K-State overcomes slow start to 3-1 win over UMKC

Brynn Carlson had no idea she had recorded her career high in kills.

The freshman outside hitter totaled 15 kills and a .387 hitting percentage, helping Kansas State to a 3-1 (21-25, 25-11, 25-18, 25-18) win over UMKC on Tuesday.

“Everyone, I think, had a good night overall,” Carlson said. “I was getting really good balls from my setters, and we were creating really good opportunities on defense. They were the ones that helped me out, let me play a good game today.”

The Wildcats improved their record to 5-5 and picked up their first win at home, but it didn’t start out that way.

In the first set, UMKC jumped out to a 4-0 lead before K-State tied the game at 7-7. The Roos take the lead again and stretched it to 16-10 before the Wildcats climbed back with a 6-0 run sparked by a Kylee Zumach kill. Neither team held onto momentum for long, but UMKC eventually took the set, 25-21.

“I thought our preparedness was really poor,” head coach Suzie Fritz said. “I thought our effort was poor. I thought our communication was poor … we were not ready to go to work. Thankfully, they figured out that they were going to have to find another level, and they were able to switch.”

The Wildcats started much sharper in the second set, jumping out to a 12-4 lead thanks to six unanswered points. After a UMKC timeout, K-State stretched its lead to 10 points, taking advantage of UMKC errors before Carlson puts the game away, 25-11.

K-State built a big lead thanks to 10 unanswered points, including three straight service aces by Brooke Smith. The Roos rallied to make it a six-point game at match point, but the Wildcats were able to put them away, 25-18.

The deciding fourth set was tight at first, but K-State used short runs to build up a lead. A kill by Carlson sparked a 4-0 run, and K-State held UMKC at arm’s length to seal the win.

Along with Carlson, Alyssa Schultejans (11) and Zumach (10) finished with double-digit kills. Zumach led the Wildcats in hitting percentage (.455), and Bryna Vogel had nine kills and posted .400 hitting percentage.

“I think our point-scoring after Game 1 was dramatically improved, just in terms of the space we were taking up at the net and what we were getting out of serving,” Fritz said.

Vogel and libero Reilly Killeen recorded 14 digs, and setter Sarah Dixon finished with 25 assists. K-State held UMKC to a .079 team hitting percentage and finished with a .224 percentage of its own.

“I think that’s a great defensive effort, no matter who’s on the other side of the net,” Fritz said. “We were able to serve them into some medium-pass situations and not have to contend with their high-percentage middles as much. But when they were there, I thought they responded to it well.”

Fritz said her team has had to do a lot of in-game learning. That will continue this weekend as the Wildcats head to Nebraska to take on Omaha on Thursday, Nebraska on Friday and Northern Iowa on Saturday.

“I think the most important thing is we have to play with a sense of urgency every time,” Carlson said. “Every single team is going to come out and want to win, and we need to have that exact same mentality. We want to beat people right away, early. There’s a lot of good teams that are going to be at that tournament in Nebraska, so I think it’s a good opportunity to show how much we’ve improved over the season.”

Source: The Mercury

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