It has been nine years since K-State has played matches in Bramlage Coliseum. However, head coach Suzie Fritz’s squad (4-1) is making it look like its normal home arena.
Freshman Kylee Zumach tallied a team-high and season-high 13 kills and sophomore Katie Brand contributed 33 assists as the Wildcats defeated Middle Tennessee State 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-17).
It was the second consecutive match of double-digit kills for Zumach.
“Sometimes it goes smoothly and you build momentum easily and sometimes you really have to grind – this match was a little bit of a grind for us,” K-State head coach Suzie Fritz said. “It was not coming as easily for us. So we had to grind it out, and those are good matches too. You have to have both sides. You have to be able to play within a system and play smoothly, and you have to grind it out when you need it.”
Before falling to K-State, the Blue Racers (1-4) opened the Varney’s Invitational with a 3-1 loss (25-20, 25-17, 19-25, 25-18) at the hands of Central Florida on Thursday night.
After a sluggish start and an early 3-6 deficit in the opening set, the Wildcats jumped ahead 12-6 midway through, but still only tallied a .062 hit percentage.
As the evening progressed, K-State gradually built momentum with a .324 second-set hitting percentage and a third-set percentage of .333.
Senior Gina Madonia ended up with a team-high 10 digs, which was her seventh double-digit performance of her career. It was also the first of this season.
With the night not running as smoothly as the tournament-opening sweep of Arkansas, the Wildcats got another strong performance from Brand, their all-conference setter.
The Nebraska native now has 159 assists on the season, which easily takes the top spot on the roster.
“[Brand] got it going in sets two and three,” Fritz said. “She managed the situation pretty well because we were not putting her in great situations, and yet she was trying to give us some opportunities and trying to get us some swings. She made some pretty good choices.”
K-State will now advance to its second consecutive championship match in as many tournaments against Central Florida (2-0 in the Varney’s Invitational).
Action resumes on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. with Middle Tennessee State taking on Arkansas with the Wildcats’ final match beginning at 7:00 p.m.