A once-promising season came to an end Thursday night, as the K-State volleyball team fell to the Northern Iowa Panthers in three sets in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Lincoln, Neb. The Panthers’ defense stifled the Wildcats’ offense, never allowing them to gain any ground. K-State finished the match with a hitting percentage of .164.
The Panthers got off to quick start in both of the first two sets, going up 5-1 and 6-2 and taking a commanding two to zero set lead into intermission.
The Wildcats showed some signs of life early in the third set as they jumped out to a quick 3-point lead and appeared to be ready to get back into the match. Unfortunately, the Panthers fought back to take a 13-9 lead, forcing a K-State timeout. The Wildcats got back into the match, cutting the deficit to 22-20, but that was as close as they came before the Panthers went on to close out the match.
K-State was led by junior middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger, who finished the match with seven kills but, like the rest of the team, just could not get into any kind of rhythm on the offensive end.
K-State finishes the season with a 21-9 record. The careers of setter Caitlyn Donahue, opposite Kathleen Ludwig, defensive specialist Ali Boehler, middle blocker Alex Muff and defensive specialist Kuulei Kabalis came to an end, after the seniors helped guide the Wildcats to back-to-back NCAA tournament berths.