CARBONDALE, Ill. – The K-State volleyball team picked up its seventh straight win as well as first place in the Saluki Invitational after beating IPFW 3-1 (25-20, 28-26, 19-25, 25-20) on Saturday at SIU Arena.
Freshman Kylee Zumach and sophomore Brooke Sassin powered the Wildcats (9-1) with 15 and 14 kills, respectively. Sassin earned her second all-tournament honor of the season after she had 49 kills over the tournament’s three matches.
Sassin was joined on the all-tournament team by sophomore Kersten Kober, who paced K-State with 17 digs against IPFW (5-5). Kober had double-digit digs in each match of the tournament.
Redshirt sophomore Katie Brand earned tournament MVP honors after tallying 50 assists, 14 digs and three blocks against the Mastodons. The double-double was Brand’s sixth of the season.
While Sassin had half of her 14 kills in the first set, K-State’s defense came through at important moments to keep the Wildcats in a set that saw 15 ties and seven lead changes. Natali Jones assisted on four blocks, including three early in the set, helping her match her career-high with eight blocks. The fourth by Jones, though, followed up Sassin’s seventh kill and allowed K-State to take its biggest lead at the time, 21-18. Taylor Johnson and Chelsea Keating later sealed the set with a combo block on an attack up the middle.
The Wildcats had to rally on two occasions in the second set, with the first being from a five-point deficit at 17-12. K-State tallied six straight points, including a pair of kills by Zumach, to take its first lead in the second since the early going.
IPFW crawled back, however, building a 23-21 lead after a block and kill by the Mastodons, but the Wildcats failed to give up. They scored three consecutive points, a run capped by Jones’ eighth block of the match. K-State went on to face set point three times, but one of IPFW’s 10 attack errors in the second gave the Wildcats the set, 28-26.
K-State could not solve the IPFW defense in set three as the Mastodons had 6.0 team blocks and held the Wildcats to a .049 hitting percentage. One of the six blocks by the Mastodons gave IPFW set point as K-State had eight attack errors in the third after having 10 errors in the second.
K-State was true on seven of its first nine attempts to open the fourth set, taking a 10-6 lead after Keating hammered in one of her three kills in the set. IPFW overcame the early deficit, though, tying the match at 12-all following one of IPFW’s 19.0 blocks in the match.
A kill by Reininger out of the K-State timeout following the IPFW block ignited a brief 4-1 run that allowed the Wildcats to pull away from the Mastodons. During the spurt, Sassin had an ace, and Zumach piled in a kill. Later, a kill from Zumach brought K-State within match point before an IPFW attack error gave the Wildcats the match.
Following the 3-0 weekend, the Wildcats will now return home for a match in Ahearn Field House on Tuesday, September 16 at 6 pm against South Dakota State.
Brand has been named to an all-tournament team or MVP in each of this year’s in-season tournaments. Brand was named to the all-tournament team in Green Bay and at K-State’s own tournament last weekend.
Sassin and Zumach combined for 95 of K-State’s 167 kills during the Saluki Invitational. Sassin averaged 4.45 kills per set (49 kills/11 sets) while Zumach had 4.18 kills per set (46 kills/11 sets).
Kober averaged 4.64 digs per set throughout the Saluki Invitational, helping the Wildcats total 191 digs in the 11 sets (17.36 digs per set). Kober has 10 or more digs in five straight matches and in seven of the 10 matches overall this season.