AMES, Iowa — The Kansas State and Iowa State volleyball teams were on the national stage Wednesday with the rivalry playing out on ESPNU.
After snapping an eight-match losing streak to the Cyclones in the first meeting this season, it was Iowa State this time that was able to defeat K-State in four sets.
The two ranked opponents were playing for positioning in the Big 12 standings. With the loss, No. 20 K-State (21-6, 8-6) remains in the top half of the conference, but is now three matches behind No. 19 Iowa State (17-7, 10-3) as the Cyclones remain in second place.
Junior middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger led the Wildcats with 12 kills and junior outside hitter Lilla Porubek added 11 kills. No other Wildcat reached five kills on the night and the team hit just .072 for the match, compared to Iowa State’s .238.
The Cyclones saw freshman Andie Malloy lead the way with 18 kills, as she has worked her way into the starting rotation since the first meeting this season. Victoria Hurtt added 13 kills and freshman right-side hitter Mackenzie Bigbee had nine. Senior libero Kristen Hahn had 23 digs for the Cyclones, as she continues to move up the all-time Big 12 digs list.
Senior setter Caitlyn Donahue had a double-double for the Wildcats, posting 18 digs to go with her 36 assists. Pelger also had a double-double with 16 digs for K-State.
Senior libero Kuulei Kabalis had 12 digs. The Wildcats stuffed the Cyclones 12 times, but those blocks were not enough to slow the Cyclones on their home floor and get the win.
K-State could not find an offensive rhythm in the opening set, as the Wildcats hit just .036, posting only seven kills.
The Wildcats had three blocks, but it was not enough as the Cyclones only had one additional error and hit a strong .517 to roll in the first set 25-14. Malloy posted six kills for the Cyclones to lead the way out of the gates.
Iowa State had a large lead early thanks to a 7-1 run that saw the Wildcats make a number of hitting mistakes. Midway through the set, the Cyclones got hot on offense with another burst, going on a 5-2 run with all the points coming on kills.
The second set saw the Wildcats find their offense as Porubek got hot early to grab the momentum and help the team to a win and even the match at one set apiece. After an early error from Porubek, she settled down in the second set and posted a string of four kills during a 6-3 run to take a 7-6 lead.
After K-State got hot early, the Cyclones had a number of errors that helped K-State build a lead up to as many as four points before fighting back and making it a tight contest tied at 22.
A blocking error and attacking error by the Cyclones would give K-State set point. An error by Porubek kept it alive for Iowa State, but the Wildcats responded with a block from Muff and Ludwig to end it 25-23.
In the third set, K-State appeared to grab the momentum after a 7-1 run to take a 13-11 lead. The Cyclones answered the call, however, with a quick 3-0 run to reclaim the lead and never looked back.
The Wildcats would score consecutive points only once more the remainder of the set, as Iowa State outscored the Wildcats 14-5 after the 13-11 lead K-State held to win 25-18 and take a 2-1 lead over K-State in the match.
The Wildcats dug themselves into a hole early in the fourth set, falling behind by six points quickly following a 5-1 lead by the Cyclones. K-State was able to pull within two points, but Iowa State again pulled away thanks to its defense not allowing the Wildcats to score consecutive points. The Cyclones offense kept applying pressure and closed the doors 25-15 to split the season series with the Wildcats.
K-State remains on the road this weekend as it travels to take on Texas Tech. First serve from the United Spirit Arena is set for 6 p.m. on Saturday. KMAN’s radio broadcast of the match will be exclusively online at kstatesports.com due to coverage of the K-State-Baylor football game.