For the second time this season, the Kansas State volleyball team finds itself in the cornhusker state, competing in the Omaha Challenge just three weeks after going 1-1 at the Husker Invitational. K-State’s (8-2) first test in Omaha, Nebraska, was preseason Big Sky Conference favorite Weber State (5-5) on Friday afternoon.
Two points separated each set as K-State and Weber State battled to the very end. However, K-State emerged as the victors in four sets: 23-25, 25-23, 25-23 and 25-23. The victory pushed K-State’s win streak to seven matches, its longest since 2018.
“When you get down to those 25-23 types of matches, the difference is in the details,” head coach Suzie Fritz said to K-State Sports. “I thought our serving was exceptional and was probably the difference between winning and losing in that particular match. We found a way to win a lot of the long rallies.”
Sophomore duo outside hitters Aliyah Carter and Jayden Nembhard have continued to shine over the past two matches, with Friday night being the best of the season for the young stars. Both players set season-high kill totals, with Carter leading the way (22) and Nembhard close behind her (20).
Carter also recorded her fifth double-double of the season, hauling in 16 digs to go along with her 22 kills. Junior setter Teana Adams-Kaonohi also put up a double-double effort Friday afternoon, recording a staggering 51 assists along with 13 kills — her third double-double in the past four matches.
“Carter had another good day and Jayden, too, we were pretty good on the left,” Fritz said. “Defensively, I thought we were pretty on task, as well. Probably not our very best effort, but in the end found a way to win.”
Each set came down to the wire as the final score shows, but a first set victory wasn’t in the cards for K-State on Friday. Tying the match for the sixth time in the set at 23-23 after trailing 23-20, K-State couldn’t stave off two straight kills by Weber State and fell in the first set 25-23.
The second set was another battle between the two Wildcat teams, but K-State managed to outpace Weber State in kills, recording six more than WSU. Leading 23-22, K-State got the two final kills they needed from Carter and redshirt junior opposite Holly Bonde to take the set 25-23 — the same score they lost to in the first set.
K-State put together leads of five and six points in the third and fourth sets, respectively, before Weber State would rally and battle off three set/match points. Nembhard put away any dreams of another victory for WSU, though, slamming down the final kills in both sets and winning both 25-23.
K-State held the edge in almost every category in the match, recording more kills (63-50), assists (61-46), digs (86-73) and blocks (8-6) than Weber State. K-State hit at a .240 clip throughout the match, while Weber state finished with a .195 clip.
Next up for K-State is a showdown with the hosts of the Omaha Challenge, the Omaha Mavericks (3-6) at 1 p.m. on Saturday inside Baxter Arena. The match can be streamed on Mavs All-Access.