Texas Tech beats Cats in four sets

By The Mercury

LUBBOCK, Texas — The Kansas State volleyball team lost in Lubbock for the second straight season Wednesday, as the Red Raiders dropped the Wildcats in four sets (25-20, 21-25, 27-25, 25-13) at the United Spirit Arena.

The Wildcats (15-8, 3-7 Big 12) evened the match with the second set victory and held command of the third set until a late Texas Tech run forced extra points. The Red Raiders (9-18, 2-9) closed the match by scoring 32 of the final 47 points.

The loss forced a season-series split between the two programs and keeps the Wildcats winless (0-5) on the road in Big 12 play this season.

K-State junior Taylor Johnson had a career-high 10 blocks. The middle blocker is the first Wildcat to have double-digit blocks this season.

Redshirt-freshman Katie Brand and senior Dakota Kaufman each had four blocks for the Wildcats. Brand also recorded her team-best 10th double-double of the season with 41 assists and a team-high 18 digs. Kaufman added nine kills and one dig.

K-State senior Courtney Traxson led the Wildcats with 13 kills, her second straight match reaching that mark.

After turning in a .275 hitting percentage in the second set, including only three attack errors, the Wildcats had sub-.150 clips in the final two sets. K-State hit .144 for the match, while Texas Tech recorded a .224 hitting percentage and had at least 15 kills in each of the four sets.

On a block by senior Kaitlynn Pelger and Brand up the middle, K-State seized an 11-10 advantage in the first set. Texas Tech, though, went on a 13-1 run and giving the Red Raiders an insurmountable lead.

The Wildcats did close the gap, however, by utilizing a small 6-0 spurt. After a block by Brand and Johnson up the middle, an attack error by the Red Raiders forced Texas Tech to stunt K-State’s momentum with a timeout. Traxson and Johnson combined for the Wildcats’ third team block of the night coming out of the timeout to make it 23-18 Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders brought it to set point, but a kill by Traxson and Kaufman — her fifth of the set — narrowed it to four points at 24-20 before Texas Tech finally put away the Wildcats with a kill by Mikia Mills.

The Wildcats trailed by as many as seven points in the second set, but a Texas Tech set error ignited K-State’s comeback. A 9-2 Wildcats run, featuring four blocks and a kill by Johnson, evened the score at 17-17.

K-State took the lead on an attack error by Mills and made it 19-17 on Johnson’s seventh block of the night. A kill from junior Chelsea Keating gave the Wildcats a three-point lead at 21-18. K-State eventually claimed the win on back-to-back kills by Traxson.

K-State held control throughout the third set until Texas Tech’s late run. The Wildcats used a 6-0 burst in the early going to open up an 8-3 advantage. Johnson had four kills in the run, including a well-placed tip near the line.

The Wildcats fought off the Red Raiders in the middle portion of the set, as both teams traded points. K-State held a 23-18 advantage, but Texas Tech tied it up at 23-23 with four attack errors by the Wildcats — two via Red Raiders blocks — and a kill from Meghan Stacy.

K-State had two set-point opportunities, but three straight kills from three different Red Raiders gave the third game to Texas Tech.

Texas Tech used momentum gained late in the third set to pull away from the Wildcats in the early portion of the fourth set. The Red Raiders went up 10-2, dropping in five kills but also taking advantage of the Wildcats’ three attack errors and -.200 hitting percentage.

An ace by senior Tristan McCarty made it 10-4 Texas Tech, but the six-point deficit was as close as the Wildcats would get the rest of the way. K-State trailed by as many as 13 points on three different occasions.

The Wildcats will look to bounce back on Saturday when they host West Virginia in Ahearn Field House at 7 p.m. K-State lost to the Mountaineers in four games in the first meeting earlier this season in Morgantown, W. Va.

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