Wildcats Drop Senior Night to Cyclones
MANHATTAN, Kan. The Kansas State Wildcats struggled against Iowa State on Wednesday night and could not send their seniors off with a win in their final home match at Ahearn Field House. The Cyclones swept the Wildcats 25-19, 25-17, 25-16 en route to bolster their argument for an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament.
K-State (23-7, 13-6 Big 12) could not find a rhythm against the Cyclones (18-12, 10-9) in a match that saw the Wildcats hit for a negative percentage in two sets. Kansas State coach Suzie Fritz said her team was outplayed by Iowa State and took advantage of her team’s weaknesses on Wednesday.
“They played great. They dug a lot of balls and they hit the ball well,” Fritz said. “I don’t want to take anything away from them. Iowa State is a good team and they played well, but we were about 60-percent in a lot of ways tonight.”
When asked if Iowa State deserves a nod to play in the NCAA Tournament, Fritz made her feelings known for the Cyclones and other Big 12 teams.
“Without question Iowa State is a tournament team,” Fritz said, “so is Baylor and so is Texas A&M.”
Iowa State was led by senior Jen Malcom and freshman Rachel Hockaday with 11 kills apiece. Hockaday added six digs and a service ace. Her serve proved to help the Cyclones stay on service for extended periods as the Wildcats struggled to handle it at times and run in system. Libero Ashley Mass had 18 digs in the win while setter Kaylee Manns had 31 assists and directed Iowa State’s offense to a .213 hitting percentage for the match.
K-State failed to have a player reach double digits in kills. Nataly Korobkova led the Wildcats with eight kills. Megan Farr added six, and Jenny Jantsch tallied five. Rita Liliom had just one kill in the match marking the first time she did not reach double digits since Nov. 24, 2007, at Texas a streak of 31 matches.
“She’s been an unbelievable player for us and it’s not over,” Fritz said of Liliom. “We have to try to get rested and ready for Texas Tech on Saturday and the NCAA Tournament after that.”
The Wildcat faithful said goodbye and thank you to six special student-athletes following the match as Farr, Jantsch, Korobkova, Liliom and Leslie Townsend played their final home match. Student assistant coach Megan Kroeker was also recognized for her time on the court and bench with the Wildcats.
Fritz said Senior Night is an emotional match but it should not be reason for the loss.
“Maybe Senior Night and playing in front of your family ups the intensity, but I don’t like to make excuses. We just didn’t play well enough,” Fritz said.
The Wildcats close the regular season at Texas Tech on Saturday at 7 p.m. They will then await the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee’s decision to see who and where they will play in the postseason. The Selection Show will air live on ESPNU at 8 p.m. CST with a re-air on ESPNews at 8:30 p.m.