Volleyball struggles in conference-opening weekend against No. 10 Baylor

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Junior middle blocker Sydney Bolding looks to finish off the Wildcat attack with a kill against Baylor on Sunday afternoon. K-State fell to Baylor 3-0 on Saturday and Sunday over the weekend. (Madison Riebel | Collegian Media Group).

If there has been any kryptonite for this year’s Kansas State volleyball team, it would have to be ranked opponents. Following Saturday (25-16, 25-21, 25-17) and Sunday’s (25-22, 25-17, 25-15) 3-0 losses to No. 10 ranked Baylor (7-3, 2-0) at Bramlage Coliseum, the Wildcats dropped to 9-4 on the season and 0-2 in Big 12 play, with all four losses coming against top 25 teams.

The good news? For the moment, K-State won’t have to play another ranked team until Nov. 18, when they travel to Austin, Texas, for a showdown with the current No. 1 ranked team in the nation — Texas.

It’s hard to overlook the struggles K-State has had against quality opponents so far, only having two victories over teams with winning records this season (Loyola Chicago and Fresno State) up to this point. K-State has also only taken one set against the four ranked opponents it has played this season, taking one against then No. 5 ranked Nebraska a month ago.

Even with the losses and disappointment this weekend, head coach Suzie Fritz said she knows this team can improve.

“I think it’s okay that we’re disappointed,” Fritz said to K-State Athletics. “I think it’s okay that we’re frustrated. We want to play better and want more out of our team and that our team wants more out of themselves. I think that’s okay. I would be disappointed if we weren’t disappointed because I think we’re capable of better.”

Saturday’s loss to Baylor was the tougher one of the two for the Wildcats to swallow, especially after riding an eight-match winning streak heading into the contest. The match was without a doubt a low point this season in terms of statistical success for K-State.

Not only was K-State held to a season-low hitting percentage (.150) on Saturday, the Wildcats also racked up a season-high 22 attack errors and a season-low two blocks. It was also the first match K-State was held without a service ace this season. Baylor’s Avery Skinner and Yossiana Pressley showed why they were voted unanimously to the preseason All-Big 12 Team, racking up 56 of the 86 total kills over the weekend for the Bears.

A bright spot for the Wildcats over the weekend was sophomore outside hitter Aliyah Carter. Carter racked up her seventh double-double of the season on Saturday, recording 14 kills and 10 digs — the only Wildcat to break double-figures in the 3-0 loss.

K-State still fought and clawed in the match on Saturday, pushing the deficit to just one point midway through the first and third sets before Baylor took things over. In the second set, K-State even managed to hold onto a two-point lead at 14-12. However, just like in the first and third sets, the Bears proved too much even while trailing.

Carter returned on Sunday for another quality performance on the offensive end, putting away 18 kills — her fourth-best performance of the season.

Other than the first set being just a 25-22 loss for K-State on Sunday, the rest of the match was not as close. K-State went backward after starting out the match in decent fashion, falling in sets two (25-17) and three (25-15).

The Wildcats improved in almost every statistical category on Sunday, hitting at a .202 clip after recording a season-low on Saturday. Unfortunately, Baylor also improved in almost every category on Sunday, upping its hitting percentage from .350 to .398.

Next up for K-State is an easier task to handle against Oklahoma, the only team in the Big 12 with a losing record at the moment. The Sooners sit at 6-7 and 0-2 in the conference. The Wildcats will travel down to Norman, Oklahoma for the two-game series with the Sooners on Friday, Oct. 1, and Saturday, Oct. 2.

Friday’s match is set to start at 5 p.m., and Saturday’s at 4 p.m. Each match will be played at McCasland Field House and will air on Bally Sports Oklahoma, with radio coverage through 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!