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Wildcats’ Volleyball Season Ends at NCAA Tournament

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Courtesy of K-State Athletics

LINCOLN, Neb. – K-State’s season came to an end Friday night at Bob Devaney Sport Center, as the Wildcats fell to Florida State in straight sets in the opening round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship, 20-25, 16-25, 17-25.

K-State (15-13) managed 33 kills but committed 24 errors in hitting .077. Conversely, Florida State (20-9) hit .340, carding 39 kills with just seven total errors. Aliyah Carter paced the Wildcats with nine kills while Haley Warner added eight at a team-leading .375 pace.

“Pretty disappointed, I think, and a little frustrated to be honest,” head coach Suzie Fritz said after the match. “I think we are capable of significantly better. We’ve had some consistency issues, up and down and some ebbs and some flows, and I felt all along if we could kind of put it all together at the same time, this team could be pretty special and do some really good things. I think at times we’ve been able to do that this season.

“It’s hard not to be a little bit reflective at this very minute because that’s it, this is one that ends it for that particular group. I have appreciated the work ethic, the investment of time and effort and energy that they’ve put into it. They truly are extraordinary women and still trying to find their way in a lot of ways, but that was not the performance that we had hoped for, and I think we can be better.”

The matched marked the fourth time in which the Cats failed to eclipse the .100 threshold, as the team’s .077 hitting percentage was the second lowest output of the season. K-State’s highest single-set efficiency was the opening set when the offense hit .135.

FSU hit north of .290 in all three frames, including .458 and .306 clips in sets one and two, respectively. The Seminoles were led by middle blocker Emma Clothier, who racked up 11 kills on 18 swings without an error (.611). Sydney Conley hit .571 in putting down eight kills, using 14 attacks without an error.

“I think the biggest difference was they just didn’t hurt themselves,” said Fritz of Florida State. “They hit in, they served it in, they made us play long and we were just too high error. We’re hurting ourselves too much and I thought they were well prepared, very well coached, really handled the serve and pass at a high level, and then just managed the ball and managed the game better.”

K-State got seven kills from Holly Bonde and six kills from Kadye Fernholz, who hit .333.

Bonde hit .400 in putting down five kills in the opening set, but as an offense, K-State hit.135 compared to Florida State’s .458. The Seminoles got five kills on eight swings from Clothier while Conley picked up three on four attacks.

After a kill by Warner that leveled the score at 15, FSU went on a 3-0 run, the longest of either time in the first set, to open an 18-15 advantage. An ace from Carter brought the Cats within two, 20-18, but the Seminoles closed the frame by scoring five of the final seven points.

Carter and Warner each finished with three kills, but the Wildcat offense committed nine attacking errors in recording 14 kills. FSU totaled three blocks in earning a one-set lead.

In the second set, K-State’s managed eight kills while it committed seven errors for an .027 efficiency. Carter led the way with four kills while Fernholz and Warner each chipped in a pair.

FSU’s offense clicked at a .306 pace, tallying 15 kills against four errors. Clothier added three kills to her ledger, improving her stat line to eight kills on 14 swings without an error through two sets (.571). Setter Lily Tessier registered four kills on five attempts.

The Wildcats jumped out to an early 8-4 lead in the second, however, Florida State rattled off four straight points to even the count. Later, the Seminoles scored six unanswered as part of a 12-3 run to open a 16-11 edge.

An early 9-2 Seminole run in set three created a six-point hole for the Cats, 11-5. Down as many as nine, back-to-back aces from Teana Adams-Kaonohi cut the deficit to six at 23-17 before FSU sealed its victory with an ace from Caroline Golden.

Warner logged a team-high three kills in the third while the Cats got two from Bonde, Carter and Fernholz. FSU picked up three blocks to the Wildcats’ one.

K-State finished with just one team block, marking a season low. The tandem block came from Sydney Bolding and Warner.

Adams-Kaonohi handed out 25 assists to go with seven digs. Adams-Kaonohi and Carter each picked up a pair of service aces.

Libero Mackenzie Morris had a team-high nine digs while Carter added eight. Loren Hinkle and Jacque Smith each ended the night with six digs.

The loss extended the Cats’ season-long skid to five matches.

The Wildcats’ season ends with their 18th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament. It marked K-State’s first trip to the postseason since the 2016 and the 13th bid under Fritz.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

  • K-State turned in a .077 hitting percentage (33 kills, 24 errors, 117 attempts).
  • Florida State finished with a .340 efficiency (39 kills, 7 errors, 94 attempts).
  • Carter led the Wildcats with nine kills to go with eight digs.
  • Warner hit a team-best .375 in recording eight kills.
  • Bonde finished with seven kills while Fernholz finished with six.
  • Morris logged a team-leading nine digs.
  • Adams-Kaonohi recorded 25 assists with seven digs.
  • Adams-Kaonohi and Carter both tallied a pair of service aces.
  • K-State registered just one block in the match, a tandem block from Bolding and Warner.
  • The one block marked a season low for the Cats.
  • It was the fourth time this K-State finished with a team hitting efficiency below .100.
  • Florida State was led by Clothier’s 11 kills at a .611 clip.
  • Conley added eight kills while hitting .571.
  • Emery Dupes finished with 11 digs and Morgan Chacon picked up 10.
  • FSU hit better than .290 in each set, with a match-best .458 in the first.
  • This was the sixth time a team hit above .300 against the Cats.

NOTES

  • The all-time series between the team is now split, 2-2, as this was the first meeting since 2010.
  • The matchup marked the first between the teams in the postseason.
  • The Wildcats are 15-18 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 12-6 in the first round.
  • Fritz is 10-13 in her career in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Fritz is 10-9 against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
  • The Wildcats were 3-7 in three-set matches this season.
  • The Cats are now 9-8 in three-set matches all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
  • The five-match losing streak was the Wildcats’ longest of the season.
  • Friday’s match was K-State’s first postseason appearance since the 2016 season.
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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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