Volleyball splits series with West Virginia in return to action

Junior Teana Adams-Kaonohi and sophomore Aliyah Carter celebrate a point during K-State's 3-1 victory over West Virginia on Oct. 14 2021 at Bramlage Coliseum. (Elizabeth Sandstrom | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State volleyball team returned to action this past Thursday and Friday after a week-long break from the court where the Wildcats (11-6, 2-4 Big 12) were a disappointing 1-3 to start Big 12 play. The team’s opponent coming out of its break? West Virginia (13-4, 3-3 Big 12) — a team also coming off of a bye week with a 2-2 start to Big 12 play after sweeping Oklahoma and then being swept by Texas in return.

In their third Big 12 series of the season, the Wildcats again had many ups and downs during the two matches played. K-State earned a 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-16, 25-18) victory in Thursday’s match while dropping its second match 3-0 (25-14, 25-20, 25-22) on Friday.

In Thursday’s match, the Wildcats looked strong as four players reached double-digit kill marks and two recorded double-doubles. Junior Teana Adams-Kaonohi (46 assists, 10 digs) and sophomore Aliyah Carter (18 kills, 16 digs) were the two Wildcats with double-double nights.

This was Carter’s ninth double-double of the season and Adams-Kaonohi’s fourth. Sophomores Jayden Nembhard (14) and Kadye Fernholz (11) each recorded double-digit kills on Thursday, as did redshirt junior Holly Bonde (10).

Not only was the offense firing on all cylinders, but the defense held a strong West Virginia offense at bay, as the Mountaineers hit at just a .117 clip on the night.

“We spent a lot of time over the last week or so just trying to tighten the bolts on our defensive system,” head coach Suzie Fritz said after the match. “I felt I was really, really pleased with holding a veteran West Virginia team to (.117). So it felt like the work that we invested in it, the time that we put into it paid off going into the next one, and that’s always a good feeling.”

Friday’s match was the exact opposite for the Wildcats as the Mountaineers showed why they lead the Big 12 in opponent hitting percentage. After recording a .219 clip on Thursday, the Wildcats were held to a porous .072 hitting percentage on Friday — a season-low for K-State.

“We were really offensively challenged tonight, uncharacteristically high error, didn’t make great decisions,” Fritz said after Friday’s match. “I didn’t think we handled the ball well enough. I didn’t think our attack choices were good, I just thought there were way too many unforced errors on our part.”

As Fritz mentioned, the 23 errors K-State recorded were uncharacteristically high for the Wildcats, leading to their poor offensive performance.

Even with the poor showing on offense, the Wildcats had a solid night defensively, holding West Virginia to a .146 clip on Friday night — just a slightly smaller amount of efficiency compared to Thursday.

That bright spot on defense was amplified by the 12 blocks forced by the Wildcats on Friday, the 10th time this year K-State forced double-digit blocks. Carter dominated the floor once again, recording a career-high six blocks along with 14 kills.

K-State won’t have a long time to mourn Friday’s loss, as the Wildcats hit the road on Thursday and Friday this week, taking on TCU. Luckily for K-State, the Horned Frogs are currently sitting at the bottom of the Big 12 with a 7-9 overall record and a 1-5 record in the Big 12.

Thursday and Friday’s matches will tip-off at 6:30 p.m. at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. Both matches will be broadcasted live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

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!