K-State tops Kansas in a five-set battle in Lawrence


In a battle of teams fighting for a spot in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 poll, K-State got the edge against previously ranked Kansas in five sets.

K-State (14-2, 1-1) was led in scoring by freshman outside hitter Kylee Zumach, who recorded her 13th double-digit kill effort of the year.

Following closely behind was sophomore outside hitter Brooke Sassin who recorded 15 kills and a stellar .351 hitting percentage.

“Honestly, I didn’t have a doubt in my mind,” Sassin said of K-State’s ability to pull out the victory. “When the ball was coming I really had to be confident. (Kansas) is a big team. So I just had to go up the block and do what I could with what they were giving me.”

It was Sassin’s first trip to Lawrence, along with several other Wildcats.

“It’s awesome,” Sassin said. “I don’t even really have words right now. I just want to scream. It was just great. We knew coming in that we were rivals and that it was going to be a tough game but we never gave up.”

The Wildcats also had a great passing game with four different K-State players with double-digit digs and leading the pack was sophomore libero Kersten Kober with 24.

“I think I was more confident back there,” Kober said in comparison to her performance against Baylor. “I think I let go of what happened on Saturday. I just let go of the past and tried to better the ball each time I touched it.”

The Wildcats came out with a offensive fire in their stomachs in the opening set, hitting an impressive .367 percentage from the field compared to Kansas’ (12-4, 0-2) 176 mark. K-State tied it up at 15 and never looked back as it went on a 10-4 run to close out the set 25-19.

The two teams kept the second set close down the stretch, but KU maintained its lead and eventually claimed it with a 25-23 advantage.

Saying the third set was dreadful for K-State might just be an understatement. The Horejsi Family Athletics Center was rocking as the Jayhawks claimed it thanks to a 15-4 run and a 25-14 third-set victory. K-State hit a .030 mark compared to KU’s .379.

The fourth set was a mirror image of the second set as it was kept close throughout. Kansas answered with a small run of its own, but K-State rebounded and closed it out 25-22.

While some coaches might become uncomfortable by late-match competition, head coach Suzie Fritz embraces it with open arms.

“I think the thing I’m most proud of is the resilience,” Fritz said. “We’ve said all along we want to get in a dogfight. That’s what we want, we want the dogfight. So be ready for it because it’s coming.”

That win opened the door for the tie-breaking fifth set, which was K-State’s second in a row and fourth of the season.

Kansas kept the closing set in reach, but the Wildcats pulled away due to great passing.

K-State hit for its highest clip of the night in the fifth at .333, while Kansas hit for its lowest of the evening at .038.

“It’s just so great for us,” Kober said. “Last year we didn’t win a single away game and this is our first away game. We came out and we played well on our side of the net and that’s what we wanted to do from the beginning. It was great to play clean on our side and do what we need to do to win the game.”

K-State will hit the road for Lubbock, Texas this weekend as they prepare to face Texas Tech on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Tim Everson was born in Wichita, KS in 1994. Before fifth grade he moved up to Manhattan for one year before settling in Riley, KS where he graduated from Riley County High School in 2012. Tim has worked for the Collegian since spring of 2014 and took over as Sports Editor during the summer of 2015. Tim loves sports, music, movies and good food when he can get it.