Volleyball sweeps Missouri in rivalry renewal

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Sophomore Mackenzie Morris makes her presence known during the match against Ohio on Sept. 9, 2021. The Wildcats took down the Bobcats 3-0. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State-Missouri rivalry dates all the way back to 1974. However, in 2011, the annual meeting between the conference rivals went dormant, ending with a five-set K-State victory on Oct. 26, 2011. Now, nearly 10 years later, K-State (7-2) and Missouri (2-8) renewed their annual matchup after the Wildcats traveled to Columbia, Missouri, on Tuesday afternoon.

The afternoon matinee meeting was nowhere near as close as that previous matchup in 2011, as K-State earned an easy three-set sweep over the Tigers, 25-23, 25-20 and 25-20.

While not the prettiest game the Wildcats have played all year, solid play from sophomore outside hitters Jayden Nembhard and Aliyah Carter paved the way for a K-State victory.

After starting the first five games with zero double-digit kill efforts, Nembhard has slowly found her rhythm, recording season highs in her past two matches. Tuesday afternoon saw Nembhard record 17 kills, leading the team at a .324 clip.

Right on her tail was Carter with 16 kills and a .433 clip while also tying for the most block assists on the team, picking up five on the day. Junior setter Teana Adams-Kaonohi also had a solid day for the Wildcats, racking up a double-double with 35 assists and 11 digs.

“I thought the connection between Teana and Jayden and Aliyah tonight felt really good,” head coach Suzie Fritz said to K-State Sports. “So when we are in system, it felt as it should be. But then, when we were out of system, I thought they did a nice of not hurting themselves and managing their swings. When you can generate kill production when you’re out of system, you can be pretty hard to stop.”

K-State and Missouri battled back and forth in the first set, proving the tightest set of the match with 13 ties and two lead changes — the most out of any other set. After trailing 15-14 early on, the Wildcats scored seven of the next nine points to push the lead to 21-17.

Missouri continued to make things interesting, fighting off three straight set points to make the score 24-23 late. However, K-State finished things off with a kill from Nembhard to give the Wildcats the first set 25-23. Carter (6), Nembhard (5) and senior opposite Haley Warner (4) recorded 15 of K-State’s 16 kills in the first set, helping the offense to a .375 clip — the highest by either team in the match.

The second set saw just one lead change and one tie as K-State came back from an early 5-2 deficit to make it 10-9 midway through the second set. The set was close the rest of the way as Missouri tailed K-State throughout the second.

After reaching a 19-18 score, K-State closed the second set with a 6-2 run, winning 25-20. Nembhard hummed at a .500 clip in the second set, recording seven of her 17 total kills in that set.

Both teams had their worst hitting performances in the third set. K-State had 13 kills and nine errors on 35 attacks for a .114 clip, while Missouri had just seven kills and seven errors on 37 attacks for a goose egg in the final set. Despite the poor performance, K-State never trailed in the third set, winning 25-20.

Overall, the Wildcats hit at a .284 efficiency with 46 kills and 17 errors on 102 attacks, holding Missouri to a .140 clip with 32 kills and 18 errors on 100 attacks.

K-State has now won six straight matches heading into their final non-conference tests of the season this weekend. Those tests are set for Friday and Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska, taking on Weber State (5-3) and Omaha (2-6), respectively.

Both matches will be streamed on Mavs All-Access and can be heard on KMAN radio.

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Hey! I’m Cameron Bradley and I am the sports editor for the Collegian! I am a junior from Wichita, Kansas, and I am majoring in journalism. When I’m not working for the Collegian, I’m creating content and putting on broadcasts with K-StateHD.TV. I am also currently a member of the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. I love sports, spending time with friends, family and doing everything that I do for the glory of God!