MANHATTAN, Kan. The Wildcats travel to Oklahoma this weekend to take on the Sooners after defeating Missouri on Wednesday in Manhattan. The Sooners are coming off a loss to No. 2 Nebraska and hoping to continue its recent success against Kansas State going.
The last time these two teams met Oklahoma came out victorious at home in four sets. The Sooners bested K-State on the road last season in five sets. In fact, OU has won four matches in a row against K-State to slow the Wildcats’ recent dominance in the series with the Sooners.
K-State is hoping to stay among the conference leaders as the midway point is approaching in league play. The Wildcats are currently in third with a traffic jam just behind them at fifth. A win for the Wildcats would improve them to 3-1 on the road in conference matches after beating Kansas and Texas A&M and falling to No. 3 Texas.
Kansas State trails in the all-time series with Oklahoma. The Sooners lead 44-23-1 and have won the last four contests with the Wildcats. The Sooners bested the Wildcats 3-2 and 3-1 last season.
The Wildcats have dominated the series since the inception of the Big 12 Conference winning 17 of 24 matches against Oklahoma. K-State knocked off OU in 14 consecutive matches over seven years spanning from 1999-2005 before dropping the last four matches.
K-State has won 11 matches against Oklahoma in Norman with eight of them coming in the Big 12 era. OU controlled the series until the Big 12 era winning 15 in a row at one point. K-State’s sweep of the series in 1996 was the first time the Wildcats had back-to-back victories against the Sooners.
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 7 wins shy of taking the top spot at K-State.
Oklahoma: Santiago Restrepo (East Stroudsburg 86) has coached the Sooner the last four seasons and turned the program around in a short time. In his third season there he led the Sooners to their highest winning percentage and ranking in school history.
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 www.soonersports.com.
Scouting the Sooners
Oklahoma has gone on a number of hot and cold streaks this season to post a 7-9 record so far. The Sooners opened the year 1-2 at their home tournament. Every team in the tournament was ranked or receiving votes in the AVCA Preseason Top 25 Poll, including OU. The Sooners defeated Michigan State in four sets before losing to Wichita State in three and Cal Poly in five.
The loss to Wichita State sparked a four-match losing streak for Oklahoma as the Sooners lost their next two matches to No. 7 USC and No. 21 San Diego. Oklahoma won its final match of the Trojan Invitational against Hofstra and went on a five-match winning streak. Most recently the Sooners are on a three-match skid with losses to Iowa State, Texas and Nebraska.
The Sooners have played five ranked opponents so far this season and two receiving votes. The Wildcats will be the sixth ranked opponent faced by the Sooners. With the double round robin format in the Big 12 and Baylor now receiving votes, that number will increase even more.
Hurricane season forced the Sooners to juggle its nonconference schedule around this year after the cancellation of a tournament in Houston, Texas. The Sooners, instead, were able to fill a slot in the Red Raider Round Up hosted by Texas Tech after a team could not participate due to the hurricanes. Oklahoma participated in the tournament, counting its match against Tech as a conference match and won the event.
Oklahoma has struggled on the road this season as the win over Texas Tech is the only road victory for the Sooners. OU is just 3-3 at home and only has a winning record at neutral sites this season.
In their last match, the Sooners had their lowest hitting percentage on the season as Nebraska held the team to a .096 percentage for the match. Caitlin Higgins was the only Sooner to reach double digits in kills with 11 and Brianne Baker was the closest behind her with six. The Sooners also did not register a service ace.
Bridget Laplante is the leader for the Sooner squad as she is third in kills (2.31 kps) and second in digs (3.13 dps) on the team. She has six double-doubles on the year and strung together three in a row before coming up one dig short against Texas. Laplante has had double digits in digs all but four matches. Last season she set her career-high in kills with 23 against Kansas State.
The Sooners most consistent offensive threat is Francie Ekwerekwu averaging 2.78 kps and hitting at a .301 clip. She also is one of the team’s leading blockers at 0.78 per set. Chrissy Disarro leads the Sooners in blocks and service aces on the year while Caitlin Higgins proves to be a versatile player like Laplante averaging 2.50 kps and 2.78 dps.
The Sooners have struggled to get into a rhythm in Big 12 play hitting just .166 as a team compared to their opponents’ .245. Oklahoma has been held under .200 in all but one of its Big 12 losses and including one of its wins. In their last two matches, the Sooners hit less than .100 as a team.
Catching Up with the Cats
Kansas State begins a stretch of playing three of its next four matches on the road. The stretch begins with a road game against Oklahoma -- a team the Wildcats have not beaten in two years.
The Wildcats held off the Missouri Tigers in their last match on Wednesday after seeing all four sets decided by two or three points. K-State held large leads in the final two sets of the match before Missouri chipped away at the lead but could not overtake the Wildcats.
Senior Rita Liliom again reached double digits in kills to tally at least 10 in every match this season. She also marked her sixth double-double on the year with 15 kills and 13 digs. Two other teammates joined her with double-doubles. Jenny Jantsch had 10 kills and a season-high 15 digs while Soriana Pacheco had 38 assists and also a season-high 10 digs. Every time Jantsch has reached double digits in kills she has marked a double-double and K-State has won.
Against Missouri, the Wildcats spread the attack around with five players notching at least 10 kills. Jantsch and Liliom were joined by Megan Farr (11), Kelsey Chipman (11) and Nataly Korobkova (16) to lead the Wildcats to the win. It was the first time this season the Wildcats have had five players have double-digit kills. In two previous matches, four Wildcats reached the mark together.
Libero Lauren Mathewson had one of her best matches of the season against Missouri with 20 digs. It was her third 20-dig match of the season and just one shy of tying her career high.
The Wildcats responded from having one of their worst defensive performances of the season against Texas with one of its strongest against Missouri. K-State had just one block against the Longhorns and came back against Missouri to stuff the Tigers 11 times and Megan Farr was in on six of them. The Cats also had a season-high 79 digs in the match with four players reaching double digits.