Errors stifle Wildcats against Missouri on the road

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It has been over a month since the K-State volleyball team has won a single game in a match.

This past Saturday, the University of Missouri (15-8, 7-6 Big 12 Conference) swept K-State (9-15, 3-10) in Columbia, Mo.

The errors largely tell the story of how the Wildcats fell to the Tigers. Compare K-State’s 24 hitting errors to Missouri’s 12, or K-State’s six service errors to Missouri’s three, or K-State’s seven reception errors to Missouri’s one, and you get the idea.

The brightest spot in the team’s loss was sophomore opposite hitter Kathleen Ludwig, the Player of the Match. She did well in the first two games, hitting more than .600 and presenting the largest blocking front, but she slowed some in the third and finished with eight kills, a .227 hitting percentage and three block assists.

Missouri dominated the first game. After taking an 8-1 run to move ahead to 12-5, the Tigers maintained a constant pressure to continue their drive and pummel the Wildcats, eventually shutting the game down 25-12.

Sophomore setter Caitlyn Donahue was back after a knee injury in the previous match and pushed a good amount of sets to the left side. Late in the game, K-State — having burnt both its timeouts long before — pulled senior outside hitter JuliAnne Chisholm and replaced her with freshman outside hitter Courtney Cook for Cook’s seventh appearance this season. Another relatively fresh face to the court was freshman outside hitter Lilla Porubek, who started for the first time Saturday. The Wildcats ended the first game with a .000 hitting percentage, and Missouri had already served up four aces.

Sophomore setter Ashley Kelican stepped in for Donahue — who left for unknown reasons, but most likely due to her aforementioned injury — to start game two, but the latter returned to the court after a few points. K-State stayed more level with its opponent in this game than in the former, but Missouri consistently popped up a point here and there to slowly pull ahead and win 25-17.

K-State’s blocking picked up in this game, but its numerous service errors halted the momentum immediately at inopportune times. Ludwig was blocked in this game for her first hitting error, which dropped her percentage to .500. As a team, the Wildcats pushed up their hitting percentage a tad higher, but Missouri was still more than .300, the goal for many volleyball teams. In another comparison, K-State had 17 hitting errors at this point, while the Tigers had recorded only five.

The third game started strong for the Wildcats, who galloped out with four straight to begin on proper footing. Nevertheless, the Tigers did the same and nabbed two aces. K-State held its latest lead of the match at 8-7 but could not regain the advantage. At 10-14, the Wildcats worked their depth one more time with redshirt freshman middle blocker Kacia Turner, in her seventh appearance, subbing in for sophomore middle blocker Alex Muff. K-State went for a last-minute scrabble to avoid the sweep, but the Tigers proved too much, winning the match 25-21.

K-State returns home for one match Wednesday in between two on the road. The Wildcats take on Texas Tech, and first serve is set for 7 p.m.

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