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Wildcats pick up first victory at Games

By The Mercury

Staff reports

KAZAN, Russia — After four matches that saw the Kansas State volleyball team’s defense block well, the Wildcats put together its most impressive offensive effort thus far at the World University Games en route to sweeping Norway Saturday morning to get their first victory.

Facing elimination in the consolation bracket at the Games, Team USA came up with a strong effort on offense to dominate Norway with a 25-18, 25-15, 25-16 victory .

The match started off slow for Team USA with Norway jumping to a quick 4-0 lead, but the Americans responded well, chipping away at the deficit and using a 5-0 run to take its first lead at 13-12. From there, K-State trailed only once for the rest of the match, down 2-3 in the second set.

“Today, we wanted to be able to build momentum on offense and not rely solely on our serving and blocking to score,” K-State head coach Suzie Fritz said. “The match with Norway was by far our most productive offensive effort. We were terrific at the net and blocking balls has been a bright spot for us throughout the tournament and I thought that our serving was very effective as well.”

The Wildcats hit .350 for the match, their best performance of the Games, posting 35 kills. As in earlier matches, the team’s blocking was excellent with 11 stuffs against Norway. The serving also was strong with a total of eight aces.

Courtney Traxson had an solid match, leading the team with eight kills. She was extremely efficient as well, hitting .500. Chelsea Keating was again a strong presence for the Wildcats with six kills on a .600 hitting percentage. Keating and Dakota Kaufman led the team with three blocks apiece.

After losing 3-0 in the first four matches at the World University Games, Fritz said she was happy to see her team find its rhythm on offense and continue to learn from the experience of playing against elite competition in order to get the win on Saturday.

“I’m proud of the resilience that we have shown to stay focused on growing and improving as a team and controlling the things that we are capable of controlling,” Fritz said. “It was good to get our first win, but more importantly, we feel good about the way we played volleyball in all phases.”

With the win, Team USA set up a match with China this morning. The Wildcats were to face China at 6 a.m. (CST) in a match for 13th place at the World University Games.

Slovakia sweeps Team USA

To start play in the consolation bracket at the World University Games, K- State put up some impressive numbers at the net defensively but it was not enough to defeat Slovakia.

In the Wildcats’ fourth match playing for Team USA at the Games, K-State posted 16 blocks in a 3-0 sweep to Slovakia.

Junior middle blocker Taylor Johnson led the effort, as she posted five blocks. Keating continued her strong play, as she tallied four blocks to go with three kills. Senior Kaitlynn Pelger had three kills and led the team in total points as she had four kills. Traxson also added four kills to help lead the offense.

Team USA fell to Slovakia 10-25, 18-25, 19-25, setting up its match with Norway Saturday morning.

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