Cats Rally to Stun Clemson in Home Opener

MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State erased a two-set deficit Thursday night, rallying to defeat Clemson in five sets in the Wildcats’ home opener at Bramlage Coliseum, 16-25, 21-25, 25-20, 25-19, 16-14, on the opening day of the K-State Invitational.

“I thought it was a very poor start for us,” head coach Suzie Fritz said after the match. “Through the first two games, we talked on the bench that if we could just start to play like we are capable of playing, that we would be fine. It just seemed like we were a step behind a little bit early on. I thought we were passing relatively well, but we were having a hard time generating any type of kill production.

“To be down two [sets] and be playing poorly, and then to be able to flip the switch and find yourself a little bit is a maturing process for us. To be able to have that in us will really serve us well as the season wears on.”

K-State (2-2) produced higher hitting efficiencies in each of the final three sets after Clemson (3-1) out-hit the Cats in the opening two frames. K-State finished with a team hitting percentage of .200 while limiting the Tigers to a .159 attacking percentage. Clemson held a 61-54 edge in total kills.

Brynn Carlson led a trio of Wildcats in double-digit kills with 16. Peyton Williams added 13 while hitting a team-best .346 and Gloria Mutiri chipped in 11 kills.

Setter Sarah Dixon registered her fourth straight double-double to begin the season, handing out 42 assists to go with a team-high 16 digs.

The Tigers never trailed in the opening set, producing six more kills (14-8) than the Cats. K-State clawed within a point at 13-12 before Clemson finished the frame on a 12-4 run, including a five-point burst.

Set 2 featured 12 tied scores and six lead changes, as the Cats owned a 21-20 lead before the Tigers ended the set by scoring the final five points to take a two-set lead. Carlson picked up seven of her kills in the second game.

Freshman Anna Dixon came off the bench to spark the Wildcat offense in Set 3, tallying five kills while hitting .308 to lead the Cats in the third. The K-State defense showed up with four team blocks, including three block assists by Dixon, in limiting Clemson to a 0.95 hitting efficiency.

K-State needed just 10 kills to level the match at two sets apiece, as it hit .400 on 20 swings (two errors) the fourth set. The Cats tallied four service aces in the frame, led by freshman libero Dru Kuck with three – including the set-sealing point as the Wildcats finished on a 4-0 run.

Clemson fought off three match points to level the score at 14 before a kill by Mutiri capped the comeback. K-State never trailed in the set while Dixon led the Cats with three kills.

Kuck ended the night with 14 digs while middle blocker Megan Vernon turned in four block assists. Williams had four total blocks (one solo, three assists).

Clemson’s Kaylin Korte had a match-high 17 kills to go with nine digs. Setter Mckenna Slavik dished out 48 assists with 17 digs for a double-double.

Middle blocker Alyssa Deloney led the Tigers with a .318 efficiency, gathering 10 kills on 22 swings with three errors. Brooke Bailey contributed 15 kills to round out four Tigers in double figures.

The Cats continue the K-State Invitational Friday night against Omaha at 7:30 p.m. The match vs. the Mavericks will air on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with live, streaming audio available at K-StateSports.com/watch.
 
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

  • K-State finished with a team efficiency of .200 (54 kills, 22 errors, 160 attacks).
  • Clemson hit .159 as a team (61 kills, 33 errors, 176 attacks).
  • Carlson led K-State in kills for the third time in three matches.
  • Dixon tallied her fourth straight double-double to open the season and now has 24 for her career.
  • Vernon set a career-high with four blocks.
  • Kuck picked up three service aces, all in Set 4.
  • Williams hit better than .300 for the third time this season.

NOTES

  • The match marked the first-ever meeting between K-State and Clemson.
  • Clemson is coached by former Wildcat Michaela Franklin, who played for Fritz and won a Big 12 title in 2003.
  • K-State is now 15-3 in all-time in Bramlage Coliseum.
  • The Wildcats improve to 38-6 at home against non-conference foes since 2010.
  • The Wildcats are 12-3 in their last 12 non-conference matches.
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Source: Kansas State Sports