Wildcat volleyball looks to rebound against Sooners

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Sophomore Kersten Kober backs up Redshirt freshman Sheridan Zarda as Zarda bumps the ball during the Wildcats' match against Iowa State Oct 8. The Cats play Oklahoma Wednesday evening in Ahearn Fieldhouse. (Emily DeShazer | The Collegian)

Despite a 1-1 record over its last two games, K-State climbed to No. 22 in the polls ahead of its matchup against Oklahoma on Wednesday.

The new ranking is the highest the Wildcats (17-3, 4-2) have been listed since Nov. 12, 2012, when K-State was ranked No. 20. The team’s No. 22 ranking was the second-biggest jump in this week’s AVCA top 25, behind Illinois’ climb from No. 15 to No. 10.

The Sooners (14-5, 5-1) have gone 1-2 against ranked teams so far this season and have been ranked as high as No. 24 in the top 25 polls. They currently are receiving 45 votes and sit just outside of the rankings.

Oklahoma, similar to Texas, is a team that prides itself on accuracy as it sits in second in the Big 12 in hitting percentage at .265. Coached by Santiago Restrepo, who is in his 11th year at Oklahoma, they also have the third-fewest errors in the conference.

After struggling with a machine-like offense like the Longhorns, K-State’s defense will need to improve quickly as the efficient Oklahoma hitters and offense will look to capitalize on holes exposed by Texas.

Oklahoma’s service sits in second behind TCU, averaging 1.45 aces per set. Junior outside hitter Kierra Holst leads the Big 12 in service aces with 39.

The Sooners also have some strength in their youth as freshman middle blocker Marion Hazelwood ranks 10th in the Big 12 in hitting percentage with .328.

The weakness of Oklahoma, however, lies in their defense. They rank ninth in opponent hitting percentage and dead last in the Big 12 in blocks per set.

If K-State’s three-headed monster of freshman outside hitter Kylee Zumach, sophomore outside hitter Brooke Sassin and sophomore middle blocker Katie Reininger can get rolling they will be able to exploit the Sooners’ defensively.

First serve between the Sooners and the Wildcats is at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Ahearn Field House.

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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.