Wildcats defeat Nebraska, will travel to Hawaii to take on Pepperdine Waves

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Coming into the season, the Wildcat volleyball team was predicted to finish eighth out of nine Big 12 Conference teams. With this prediction, it would be hard to find anyone that would believe what happened last Friday night in Lincoln.

The Wildcats, after defeating the Wichita State Shockers, took on the host school and No. 2 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Wildcats, 22-10, pulled a shocking upset as they defeated the Cornhuskers in five sets, 25-22, 22-25, 31-29, 22-25, 15-11.

After the match, coach Suzie Fritz could not hold back her excitement about what her team had just accomplished.

“I’m excited that we get to keep playing volleyball,” she said.

The first set saw the teams battle back and forth until the very end of the set. K-State used a balanced offensive attack that saw five players each with multiple kills.

In the second set, the Wildcats again appeared to be on the way to a commanding two set lead. K-State held an 18-15 lead until the Cornhuskers went on a five-point run to take the lead. They then held the Wildcats off to tie the match at one set apiece as they entered intermission.

The third was opposite of the second as Nebraska held a 20-16 lead. This time, it was the Wildcats who responded with a 6-1 run to take a one-point lead. The teams traded points all the way up to 29 points. Then sophomore hitters Kaitlynn Pelger and Courtney Traxson each got a kill that gave the Wildcats the victory in the third set.

With their backs against the wall, the Cornhuskers jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the set. However, as they have done all year, the Wildcats battled back and eventually took an 18-17 lead. Nebraska responded with a three point run of their own, and were able to win the set to force a fifth and deciding set.

In the fifth set, K-State was the team able to get to the quick lead. Even though the Cornhuskers pulled to within one point, the Wildcats did not crumble under the pressure. The Wildcats scored three straight points and went on to pull off the upset. Coach Fritz talked about why the Wildcats were able to pull the upset.

“We spent a long time talking about playing our best volleyball in December. I think we finally hit our stride and peaked at the right time. We’ve won a lot of fifth sets this year,” she said. “I don’t have any magic dust I throw on them or anything. I just told them we’ve been in these before and we’ve been winning them all year and let’s go get one more. I like the quality of volleyball we are playing right now.”

Pelger talked about how the team was able to pull of the upset over such a great program.

“I think throughout the whole match we stayed relaxed and stayed composed,” she said. “Going into the fifth set we were still 100 percent confident. I’m so proud of all of us. Nebraska is so great. Their team is one of the top teams in the nation, and it feels so great to get a win like this.”

The Wildcats will be in action in Friday in Honolulu as they take on the Pepperdine Waves. Pepperdine will enter the match ranked 16th in the country.

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