By Zach Long
Purple Pride magazine
Manhattan (Kan.)- After one of Kansas State's biggest wins under head volleyball coach Suzie Fritz sent the program to the top of the Big 12 Conference standings, the Wildcats found out how hard it will be to stay there.
K-State had to overcome a 2-1 deficit to defeat Texas in the fifth and deciding game in route to a 3-2 win over the Longhorns (19- 30),30-24,(20-30),30-25,16-14 Wednesday at Ahearn Field House in Manhattan.
Saturday's win at Nebraska, which snapped the Huskers 78-match Big 12 winning streak, became a distant thought as the Longhorns physical front line gave the Wildcats fits.
Kansas State had a hard time finding an answer for Texas junior Bethany Howden. The 6-2 outside hitter had five crucial kills in the match's final game propelling the Longhorns to a 12-10 lead. Howden finished the match with 18 kills after moving to the outside hitter position on the left side for Texas.
"Appears to me she has adapted quite well," Fritz said. Kansas State got a surge of energy from senior Cari Jensen who had three crucial kills down the stretch to bring the Wildcats back for a 16- 14 win. Jensen led the team along with Valeria Hejjas with 22 kills. "We ask her (Jensen) to do so many things well," Fritz said. "She is playing very well. She is adapting to things that we ask her to do."
The Wildcats fell behind early when the Longhorns large front line proved its athleticism. Freshman Jenny Andrews dropped in several soft shots over the heads of Kansas State's front line. The 6-2 setter had 5 dazzling drop shots in the third game, a 30-20 Longhorn win. "Surprisingly, their shear physical size causes us problems," Fritz said. "For a big physical team, they ball controlled very well. Texas is traditionally a team that we do not match up well against."
The Wildcats, who move to 8-1 in Big 12 play and 17-3 overall, will host third place Missouri (13-4,6-2) on Saturday in Manhattan. Fritz hopes to see the Wildcats come out of the gate stronger in that contest. "I wish we would have came out with a little more sense of urgency.
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