In hopes of grabbing its first five-match winning streak in 10 years, the Texas volleyball team thwarted K-State’s attempt at an upset.
It was only the second time the Wildcats (17-3, 4-2) had been swept this season and its their 22nd-straight loss to the traditionally-dominant Longhorns (14-0, 6-0).
In the end, it was difficult for both players and coaches to find positives in their performance.
“I think that (tonight’s match) was a good experience for us,” head coach Suzie Fritz said. “If you want to be at that level, you have to know what that looks like. So I think having to struggle in some ways and failing and not managing adversity will assist us in our development in that area. I mean that is the hope. Learning experience is the positive thing we can take from it.”
Set one found Texas doing what the Longhorns do best, which is taking offensive efficiency to the limit.
K-State hit a very respectable .290, which on any other day of the week would normally find the set going the Wildcats way.
However, the Longhorns doubled the number by hitting .588 in set one to soundly put their opponents away and claim set one 25-19.
K-State’s best opportunity to out-perform Texas came in set two as the second-best team in the nation hit .206, but the Wildcats were unable to respond.
They matched the Longhorns almost point-for-point as they tied at 22-all, but Texas went on a three-point run to take the set 25-22.
“I don’t think we handled ourselves well,” senior outside hitter Chelsea Keating said. “They’re going to have their hero moments, really big hits, really big blocks, and I think just bouncing back from that and going point-by-point with them instead of getting caught up in the game. I think we could have been a little more composed.”
Any hopes of rebounding in set three were quickly deflated as the Wildcats came out of halftime and played arguably their worst set of the season, hitting .000 from the floor. Texas rolled at a .429 and 100 percent sideout percentage, winning 25-12.
The focus now for the Wildcats is forward. A former nationally-ranked Oklahoma team visits Manhattan on Wednesday and a trip to Morgantown, West Virginia awaits them on Saturday. Following these two matches, round two of conference play begins.
“(Texas) is a very good volleyball team but we didn’t play to our capabilities,” Fritz said. “That’s disappointing. So how are we going to fix it? How are we going to move on? What are the things that got away from us? How can we respond differently? I think it’s all about what do we learn from it and what do we do next. And that’s after every match, win, lose or indifferent. We learned a lot about ourselves in the course of that match and I think we’ve got a lot of room to grow.”
Whether it has been in set rallies or responding after losing a tough set, resiliency has definitely been a theme for this K-State team.
“I definitely do (think we can rebound),” senior middle blocker Natali Jones said. “I think we could have started out stronger in the third (set). We didn’t play so hot but we’re coming back and working hard on Monday.”