K-State volleyball suffers sweep at Iowa State

By The Mercury

AMES, Iowa — The Kansas State volleyball team kept it close in the opening set, but in the end the Wildcats were swept by Iowa State on Wednesday in the Hilton Coliseum, losing 26-24, 25-19 and 25-18.

Senior Courtney Traxson led K-State (13-4, 1-3 Big 12) with eight kills, while redshirt freshman Katie Brand registered her eighth double-double of the season with 25 assists and 11 digs. The eight double-doubles for Brand are tied for the most by a Wildcat this season.

Brand also had a team-best four blocks, as the Wildcats tallied nine team blocks in all, extending K-State’s stretch of matches with nine or more blocks to 10 straight. Taylor Johnson, Natali Jones and Chelsea Keating each had three blocks.

The Cyclones (9-5, 3-1 Big 12) had advantages over the Wildcats in kills (47 for Iowa State, 30 for K-State), hitting percentage (.211 to .091) and digs (64 to 53).

“We struggled with our passing as we went along,” K-State head coach Suzie Fritz said. “So, our offensive rhythm was breaking down because we were not in system enough and throwing out a lot of high balls. High balls are difficult swings to take and easy swings to defend.”

The Wildcats battled to keep it within striking distance in the first set as Iowa State only led by as many as four points in the early going. Down 18-15, the Cats tied it up for the first time behind four errors by Iowa State and a Johnson kill. The 5-2 run forced the Cyclones to use their first timeout, after which they restored their advantage to 22-20.

The ISU lead was quickly erased with three straight points for K-State, capped by a block from Brand and Keating that gave the Wildcats their first lead of the set at 23-22. K-State forced the set into extra points when Dakota Kaufman’s kill made it 24-24. But a kill from Tory Knuth of Iowa State and attack error by Johnson gave the set to Iowa State.

K-State started the second set with a 2-0 lead, but the Cyclones used a 9-2 run, fueled by three kills from Mackenzie Bigbee and two from Ciara Capezio to make it 9-4 Iowa State. The Wildcats didn’t relent, though, as they rallied with a 5-1 burst, highlighted by a dump kill from Brand as well as a kill and ace from Natali Jones and Kersten Kober, respectively.

Another 9-2 run for Iowa State gave the Cylcones their largest lead of the second set at 19-11. An Iowa State service error interrupted the spurt for the Cyclones, but K-State fell behind by nine points once again, 21-12.

Johnson and Jones combined for a block that ignited K-State, as it rattled off five straight points to pull within five at 21-16. Courtney Cook, making her first appearance of the match in the second set, was on the service line for the 5-0 run and kept the Cyclones out of system with effective serving.

Traxson’s sixth kill of the match down the line from the right side and made it 22-18 Iowa State, but the Wildcats couldn’t counter a Cyclones attack that closed out the set with a kill, an ace and another kill to clinch the game.

After falling behind 6-0 to start the third set, the Wildcats closed the gap to within three on three different occasions. A kill from Jones sparked a brief 4-1 run for the Cats that made it 8-5, but ISU pulled away by scoring five out of the next six points, giving it a 13-6 lead.

The Wildcats sided out trailing 19-12, which closed the gap to six points, but more importantly started a 5-1 run for K-State. Pelger and Kaufman each had a kill in the burst, with Kaufman’s kill making it 20-17 Iowa State. The Cyclones closed out the set behind three kills from Morghan Kuhrt.

The defeat drops K-State’s record to 4-2 on the road this season and extends its losing streak to six matches in Ames.

“I can’t remember the last time that we played really well at Iowa State,” Fritz said. “Right now we’re just focused on playing well anywhere. ”

The Wildcats will stay on the road Saturday as they travel to Norman, Okla., to face the Sooners at 7 p.m.

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