Volleyball splits weekend series with Oklahoma

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Sophomore Kayley Hollywood taps the ball over the net during the March 14, 2021 volleyball game against Saint Louis University. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State volleyball team has struggled in Norman, Oklahoma, as of late, with their previous victory at McCasland Field House coming back in 2017. After Friday’s 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 23-25, 20-25) loss to the Sooners (7-8, 1-3 Big 12) it seemed like that streak might continue. However, a 3-1 (19-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-16) victory on Saturday afternoon helped K-State (10-5, 1-3 Big 12) break that streak, as well as a three-game skid over the past week.

After arguably two of its worst losses of the year this past week against No. 9 Baylor (8-4, 3-1 Big 12), K-State needed a solid weekend against bottom of the Big 12 Oklahoma to regain some confidence. That didn’t happen on Friday night.

It was a tight affair early in the first match between the Wildcats and Sooners on Friday, with K-State managing to break a 21-21 score late and take the first set by a score of 25-23. It was tough sledding from then on.

K-State dropped the next three sets and was held to under a .200 hitting percentage for the fourth time this season. That can be credited to Oklahoma’s stellar defensive effort on Friday, recording 12 blocks against the Wildcats.

“I think we are better than we played, and I think we let an opportunity get away from us,” head coach Suzie Fritz said after the loss. “Road matches are hard in the Big 12, everybody’s good, and it gets tougher when you go on the road. We’ve got to coach them better, have them better prepared and they’ve got to get themselves better prepared.”

Two players led the way for K-State with double-digit kills, with the usual suspect Aliyah Carter tallying 16 kills and Sydney Bolding recording a season-high 12 kills and four blocks.

It seemed like Friday’s match may spill into Saturday as K-State dropped the first set by a score of 25-19. Redshirt junior Holly Bonde was not going to let the Wildcats drop its fourth straight match, though.

Bonde put together arguably the best match of her career, recording her first-ever 20-kill match Saturday afternoon, throwing down 20 kills and four blocks on top of that. She was a big part of K-State’s set two (25-22), three (25-19) and four victories (25-16).

“I told [Bonde] after the game she was like a unicorn,” Fritz said. “Holly was just having one of those days where she was seeing things really well, making great hitting choices with the ball, staying really high and getting good deflections off the block. She was terrific.”

Carter followed Bonde’s performance with 15 kills, one block and one of K-State’s seven aces on the day. Sophomore Kadye Fernholz was a big part of the seven service aces, recording a career-high four on Saturday to go along with her nine kills.

The Wildcats also turned the tables on Oklahoma on Saturday in terms of defensive effort, out-blocking the Sooners 10-8.

The victory on Saturday is K-State’s first Big 12 victory of the season going into its bye week. The Wildcat’s next match will come on Thursday, Oct. 14 against West Virginia (12-3, 2-2 Big 12), who is coming off being swept by No. 1 Texas (11-0, 2-0 Big 12) in its weekend series with the Longhorns.

That match will be the start of a two-match series with the Mountaineers concluding on Friday, Oct. 15. Thursday’s match will be broadcasted live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 p.m.

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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!