The Wildcats opened up Big 12 Conference play at home Saturday with a controlling victory against the Baylor Bears. The Wildcats used early momentum to sweep Baylor in three sets and extend their winning streak to eight matches in the process.
The Wildcats wasted no time getting after Baylor, as they forced Baylor’s head coach, Jim Barnes, to call a time out being down 0-5.
Baylor returned the favor and won nine of the next 15 points, narrowing the gap to two points and forcing coach Suzie Fritz to call a timeout.
After the timeout, the Wildcats took nine of the next 16 points to make the score 20-16. Coach Barnes tried to rally his players with another timeout but it was to no avail. The Wildcats put away the first set with a 5-3 run to win with a final score of 25-19.
The Wildcat’s second set seemed like déjà-vu, as they opened the set again with a 5-0 run. Coach Barnes naturally called a timeout to stop the bleeding. The Wildcats did not stop there though, they continued to dominate by scoring the next four points making the score 9-0.
Baylor was not going down easy though, as they went on a 7-3 run to bring the score to 12-7. Coach Fritz responded by getting her team together with a timeout. The Wildcats would give no more ground, winning four of the next seven points to make the score 16-10. The lead would only get bigger and the Wildcats coasted to a 25-15 win, thanks to a bombardment of kills late in the set by Kaitlynn Pelger.
The third set was a back-and-forth battle in the beginning. After the score was 6-4 in the Wildcats’ favor, they drove off with the lead and never looked back. The Wildcats went on a 4-0 run that was capped off with back-to-back aces by Caitlyn Donahue.
The Wildcat’s lead continued to grow, as they never let Baylor get within more than five points the rest of the set. K-State went on a 9-6 run to make the score 19-10. Baylor called a timeout in hopes of not being swept. The Bears would battle for the next couple rallies to get within seven points but after a K-State timeout, the Wildcats ended any hope of a comeback and completed the sweep, winning the third set 25-18.
The Wildcats never trailed during any point of the match and were only tied with Baylor once, in the third set.
After the game, coach Fritz was pleased with her team’s play.
“We’re very excited about the way we played,” Fritz said. “That’s three consecutive matches where we felt like we put together a complete effort on both sides of the ball.”
The win over Baylor brings the Wildcat’s record to 12-3, matching their total number of wins from last season. Fritz said that feat is not something they will celebrate.
“It’s a new year,” Fritz said. “I haven’t looked back and I don’t think our team has either. I think we’ve grown a lot, we’re a different team, and we’re focused on what’s next. Not what happened a year ago.”
Kathleen Ludwig, who was one of three Wildcats with double-digit kills, had a similar approach to her coach.
“I think we keep it going by forgetting it, in a sense,” Ludwig said. “We’re happy and we’ll celebrate, but the next day it’s back to the drawing board and back to work. Staying in the present is what we talk about.”
K-State’s next two matches will be on the road against opponents that are both receiving votes in this week’s AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. The Wildcats start the week off at Missouri on Wednesday night and finish at Texas A&M on Saturday.