MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State made all kinds of history in the five-set photo finish against Texas Tech Wednesday at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats connected a 25-21, 18-25, 23-25, 25-13, 15-11 victory over the Red Raiders on Senior Night.
Elena Baka, one of two seniors for K-State (15-13, 6-9 Big 12), posted a career-high 23 kills and added 13 digs for her tenth double-double performance of the season. The outside hitter collected an ace and seven blocks to end the night with 28 points. Loren Hinkle also inked a double-double, her seventh on the season, with 50 assists and 13 digs. The setter gathered two aces to move her total to 34 on the season. Molly Ramsey also added two aces and 11 digs to the mix.
Libero Mackenzie Morris recorded a career-best 36 digs, the most in a single match for the Wildcats since Dru Kuck in 2019. Middle blocker Sydney Bolding clinched nine blocks while junior Kadye Fernholz added seven stops at the net.
Senior Haley Warner tallied nine kills and six blocks as Aliyah Carter contributed 13 slams to the Cats' 60 total kills. The team found a .208 pace in the match.
Texas Tech (15-13, 4-11 Big 12) was led offensively by senior Reagan Cooper who collected 15 kills (.192). Senior Kenna Sauer posted a double-double performance on 13 kills and 17 digs as did setter Reese Rhodes (51 assists, 15 digs). Libero Maddie Correa inked a career-best 31 digs.
FROM THE HEAD COACH
Head coach Suzie Fritz
Overall thoughts from the match…
"We've been fighting for some level of consistency for some time. We put pressure on defensively and weren't bleeding points anywhere. To hit .208 and have 19 blocks against a really good Texas Tech volleyball team is wonderful. We were able to manage the ups and downs, which felt amazing. I am really proud of them. That is as good as we've played all year and to do that at the end of the year feels great."
On the difference in the match…
"We were good from the service line and disruptive defensively to stretch the lead. We were able to score points in bunches. I am happy that we came out firing in the fifth set and played our best volleyball when it mattered the most. I thought we made really good attacking decisions as well. Loren helped move the ball around. They served a lot to Elena so she would have to pass and wouldn't be able to make a kill. She did both tonight. Elena does a lot of things at a high level and is well-rounded player. Her ball control is great and she keeps us in system."
On the seniors, Haley and Elena…
The impact that they've had is exceptional. They are wonderful volleyball players and also exceptional people. They are kind and thoughtful and good teammates. They gave us everything that they had in their time here at K-State.
FROM THE PLAYERS
Senior outside hitter, Elena Baka
On winning on senior night and her time at K-State…
It was a big night. We showed how strong we are and how we can fight. It showed that we can win in five sets and beat good teams. It made it even more special on senior night. It was awesome and felt good. It has only been a year, but I have loved it here at K-State every second. It feels like yesterday that I came here for the first time. We put in the work every single day and it feels good when it all pays off.
Senior opposite hitter, Haley Warner
On winning on senior night and her time at K-State…
It was awesome to get this win on senior night. I love winning and I think everyone did everything they could for me and Elena. We gave as much as we could for them as well. It was such a bittersweet moment at the end but it was awesome. I am so proud of all of my teammates and especially in the game. I was tearing up. My time at K-State has been amazing. I can't thank them enough for everything they have done. I've made lifelong friends here. The fans have been great and so supportive. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and experience.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Set One – K-State 25, Texas Tech 21
Texas Tech put together a four-point run to take the lead at 8-7 until K-State's three-point spurt cut the train. Hinkle tagged an ace to finish the run.
The Wildcats took a short four-point lead as Fernholz collected a back-to-back block and kill combo. TTU responded with an 8-3 stunt to take the lead at 19-18. Kanas collected two kills and a block assist.
K-State took the 25-21 win on a 5-1 roll at the end, fueled by Warner's kill and block assist.
Kanas tallied four of the Red Raiders' 14 kills (.189) and Sauer donned seven digs.
The Cats posted 16 kills at a .364 efficiency, as Carter and Baka tallied five kills each. Hinkle collected 14 assists.
Set Two – Texas Tech 25, K-State 18
K-State held the lead up to a 7-4 score when Texas Tech used a five-point spurt to take over. O'Brien grabbed two kills. Another 6-1 run helped the visitors build the lead by five.
Carter's two kills tried to push the Cats back, but four straight Red Raider points pushed the team away 19-13. Texas Tech grabbed the 25-18 win on a 6-2 roll at the end of the set.
TTU secured 17 kills at a .302 pace, its best of the match. Cooper led with five kills (.308) while O'Brien and Sauer added four each. Rhodes tallied 14 assists.
The Wildcats collected 13 kills at a .196 clip, led by Carter and Baka (four kills). K-State did not have any aces and only one team block.
Set Three – Texas Tech 25, K-State 23
The third set was anyone's to grab with 17 tie scores and 10 lead changes. The two teams were neck-in-neck until Rhodes' back-to-back aces gave the Red Raiders a one-point advantage.
K-State came back with three points of its own on Bolding's kill and block. The game stayed within two points up until Texas Tech found four straight points on three Wildcat hitting errors.
The Cats fought back to tie the set at 23-23 but more errors turned the favor to TTU taking the 25-23 win.
Sauer led with four kills as Texas Tech combined for ten total slams at a .023 clip. Rhodes notched two aces as Correa collected nine digs.
K-State gathered 11 kills with Carter leading at four kills and an ace. Hinkle also posted an ace, along with ten assists and five digs. Bolding posted four block assists as Fernholz followed with three.
Set Four – K-State 25, Texas Tech 13
K-State came out firing in set four, securing eight consecutive points for an early 9-2 lead. Baka donned three kills in the run. The Wildcats continued the climb on three Shaylee Myers kills.
Texas Tech put together back-to-back points for the first time in the set on Lexie Collins' kill, still trailing 11-20.
The Cats finished the set 25-13 shortly thereafter, finding solace in Warner's block assist and ending kill.
K-State collected 13 kills at an impressive .357 clip, not committing any hitting errors. Baka tallied seven kills and Myers handed in four. Morris found 14 digs in the set.
TTU gathered eight kills at a .020 efficiency, with three Red Raiders with two kills each. Correa notched six digs as the team did not record any blocks or aces.
Set Five – K-State 15, Texas Tech 11
K-State continued to run through the final set. Texas Tech took a couple early leads on kills by Kanas and O'Brien.
The Wildcats then used an 8-3 spurt to build momentum. Bolding tallied two blocks as Baka claimed two kills in the run to put the home side up 12-8.
TTU climbed back within two on kills from Sauer and Kansas, but Baka put the game away with two kills and Ramsey's ace.
The Cats committed just one hitting error, collecting seven kills at a .240 clip. Baka secured four kills in the set as Morris found five digs.
The Red Raiders gained ten kills at a .167 hitting percentage. Cooper inked four slams while Kanas followed with three. Rhodes donned ten assists and four digs.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- K-State swung at a .208 pace with 60 kills and 19 blocks.
- Baka led with 23 kills (.322), a career best.
- She added 13 digs for her tenth double-double.
- Carter collected 13 kills and seven digs.
- Warner added nine kills while Bolding handed in six.
- Bolding led with nine blocks (eight assists, one solo) for the most of any 5-set match in the conference.
- Fernholz chipped in seven block assists.
- Morris' 36 digs tied for most in a single match of any Big 12 team this season.
- Hinkle donned her seventh double-double on 50 assists and 13 digs.
- Hinkle, Morris and Ramsey posted two aces each.
- Texas Tech secured 59 kills at a .133 clip with seven blocks.
- Cooper led with 15 kills (.192).
- Sauer notched a double-double with 13 kills and 17 digs.
- Kanas adds 11 kills and a team-best four block assists.
- Rhodes collects three aces, 51 assists and 15 digs.
- Correa posted a career-high 31 digs.
- K-State holds a 43-15 lead in the all-time series with Texas Tech, dating back to 1982.
- The Wildcats are 24-3 at home versus Texas Tech while head coach Suzie Fritz is 35-9 in her 22-year career against the Red Raiders.
- The Cats have split the season series with TTU 11 times in the series history.
- 19 team blocks is the most for the program since 2017 (19 at Texas Tech) and is the second highest output of any Big 12 team this season.
- Texas Tech's 102 digs and K-State's 97 digs are the two highest single game totals in the Big 12.
- The Wildcats are 13-2 when hitting at a higher hitting percentage and 12-3 when producing more kills than their opponents.
- Additionally, the Cats are 13-1 when they have limited their opponents to a hitting efficiency under .200.
Kansas State finishes the regular season at Baylor for its Big 12 conference finale. The Wildcats and the Bearcats face off at 1 p.m. at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas, on Saturday, November 26. The conference contest will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ and Rob Voelker will be on the call online at K-StateSports.com/watch and the K-State Sports app.