K-State Smelling a Repeat at Varney’s Invitational

Junior outside hitter Brooke Sassin and Junior middle blocker Katie Reininger block during the Varney's Invitational vs California on Sept. 4, 2015 in Bramlage Coliseum. (Nathan Jones | The Collegian) Photo credit: Nathan Jones

Receiving a warm welcome home from South Beach, K-State gave the hometown fans a thank you gift at Bramlage Coliseum Friday night with two wins against Wisconsin Green Bay 3-0 and a 3-1 win over Cal.

“Our fans are always awesome, no matter where we are,” Outside hitter Brooke Sassin said. “I think it was really nice that even though it was Friday night, they still make their time to come.”

K-State’s defense was too much for Green Bay in the first set, with the Wildcat’s blocking five of their attacks and holding the Phoenix down to under a .050 attacking percentage. The Phoenix also had nine errors in the first set while only producing six kills.

The Wildcats cruised their way to a 25-16 set one win. Green Bay came back with 10 kills in the second set to give them a 16-15 lead, coming off of a 3-0 run. Thanks to three straight points from Alyssa Schultejans coming out of a timeout, K-State was able to go on a 6-0 run and end the set with a 25-18 victory.

Schultejans was once again playing crucial minutes for the Wildcats, as Kylee Zumach was out with a knee injury. The freshman from Silver Lake, Kansas finished with six kills and four service aces against the Phoenix.

“Coming in for (Kylee) is filling big shoes,” Shultejans said. “I feel that I need to perform my best because with her being her, there’s a lot of gaps to be filled.”

Green Bay’s 21 errors and 23 kills were not enough to put the Phoenix on top, as K-State took the sweep 25-14 in the third and final set.

Megan Powers lead Green Bay with seven kills off of 21 attacks while Emily Riese added 16 assists. Katie Brand set 31 assists and libero Kersten Kober added 14 digs. Brooke Sassin lead all players with 11 kills off of 28 attacks.

Cal-Berkeley came into the game with rising momentum. After being down 0-2 against Nevada-Las Vegas, Lara Vukasovic lead the Golden Bears to a comeback rally by scoring 16 kills and producing four blocks in a 3-2 win over UNLV.

Vukasovic would not play against K-State due to the flu.

Cal continued their hot streak, and edged out the Wildcats after a back and fourth battle 26-24 in set one. Lillian Schonewise produced six kills on six total attacks, finishing the day leading all players with 19 kills off of 31 attacks.

The Wildcats produced seven errors in the first set and had an attacking percentage of .140.

“We were making far too many unforced errors,” Head coach Suzie Fritz said. “I didn’t think we were taking productive swings. I thought we were missing too many serves and simply playing with too high air.”

After responding in set two 25-21, K-State was set to be in for another dog fight, trailing 9-12 in the third set. The Wildcats got the Octagon of Doom exploding, going on a 10-0 run to cap off a 25-20 set three victory.

“Our serving upgraded significantly in a lot of ways,” Fritz said. “We got bigger point scoring runs with it and our transition game was a lot tighter. Even if we didn’t kill the first one, the swings we were getting on the second, third and fourth opportunities were more productive swings.”

Schultejans produced five kills during that run, finishing with a career-high of 18 kills. Brand’s 15 assists in set four helped the Wildcats close out Cal 25-18 and give them the match 3-1. She grabbed her 34th career double double with 54 assists and 10 digs.

Sassin and Vogel added their share of double doubles in the Wildcat’s fourth victory of the season. Vogel had 12 kills to go with 15 digs while Sassin added in 10 kills and 18 digs. Katie Reininger added 14 kills for a .423 attacking percentage in the Wildcat’s win

Christine Alftin, Jenelle Jordan and Carmen Annevelink each added 10 kills in the Golden Bears losing effort, who now fall to 3-2.

K-State will wrap up their home tournament with a match against UNLV at 1:30 at Bramlage Coliseum.