Volleyball digs deep for fourth set exhibition win over UMKC

Sophomore Mackenzie Morris celebrates a game winning serve during the Aug. 22 game against University of Missouri-Kansas City at Bramlage Coliseum. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

The Wildcats were led by sophomore Aliyah Carter, who carded a double-double and finished with a match-best 15 kills to go with her 11 digs. Blockers Kadye Fernholz and Haley Warner both added 12 kills each in the win.

Warner led the team with a .455 hit percentage, with Fernholz close behind at .360.

“I think that was the test we would hope it would be from an exhibition perspective, to be able to have to play under the lights and work around those first-match jitters before it actually counts is good,” head coach Suzie Fritz said. “I think [Kansas City] is a good, veteran team with a lot of their people back. … They run some things that are a little different than what we do, so we had to adapt a little bit.”

Fernholz also led the team in blocks with six and Warner with five of her own. The Wildcats had 11 team blocks, holding the Roos to .144 team scoring efficiency.

Redshirt junior middle-blocker Kayley Hollywood finished with five blocks and four kills.

“I felt that we were trying to prioritize some offensive things for this scrimmage, and it wasn’t quite as clean as we would’ve liked it to have been,” Fritz said. “But we did end up siding out about 63 percent, which is right on target with where we think we need to be.”

After the first set, UMKC hit .414 percent. However, the Wildcats weren’t going away easily. The defense turned it on in set two to force the Roos into nine errors — allowing only seven kills and holding the Roos to a .051 hitting percentage.

In set two, the Wildcats raced out to a 13-2 lead thanks to sophomore libero Mackenzie Morris, who started the Wildcat rally with eight straight opening points. Morris finished with a match-high 16 digs on the night.

“I liked the recovery,” Fritz said. “I think anytime you don’t get what you want in the first one and you come back with a higher level of execution. I thought the difference from a technical perspective was we upgraded pretty significantly serving as the match went on.”

Carter also picked up six kills in the second set, along with three blocks from Fernholz. K-State hit .300 in the set, gaining three kills on seven hits from sophomore Jayden Nembhard.

In the third set, the Wildcats made a three-point run led by Nembhard and junior setter Teana Adams-Kaonohi. Nembhard’s fifth block of the set was immediately followed by a Hollywood block to clinch the set.

K-State held the Roos to a .079 team efficiency score in the third behind four team blocks and 16 digs. Adams-Koanohi claimed six digs while Fernholz stayed productive, carding a pair of blocks.

The Roos attempted a late-match rally late in the fourth set, but the Wildcat defense seemed too much to allow for any advantage in the Roos’ favor.

UMKC went on a 5-1 run and fought off multiple match-point opportunities by the Wildcats to even the score at 24. However, the Wildcat defense was too much for the Roos, and the game was put away off the hand of Morris for an ace to end the fourth set 30-28.

Morris, Carter and Fernholz all carded ace’s throughout Saturday’s match, finishing the day with nine aces total over UMKC’s four. K-State also held the edge in kills, outscoring the Roos 58-47 along with a .243 to .144 advantage in the team’s hitting percentage totals.

Adams-Koanohi finished just short of a double-double after carding 44 assists with nine digs.

Kansas City All-American Melanie Brecka was held to only four kills on 23 attacks, while De’Janae Arnold led the Roos in offense with 12 kills and hitting at .455 percent. Brecka and senior Maddie Renn each added 14 digs to UMKC’s totals.

K-State officially opens the 2021 campaign on Friday, Aug. 27, at the Husker Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Wildcats will face the likes of Colgate, Tulsa and host Nebraska during the two-day tournament.