K-State extends losing streak to Iowa State in first match of weekend series

Sophomore defensive specialist Dru Kuck (center) records a dig while redshirt junior Jacque Smith (right) and freshman Mackenzie Morris (left) look on in K-State's match against Iowa State on Friday night at Bramlage Coliseum. (Jordan Hennington | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State volleyball team lost to Iowa State in five sets on Friday, extending its losing streak against the Cyclones to eight matches. Iowa State won the match 25-22, 25-20, 19-25, 18-25, 16-14.

The Wildcats last beat ISU in 2016 at home. The loss makes the streak the team’s longest losing streak against any team in the Big 12 era.

Although the Wildcats lost, K-State pushed the match to a decisive fifth set. In the first set, the Wildcats took an early 3-0 lead. However, a series of unforced hitting and receiving errors mid-set doomed K-State, playing from behind the rest of the set.

Iowa State remained on top because of K-State’s early unforced errors and a few points that could’ve gone to either team.

K-State head coach Suzie Fritz said she felt like the Wildcats were in the thick of things until the very end.

“If we can just start playing better a little bit sooner, then that’s our best chance,” Fritz said. “Being able to be down two and come back and put ourselves in a position to win the match is very, very difficult in this league. So with that part, we are finding some moral victories. That shows a lot of what’s inside of them [her players].”

In total, the Cyclones bring back five starters and 13 letter-winners from last season. Even with the Cyclones’ experience, the Wildcats felt like they possess what it takes to take the second match of the series on Saturday.

“I don’t see us as a mature volleyball team yet, but I feel like we’ve made up a lot of ground,” Fritz said. “I think this team can be pretty special. . . there was enough really positive things that I think, if we put a few pieces together, then by the end of this thing we’ll be doing some special things.”

At the end of the match, redshirt junior Brynn Carlson led the Wildcats with 19 kills on 47 attempts. She hit .298 for the match. Freshman Aliyah Carter also impacted the game in her debut, tallying 14 kills on 48 attempts. Carter, however, also tallied a team-high eight hitting errors to go along with a single reception error.

Freshman Mackenzie Morris led K-State with 15 digs.

As a team, K-State led most categories for the match, yet still came up short. They led the match in kills (68-56), hitting percentage (.267-.214), assists (63-54) and digs (76-71).

“This is a team, that can get a lot better in a short amount of time,” Fritz said. “They want to be great.”

For Iowa State, Eleanor Holthaus tallied 17 kills to pace the team offensively. Izzy Enna led the team defensively with 17 digs.

The Wildcats play Iowa State in a second match at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.