GAINESVILLE, Fla. No. 24 Kansas State’s NCAA Tournament adventure ended Friday night at the O’Connell Center at the hands of the host and the No. 4 Florida Gators, 3-0 (30-21, 31-29, 30-25). It is the second straight season the Wildcats’ season has concluded in the second round.
Kansas State (21-11) had two players in double figures in kills. Playing the final match of her Wildcat career, senior Agata Rezende tallied 16 kills on a team-high .500 hitting percentage. The Franca, Brazil, product registered her 25th double figure kill match this season and the 34th of her career. Rezende has led the Wildcats in the category 15 times this season.
Also in double figures was sophomore Rita Liliom. The native Budapest, Hungary concluded her strong postseason with 14 kills and 14 digs. She now has eight double-doubles in her career. For the tournament, Liliom recorded 37 kills.
Sophomore setter Stacey Spiegelberg finished with 45 assists, five digs and four block assists. The Overland Park, Kan., native finishes the season ranked sixth in K-State history for assists in a single season. Another Wildcat finishing among the top-10 in a season and career category is Joy Hamlin. The Douglass, Kan., product tallied five block assists on the night and finished atop the K-State single season block assist list with 168. Hamlin finishes ranked seventh on the career block assist list with 288.
Kansas State was able to stay close with the Gators early in the first frame. The Wildcats were tied eight ties times before the first timeout and held its only lead of the frame at 9-8 on a Rezende kill. Florida used an 8-2 run to pull away from the Wildcats. Florida distanced themselves from K-State, using a .469 to .243 difference in hitting percentage to capture the frame. K-State was paced by Rezende and Liliom with five kills apiece.
Florida lurched to a 7-1 lead, but K-State rebounded to equal the second game at 11 on a Spiegelberg kill. The Gators fended off the Wildcats and took a five-point advantage at 20-15. Again, K-State rebounded to take its first lead of the game at 26-25 on a Joy Hamlin kill. The Wildcats forced the frame to extra points on a kill by Rezende, but the Gators held serve and won the game.
In the game, the Wildcats posted their 14th 20-kill game this season, tying a season-high set against Florida A&M in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with 23. Rezende paced the Wildcats with seven kills, while Spiegelberg provided four kills and 18 assists.
The Wildcats hung tough in the final frame, battling Florida to 13 ties, with the lead changing six times. Unfortunately, the final lead change was held by the Gators, securing the lead at 25-24.