New Mexico State and Iowa State all in three sets.
Texas has had four players named Big 12 Players of the Week so far this season. Destinee Hooker has earned Offensive Player of the Week twice while Heather Kisner has been named Defensive Player of the Week once, and Michelle Kocher earned this week’s Rookie of the Week.
Catching Up with the Cats
The Wildcats played a five-set match for the first time this season on Wednesday at Kansas. Kansas State came away from Lawrence with a win over its in-state rival in the Sunflower Showdown. In front of a sellout crowd, the Wildcats overcame a see-saw battle and played strong in the crucial fifth set to get the win.
In the pivotal fifth set, K-State hit over .500 percent with six kills and no attack errors. Back-to-back blocks from middle blocker Kelsey Chipman helped energize the team in the closing points to win its fourth match in a row.
Nataly Korobkova came up big for the Wildcats against the Jayhawks with a season-high 20 kills. She surpassed her previous high of 17 kills against UC Irvine at the Nike Portland Invitational. She was joined in double figure kills by fellow seniors Rita Liliom and Jenny Jantsch.
Liliom again had 13 kills to continue her streak of reaching double digits in kills every match this season. Jantsch was perhaps the story of the night taking her emotional leadership role to another level and leading in her performance as well. Jantsch also had a season-high 11 kills and 12 digs. It was her second double-double of the season. A number of Jantsch’s kills came when the Wildcats needed them most and turned the momentum to K-State’s side of the net.
Lauren Mathewson added 14 digs in the match against Kansas, her 13th match this season with at least 10 digs. She ranks fourth in the Big 12 in digs in conference matches. She also is second on the team in service aces with 15.
The Wildcats continue to be one of the top teams in the Big 12 statistically and not just in the standings. K-State leads the league in assists and is second in kills. The team continues to be one of the strongest at the net and the service line ranking third in both blocks and service aces.
Senior Megan Farr is second in hitting percentage and ranks in the Top 5 in the nation in the category. K-State, Baylor and Nebraska each have two players in the conference’s Top 10 in blocks. Liliom joins UT’s Hooker atop the conference in kills per set at 4.20.
The Wildcats are undefeated this season when out-hitting their opoonents. K-State is 13-0 when it has a higher hitting percentage than the opposition. In the team’s two losses the Wildcats were out-hit .216 to .177 in a loss at No. 25 Purdue and .220 to .117 against No. 2 Nebraska.
Seven times K-State has held its opponent under .200 and twice under .100 while reaching the .300 mark seven times and is undefeated when hitting higher than .200.
In 25 sets the team has hit .300 or better and reached at least .500 five times on the season, including a season-high .650 and .600 both against Cornell. Three times K-State’s attack has not had a single error.