Volleyball falls short of comeback to No. 14 Kansas in first of two matches

Libero Mackenzie Morris records a dig against Cincinnati on Sept. 30 at Morgan Family Arena. Morris recorded a game-high 34 digs against the Kansas Jayhawks in the first Sunflower Showdown match. (Madison Riebel | Collegian Media Group)

In an intense match, Kansas State volleyball fell in the Sunflower Showdown in a five-set battle against Kansas. The Wildcats came back after losing the first sets but couldn’t complete the comeback.

The first set a tough beginning for K-State. The Jayhawks quickly went up 8-2 and never gave up the lead. The Wildcats came within one once but fell in the set 25-16 with Jayhawks opposite hitter London Davis scoring six of her 28 kills on the night.

The Wildcats bounced back in the second set but still failed to pull through. Outside hitter Aliyah Carter dominated with seven of her 24 kills on the night in the set. The Wildcats’ largest lead in the set stood at 19-11, but the Jayhawks took 14 of the final 18 points to go up 2-0 with a 25-23 set win.

K-State finally took a set with their backs against the wall. Up 12-11, the Wildcats slammed six straight points to take a 18-11 lead. Even with a second comeback attempt from the Jayhawks, K-State held strong, winning the set 25-20 as outside hitter Aniya Clinton scored seven set kills followed by Carter with six.

The Wildcat comeback did not stop after Set 3. The fourth set featured back-and-forth with neither team budging. K-State eventually took over, winning six straight points after the score tied at 19. The Wildcats took the match into the final set as Carter and middle blocker Sydney Bolding each secured five set kills.

Just needing 15 points, the final set stayed closed but Kansas ended as the victor. The set was tied 11-11 before K-State suffered three attack errors to fall 15-12.

Even in the loss, the Wildcats had multiple players shine. Carter, Clinton and Bolding all reached double-digit kills. Carter added on 14 digs to join setter Izzi Szulczewski as Wildcats with double-doubles. Szulczewski compiled 14 digs with a match-high 51 assists, and libero Mackenzie Morris also had a match-high stat with 34 digs.

The Wildcats will have a chance to even the season series at 3:30 Saturday.