K-State volleyball wraps up nonconference play at Michigan

Brooke Sassin, sophomore outside hitter, spikes the ball over the net during the match against Missouri State University in Ahearn Field House on Sept. 8, 2014. K-State won the match 3-2. (Kandace Griffin | The Collegian)

As the Wildcats look ahead to next weekend’s opening Big 12 competition, an impressive eight-match winning streak sits in their back pocket as they prepare to head north to Michigan on Friday.

The team is coming off of a sound performance against South Dakota State on Tuesday and will hit the road for its third away tournament of the season.

K-State received votes in the latest AVCA poll, which was released on Monday.

The team was forced to look to its underclassmen in the early parts of the season, and the younger squad has gone way beyond just accepting the challenge.

As of Tuesday’s match, the top three Wildcats in kills were either freshmen or sophomores. Freshman outside hitter Kylee Zumach, leads not only all players on her team in kills with 129, but she also leads all conference freshmen in kills. She also ranks third in conference total kills, only trailing West Virginia’s Jordan Anderson and Baylor’s Andie Malloy.

However, a good right hook is nothing without a steady left jab and so far, Brooke Sassin has been that complement to Zumach. A total of 125 kills puts her right behind Zumach on the list of kills in the Big 12.

Sassin, a Mississippi State transfer, has been stellar so far for K-State as she has been named to several All-tournament teams this season.

A setter of all-conference caliber certainly helps the duo in their efforts to lead K-State at the net. That’s where setter Katie Brand steps in. She is second in the conference in assists per set with 11.35 and third in the conference in overall assists, with 420 heading into this weekend tournament.

On Friday, the Wildcats start off the tournament with Eastern Michigan. The Eagles are off to a 7-2 start and have played and beaten two teams that K-State beat in last weekend’s Saluki Invitational, Marshall and IPFW.

Eastern Michigan is led by junior outside hitter Stacy Perinar, who leads her team with 104 kills.

Later that evening, the Wildcats will face Michigan on its home floor. With a 3-4 record, the Wolverines have had their ups and downs. They lost to Arkansas early in the season in five sets, but they also beat a Duke team in five sets that was ranked 19th at the time but as of Monday is only receiving votes in the polls.

The Wolverines are led by sophomore middle blocker Abby Cole and her 89 kills.

Finally, K-State wraps up nonconference play on Saturday as they take on Youngstown State. The Penguins are 9-3 on the season and collected their first win against a ACC school in 12 years as they beat Virginia in five sets last week.

They are led by freshman outside hitter Sam Brown who has 16 service aces on the season and is averaging .36 aces per set.