Volleyball takes two-out-of-three in Gaucho Invitational

Wildcat Aliyah Carter hits the ball up during the March 14, 2021 volleyball game against Saint Louis University. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State volleyball team traveled to Santa Barbara, California, this past weekend to participate in the Gaucho Invitational against No. 21 Pepperdine, UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State.

The Wildcats matched up against Pepperdine (4-0) on Friday, where K-State fought a valiant effort but ultimately falling to the 21st ranked team in the country in straight sets 22-25, 30-32, 22-25.

Sophomore Aliyah Carter led the Wildcats in kills with 12 while finishing second on the team in digs with nine, behind sophomore libero Mackenzie Morris who had 10.

Despite a strong showing, the Wildcats hurt themselves with service errors throughout the match, finishing with 14 over three sets.

“We hurt ourselves, really, with too many service errors,” head coach Suzie Fritz said to K-State Athletics. “We played so clean in transition last weekend, and we were feeling pretty good about that phase. But today, unfortunately, that phase was not locked up. It really cost us.”

K-State bounced back on Saturday in a pair of thrilling games against UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State.

The Cats came out strong against UCSB, winning the first two sets 25-22 and 25-23. The Gauchos returned fire and took the next two sets, 25-20 and 25-23.

With the final set capped at 15, every point mattered, and K-State made sure to stay on top throughout. The Wildcats never trailed in the final set, leading by as many as four at 12-8 and going on to win the final set 15-13.

Carter again led the team in kills, picking up her second 20-kill game of the season and the eighth of her career. She was followed closely by senior opposite hitter Haley Warner who added a career-best 19 kills.

The K-State defense was led by Morris — who had 20 digs and four service aces — and sophomore middle blocker Kadye Fernholz, who led the team with six blocks.

In the final match of the Gaucho Invitational against San Diego State, the Wildcats kept their momentum from earlier in the day, beating the Aztecs in four sets.

Warner dominated the match early on, leading the ‘Cats in kills and finishing with 18 for the match.

K-State won the first set 25-19, but the Aztecs evened the score in the second set, winning 25-18.

After winning the third set, the Wildcats had a strong start in the fourth set, taking an early 11-4 lead. They went on to win the fourth and final set 25-16, finishing the weekend with two wins and a loss.

The Wildcats (3-2) return home for the K-State Invitational, where they’ll face off against Ohio, Loyola Chicago and Fresno State from Sept. 9 to 11 at Bramlage Coliseum. The first match against Ohio starts at 7 P.M. on Thursday.