K-State did not find what they were looking for in South Beach, Florida; however they did not leave empty-handed. After finding success in a sweep of Florida A&M in the first game of the tournament, the Wildcats won a nail-biting match against Illinois State 3-2 before falling short in the final match against Miami 2-3. They went 2-1 overall in the tournament.
Illinois State grabbed the upper hand in set one (25-23) and three (27-25), having a 2-1 advantage over K-State with a chance to get their first win of the season. The Wildcats had 16 errors in the first three sets and an attacking percentage of .200.
K-State turned up the intensity in the fourth set, powering 16 kills and an attacking percentage of .400 to force a fourth set with a score of 25-12.
With no errors in the fifth set, K-State edged out the victory 19-17 over ISU. Three Wildcats produced double-doubles, with Brooke Sassin leading the way with 20 kills, 19 digs and one ace.
Bryna Vogel added in 13 kills and 23 digs while Katie Brand had a record-breaking game of 56 assists and 24 kills. Brand was the first Wildcat to produce a 20-20 double since November 25, 2000, when Lisa Mimick had 21 kills and 29 digs against Nebraska.
Alyssa Schultejans stepped into the spotlight in her second game of her college career, coming in for Kylee Zumach in the fifth set, who came out of the game with a knee injury. Schultejans gave the Wildcats 10 kills off of 23 attacks.
Illinois State came firing on all cylinders, with Jaelyn Keene coming up with 16 kills off of 35 total attacks. Aly Dawson and Ashley Rosch both added 16 kills and 20 digs for the Redbirds, while Lexi Varga produced 14 kills and 15 digs in ISU’s loss.
K-State then faced the University of Miami, who had not lost a set in the tournament prior to the playing the Wildcats.
It looked like the Hurricanes were about to continue that streak with a 25-21 victory in the first set, holding the Wildcats to an attacking percentage of .207. But K-State responded in the second set, having 19 kills and an attacking percentage of .412 to tie the match 1-1 with a 25-22 win in set two.
The Wildcats were itching their way into a third set victory, being down only 11-14. But the Hurricane’s 18 kills helped boost a rally that would help Miami wash away K-State’s chances, leading by as many as eight points and eventually coming to victory in the set 25-20.
Miami’s Kelsie Groot would help lead the charge for the Hurricanes, producing four kills in the set and eventually finishing the match with a double-double of 19 kills and 12 digs.
K-State was not willing to end their South Beach trip so easily. Brand assisted on 17 kills in the fourth set and finished off the match with her 33rd career double-double of 53 assists and 10 digs.
Vogel’s five kills in set four would help push the Wildcats to a 25-20 victory to force a fifth set for the second time in the tournament. Vogel finished with 16 kills and 14 digs.
The Wildcats were able to tie it up at 10, but a pair of blocks by Miami would help end the game on a 5-0 run, giving K-State their first loss of the season.
Miami’s defense was a difference maker in the contest, having a total of 12.5 blocks and 62 digs. Haley Templeton added 55 assists and 10 digs, while Olga Strantzali finished with 12 kills and 14 digs.
Schultejans had a career high in kills with 11, playing all five sets for the injured Kylee Zumach. Sassin and Katie Reininger had 17 kills each, and Sassin 10 digs to give her another double-double.
K-State returns home on Friday for the Varney’s Invitational at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats will play the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay at noon on Friday and the University of California, Berkeley at 7:30 p.m. The Wildcats will wrap up their home tournament with a match against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with first serve at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.