The Wildcats had their chances in the second set, but mistakes proved to be too costly for Kansas State.
The 14th-ranked Wildcat volleyball team was swept by No. 9 Texas 25-17, 30-27and 25-15 Saturday night at Ahearn Field House.
Texas continued its domination of K-State to win its 18th straight match over the Wildcats — a streak that began after K-State last defeated the Longhorns in 2003.
“We didn’t take care of opportunities, or we probably could have pulled (the second set), and it might have changed momentum going into the third,” K-State head coach Suzie Fritz said. “It’s a nice situation to be 1-1 against Texas coming out (of the second set), versus being down 0-2 and having to come back and recover there.
“They are not a team that will allow you to make a lot of unforced errors, and we made some untimely attack errors in the third (set) and some untimely service errors in the second. You have to play really solid.”
The Wildcats (16-2, 3-2 Big 12) stayed with the Longhorns (13-3, 6-0) in the opening set serve for serve and only trailed a point, 15-14, after a kill by K-State senior Alex Muff. A 10-3 UT run, though, squashed the Wildcats in the final half of the set.
It was the second set, though, that left K-State reeling.
K-State opened the set strong — in front of a season-record 3,044 fans — with a 9-3 lead after a service ace by senior setter Caitlyn Donahue.
Despite a comeback midway through the set by Texas, the Wildcats had the Longhorns on the ropes and at set-point with a 24-21 advantage.
K-State mistakes, however, snowballed.
A serve in the net and an attack error by the Wildcats kept Texas alive, but an error by the Longhorns gave K-State another chance to take the set. Another attack error by the Wildcats gave the serve back to UT, but the favor was again returned by the Longhorns with another attack error of their own.
Tied 27-27, a kill by Texas’ Khat Bell brought the serve back to the other side of the net, but was answered with a kill by K-State’s Kathleen Ludwig to tie the set again 28-all. It was the last advantage the Wildcats would get in the set, though, as a Texas kill and K-State attack error ended it.
All together, there were eight set-points at the end of set two.
The Longhorns carried their momentum in the third set after the break, and quickly took a 13-5 lead. They were in control the rest of the way.
“I think what happens is that you start to force things a little bit when things aren’t going your way,” Fritz said about the end of the second set. “You start to press. I think that’s snowballing.
“You start to press and one mistake maybe leads to another. You have too many people trying, in some ways, to do too much, instead of just staying in what we do… trusting the system, trusting each other that it will work if we just settle in a little bit.”
Donahue felt the effort was there, but that the execution was possibly lost along the way during the match.
“I’m a little bit disappointed, but I’m proud of the way my team played, especially in Games 1 and 2,” Donahue said. “Texas is a very powerful, physical team. So, to play with them we needed to do the little things right on our side, which means pass well, dig well, touch balls — do the things that don’t necessarily require power. I don’t know if we quite did that, especially in the third.
“There were some bright moments, but I definitely think (Texas) is a team we can play with.”
The Wildcats were led by junior middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger with 15 kills on 38 attempts. Muff added 10 kills. Muff led the way in hitting percentage at .353, but as a team, K-State struggled heavily in that area, hitting just .123.
Texas, meanwhile, hit .339 as a team and was led by 6-foot-3 sophomore Haley Eckerman with a match-high 19 kills. The Longhorns also out-blocked the Wildcats 11-6.
K-State is on a mid-week bye Wednesday, but will return to action Saturday on the road against TCU.