A Husker Invitational, a Gaucho Invitational, and now finally a Wildcat Invitational. The Kansas State volleyball team (4-2) waited nearly two weeks for their first opportunity to play at home, and with the performance the Wildcats put on, it was well worth the wait.
Taking on the winless Ohio Bobcats (0-7) in the final match of the first day of the Wildcat Invitational on Thursday evening, K-State breezed past Ohio in three sets (25-16, 25-23, 25-18). The 3-0 victory marked the first time this season K-State has swept an opponent after coming close in the 3-1 victories over San Diego State and Colgate earlier this season.
Sophomore outside hitter Aliyah Carter led the way for the Wildcats, hitting at a .304 efficiency and earning 11 kills, two aces and seven digs on the night. Carter helped the team finish with an overall .256 hitting efficiency on the night, recording 34 total kills on 86 attacks with only 12 errors.
While K-State seemed to click in the first and third sets — winning each handily — the Wildcats had troubles in the second set. Both teams battled and never led by more than a margin of four points in that second set.
K-State managed to fall behind 23-21 late in the second set, and it seemed like the Wildcats might miss out on yet another sweep this season and give Ohio their first set victory since Sept. 3. Even with their backs against the wall, the Wildcats fought their way back to a set victory thanks to the heroics of Carter.
After putting down her eighth kill of the match, the ball was put in her hands to serve — and she delivered. Carter recorded an ace on the very next serve to tie the match at 23 before helping the Wildcats score two more points off her serves to give K-State a 25-23 set two victory.
“They have pretty good composure,” head coach Suzie Fritz said to K-State Sports. “They don’t get too terribly rattled. I think we were down three or four points in almost every game, and I think their confidence is pretty good. Their composure is pretty good. They understand if they just take care of the ball a little better and take care of their side that they’ll have opportunities to win and score.”
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One of the kills in the final moments of the second set came from redshirt junior opposite Holly Bonde, who had a stellar night behind Carter, recording eight kills and one error off of 17 attacks for a .412 clip. That clip was a season-best for the redshirt junior out of Minooka, Illinois.
Just like in the first set, K-State went up early in the third set and never really looked back. The Wildcats scored four out of the final five points in the third set, with sophomore middle blocker Kadye Fernholz and sophomore opposite Tessa Mati capping off the match with a tandem block.
Fernholz finished with five kills, three blocks and three digs, while Mati, a native of Grosseto, Italy, finished with one kill and one block.
K-State continues in the Wildcat Invitational throughout the weekend, taking on Loyola Chicago at 6:30 p.m. on Friday before finishing off the invitational against Fresno State at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Both matches will be streamed live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.