Cats notch 4th straight sweep

By Brady Bauman

The Kansas State volleyball team defeated Missouri State in three sets Wednesday night in a toasty Ahearn Field House — 25-19, 25-22 and 25-15.

The 22nd-ranked Wildcats swept their opponent for the fourth consecutive time, and for the sixth time overall so far this season.

Since the season began, K-State (7-0) has only lost two out of the 23 total sets the team has played.

Junior middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger had a double-double night with a match-high 11 kills to go along with 10 blocks — nine assisted and one solo. Pelger also had seven digs.

Teammates Lilla Porubek and Alex Muff added in eight kills apiece to help lead the Wildcats in scoring.

As a team, K-State posted 16 blocks, which tied for fifth-best in school history for a three-set match.

K-State head coach Suzie Fritz said she couldn’t fight her coaching instincts to see areas for improvement, but did conclude strengths are beginning to emerge.

“I hate to always be dissatisfied, but it is just in my nature that I want us to play more consistent,” Fritz said. “I want us to take care of the details.

“I thought there were a couple things we did really well. We continued to serve well, and serving can be one of the identities of this team. Serving can really be a skill that can be great. Right now, we are on our way to putting an enormous amount of pressure on the opponent with our serve.”

Pelger, who scored on a service ace midway through the third set, said her team was able to execute schemes that were worked on during the week in practice.

“All week we have been focusing on defense and getting our block tight, which is exactly what Suzie wanted us to do,” she said. “Sixteen blocks in three games is awesome. We came in and did exactly what we wanted to do tonight.”

Overall, the Wildcats averaged a hitting percentage of .319, while the Bears were only able to manage a mark of .149.

Senior K-State setter Caitlyn Donahue had a match-best 36 assists, four digs, a service ace and six block assists. Manhattan High product Tristan McCarty led the Wildcats with nine digs.

Fritz said the eight kills from Muff — the Cats’ senior middle blocker — were an example of an athlete broadening her game.

“Alex has always been our defensive anchor,” she said. “She blocks the most balls and she’s the most physical player we have at the net. To see her do some of those other things that she’s doing right now, in terms of the offense she’s providing — she’s gotten significantly better behind the setter and attacking — is really special.”

The Wildcats will continue play tonight at 7 p.m. against Saint Mary’s in Ahearn Field House.

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