The K-State Volleyball team returned to action at 7:30 for the nightcap of their Friday double header. After an afternoon sweep of Southeast Missouri State, the Wildcats continued their dominance with a sweep of the Southern Illinois Salukis. K-State, now 5-0 on the season, looked sharp all evening, feeding off a large and energetic crowd. Announced attendance at historic Ahearn Field House was 2,278. Senior libero Tristan McCarty was adamant before the tournament that the Wildcats needed to keep the pedal to the metal during the final sets of games. McCarty and her team answered the bell, returning from halftime to finish off the Salukis, ending the day 2-0 in the driver’s seat to win the tournament title.
In the first set, the Wildcats used the one-two punch of seniors Lilla Porubek and Dakota Kaufman to put away the Salukis with general ease. K-State ended up winning the match 25-13. Porubek and Kaufman combined for 10 kills. Senior middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger added 4 kills and a solo block. The Wildcats also recorded two aces in the set, but had three attack errors that prevented them from playing a near-perfect game.
The second set was the closest of the evening between the Salukis and Wildcats. K-State won the set 25-18, but pulled away late. Southern Illinois battled throughout the set, relying heavily on outside hitter Jessica Whitehead. Whitehead finished the match with 14 kills, with a kill percentage of .524. The Wildcats won the second set with a balanced attack. Setter Katie Brand was again solid, recording 11 assists and 3 kills in the set.
The Wildcats finished off the Salukis in the third set with a 25-17 victory. Pelger finished the set with 2 kills, 2 blocks, 2 digs, and an ace. K-State led from start to finish, with the Salukis calling timeouts periodically in an attempt to slow down the Wildcat attack.
For the second match in a row, the Wildcats used a very balanced attack to beat their opponent. The Wildcats had four players finish with more than 7 kills, and finished the match with only 6 attack errors. Maybe more impressive was their sideout percentage. The Wildcats finished 40-50 on sideouts, an astounding 80%.
K-State will finish up the round robin tournament with the Siena Saints on Saturday at noon. After needing five sets to win all three of their matches in last weekend’s UNLV Invitational, K-State has looked much more poised and aggressive while defending their home court. If the Wildcats continue their balanced attack and play sound, fundamental defense like they showed on Friday, they should finish out the Wildcat Invitational without a blemish.