MANHATTAN, Kan. The Wildcats will say thank you to a six current and former players during Senior Night celebrations Wednesday as Kansas State plays host to Big 12 rival Iowa State at 7 p.m. Kansas State will be looking for a different result from its last meeting with the Cyclones after Iowa State handed the Wildcats a 3-2 loss in Ames.
Both teams will be jockeying for seeding positions in the NCAA Tournament with Iowa State tied for fourth in the conference standings and K-State locked in at third. Each team is ranked regionally in RPI, and a win would add to their arguments.
In their last match with Iowa State, the Wildcats fell as neither team could provide consistent play. K-State edged the Cyclones in the first set 25-20 but fell 25-14 in the second. The Wildcats returned the favor with a 25-13 win in the third set to gain the advantage. Iowa State then outlasted the Cats 25-21 in the fourth and closed the door 15-8 in the fifth. It remains K-State’s only conference loss outside of national powerhouses Nebraska and Texas.
Wildcats being recognized for Senior Night are middle blocker Megan Farr, outside hitters Jenny Jantsch, Nataly Korobkova and Rita Liliom, defensive specialist Leslie Townsend and former middle blocker and current student assistant coach Megan Kroeker.
Iowa State holds the edge in the all-time series with K-State after winning the match in Ames this season. The Cyclones have now won 37 matches to the Wildcats’ 36. The Wildcats won both matches last year to even the series after dropping both in 2006. The sweep of the series by the Cyclones in 2006 ended a 20-match winning streak by K-State over Iowa State in the series. The Wildcats had won every match in the Big 12 era up to that point.
Prior the inception of the Big 12 Conference, the Cyclones controlled the series holding a 34-14 advantage from 1976-1995. During that span the Cyclones had one streak of 14 consecutive wins over the Wildcats.
Traditionally the longer the matches last in this series the more likely Iowa State is to come up the victor as 24 of K-State’s wins have been sweeps while 14 of Iowa State’s wins over the Wildcats have been sweeps. K-State has a losing record against ISU in four- and five-set matches.
Kansas State: Suzie Fritz (Florida Atlantic 94) is in her eighth season leading the Wildcats. She became the winningest coach in school history this year and currently stands at 170 career victories.
Iowa State: Christy Johnson (Nebraska 96) is in her fourth year at the helm of the Cyclone program. She led the team to the Sweet 16 last season and a No. 17 final ranking. She has taken the team to its first back-to-back NCAA Tournaments.
On the Airwaves
Wednesday’s match will be broadcast on 1350 KMAN with Rob Voelker calling the action. Fans can also hear the match on the station’s Web site www.1350kman.com.
On the Web
Live video and stats for Wednesday’s match will be available through www.k-statesports.com. Fans can see the streaming video via the Powercat Passport service.
Scouting the Cyclones
The Iowa State Cyclones are looking to bolster their argument to the NCAA Tournament selection committee. Iowa State is currently tied for fourth in the strong Big 12 Conference but another win over a ranked opponent would add to its case. The Cyclones have reached the tournament the last two years under coach Christy Johnson -- their first back-to-back appearances in school history.
Libero Ashley Mass has 538 digs on the season and is the fastest player in school history to reach 1,000 career digs. The sophomore reached the mark in just her 59th match for the Cyclones. Brittany Dalager was the previous fastest in 75 matches. Mass is also pushing for the school record for digs in a single season of 606. If she maintains her current pace and the Cyclones reach the NCAA Tournament, she has a shot at the mark.
Two more Cyclones are approaching milestones this season. Senior middle blocker Jen Malcom is approaching 1,000 career kills and junior setter Kaylee Manns is nearing the 1,000 assists mark to be second in school history.
Iowa State has struggled in the final month of the season going 2-4 in November. Two of those loses came to Nebraska and Texas, and the Cyclones fell victim to the hottest team in the conference Texas A&M two weeks ago and on the road to Oklahoma last week.
Catching Up with the Cats
The Wildcats edged Missouri on the road in their only match last week to escape with a come-from-behind 3-2 win. It was the second time this season the Wildcats have rallied from behind 1-2 to win a match. K-State is now 8-5 after losing the first set.
In the comeback, senior outside hitter Rita Liliom led the way with 22 kills. It was her sixth 20-kill match of the season. She played a big role in the comeback tallying four kills in a six-point run by the Wildcats to win the fourth set and force a pivotal fifth. With Missouri leading 20-19, K-State rallied with six straight points to win the set 25-20. Liliom then tallied three kills in the fifth set and ended the match with a service ace on the final point to win 15-12. Liliom also posted her 11th double-double of the season with 15 digs.
Libero Lauren Mathewson had another stellar night defensively for the Wildcats marking her eighth 20-dig match of the season with 27. She went head-to-head against Missouri’s libero Caitlyn Vann as both rank among the top three in the Big 12 in digs per set. Mathewson has outperformed Vann in both matchups this season.
The Wildcats also are eyeing an NCAA?Tournament bid and looking to improve its seed by finishing the season strong. A win over regionally ranked Iowa State would help in that argument. It also would give K-State 24 wins for the season the second most in the Suzie Fritz era.