The Kansas State volleyball team traveled to Austin, Texas, this week to take on the No. 2 team in the nation, the Texas Longhorns, a team that K-State almost took down this past season early on in Big 12 play. This time around, though, it wasn’t even close.
Texas (22-1, 13-1 Big 12) dominated K-State (15-10, 6-8 Big 12) in its two-game series on Thursday and Friday, as K-State’s closest set loss was a 25-19 first set defeat in Friday’s match. It was a clean sweep for the Longhorns, winning Thursday’s match 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-15), and Friday’s match 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-13).
It has been a less than ideal November for K-State. In four road matches throughout the month, the Wildcats have found just one victory, that being the finale in K-State’s series at Iowa State, winning it 3-0.
While that 3-0 win over the Cyclones was K-State’s first victory at Hilton Coliseum since 2007, the series with Texas loomed large.
In the first match between the two teams on Friday, Texas cruised, winning each set by nine or more points. Hitting at a .398 clip (40 kills, 7 errors, 83 attempts) as a team — equaling a season-high for a K-State opponent — and junior opposite Skylar Fields hitting .448 percent, the Longhorns hardly gave the Wildcats a chance.
K-State’s offense struggled throughout most of the match, hitting at a .099 clip (27 kills, 18 errors, 91 attempts). The usual suspect, sophomore outside hitter Aliyah Carter, still led the way for K-State on Thursday, tallying 10 kills.
Alongside Carter, redshirt junior opposite Holly Bonde also had 10 kills on the night. Both players recorded 20 of K-State’s 27 kills on Thursday.
“I thought Holly Bonde had a good night and I was excited to see her perform well,” head coach Suzie Fritz said to K-State Sports. “She continues to be creative with her swings and find ways to create offense. Her kill production was really good tonight.”
Improvements were made in Friday’s match, and a lot of it had to do with Carter’s performance, putting down a match-high 12 kills to lead all players. Four of those kills came in the first set, where Carter hit at a .800 clip, and the Wildcats burst out to a quick 4-1 lead.
That lead quickly dissolved, but K-State still stuck with the No. 2 ranked team in the land, besting the Longhorns in kills 15-13, and also hitting at a higher percentage (.429) than Texas (.310). It still wasn’t enough to take down the mighty Longhorns, though, as K-State committed four service errors while Texas hit five aces in the first set to take it 25-19.
All the gas seemed to run out of the tank for K-State in that first set, as the Wildcats couldn’t manage the same production in sets two and three, failing to hit over .100 in each frame. That, combined with Texas hitting above .300 in all three sets, led to the Longhorns dominating in sets two and three, 25-16, 25-13.
“Going into the break between games two and three, I felt we were out-working them,” Fritz said to K-State Sports. “We hit really well in game one, but sustainability against [Texas] is difficult. They’re a hard team to side-out against, and we gave up too many points in bunches.”
Overall on Friday, K-State hit at a .156 percentage (35 kills, 20 errors, 96 attempts), while Texas hit at a .360 clip (40 kills, 9 errors, 86 attempts). Fields once again led the way for the Longhorns, along with her teammate Brionne Butler, who both had 10 kills on the night.
K-State will wrap up its regular season with a Thanksgiving weekend edition of the Sunflower Showdown, taking on the Kansas Jayhawks back at home in Bramlage Coliseum on Friday, Nov. 26, and Saturday, Nov. 27. Both matches are set for a 6:30 p.m. first serve and will be broadcasted on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.