K-State (9-2) has won four of its last five games after sweeping Kansas City on Wednesday. Saturday’s game with the Bluejays will be the Wildcats’ first ranked game of the season.
The Cats rank among the nation’s leaders in service aces, with a total of 817 aces ranking third nationally and leading the Big 12. Four players find themselves in the league’s top 10 in aces per set: Sydney Bolding (Fourth), Elena Baka (fifth), Loren Hinkle (eighth) and mackenzie morris (ninth).
Fans can watch Friday’s contest on YouTube while Rob Voelker will be on call for both matches on K-StateSports.com/watch and through the K-State Sports app.
K-STATE (9-2, 0-0 BIG 12) at RICE (8-1, 0-0 C-USA)
Friday, September 16 // 6 p.m. // Tudor Fieldhouse // Houston, Texas
Listen: K-StateSports.com/watch // 1350KMAN.com
K-STATE (9-2, 0-0 BIG 12) vs. No. 17 CREIGHTON (7-2, 0-0 BIG EAST)
Saturday, September 17 // 2 p.m. // Tudor Fieldhouse // Houston, Texas
Listen: K-StateSports.com/watch // 1350KMAN.com
K-STATE AT A GLANCE
- K-State is entering its final weekend of non-conference play at the Rice Adidas Invitational hosted by the Rice Owls.
- While in Houston, the Wildcats take on No. 17 Creighton on Friday before finishing with host Owls, who are receiving votes in the AVCA’s latest top 25.
- The Cats started the week with a sweep at Kansas City on Wednesday night as they earned their first real road win of the season.
- In the win over the Roos, the K-State defense totaled 15 blocks and held KC to .018 hitting efficiency.
- Elena Baka led the offense with 10 kills and Haley Warner reached a season high of .455 while registering six kills.
- Sydney Bolding matched her career-best effort and set a season high with eight blocks, as seven players finished with multiple tricks.
- The Wildcats went 3-1 last week after securing a five-set home win over Missouri before winning two of three Rambler Challenge games over the weekend.
- K-State swept both Rutgers and St. Thomas while dropping a four-set decision against host Loyola Chicago.
- Bold and mackenzie morris both earned All-Tournament Team accolades, each earning their second honor of the season.
- Bolding led K-State in blocks (14) and aces (5), as she matched her career high with four service aces against St. Thomas – all in the game’s opening set.
- Morris recorded 48 digs in 10 sets (4.80 per set) to lead the back row and extended his streak to 10 straight outings with 10 or more digs to start the season.
- A different player led the Cats in wins in all three games at the Rambler Challenge.
- Aliyah Carter had a team best 13 against Rutgers, Bolding finished with 11 against Loyola and Baka and Shaylee Myers recorded 11 against St. Thomas.
- Bold move. 391 at the Ramblers and Myers hit .474 against the Tommies.
- With the pair of sweeps last weekend, K-State improved to 5-0 in three-set matches, surpassing last season’s three-game winning streak.
SCOUTING The Field
- Rice is on a four-game winning streak and has only suffered one loss this season, at 8-1.
- The Owls’ only loss came to Oregon, then ranked 17th, in five sets.
- Danyle Courtley paces Rice’s offensive attack with 102 kills (3.09 per set) while Nia McCardell leads the back row with 180 digs (5.45 per set).
- The Owls allow teams to hit just .145 against them, averaging 18.00 digs per set and 1.88 blocks per set.
- Creighton goes into the weekend 7-2, with its only two losses against teams ranked in the top 25 in the nation (No. 16 Kentucky, No. 2 Nebraska).
- The Bluejays are 1-2 against ranked teams this season, earning a four-set victory over then-ranked 25th-ranked USC at home.
- CU’s last three games have all come in five sets (2-1).
- Norah Sis leads Creighton’s offense with 154 kills and 4.16 kills per set.
- Keeley Davis is next on the team with 2.76 kills per set with a team-leading 14 aces.
IN THE SERIES
- K-State and Rice will meet for the first time since 1996, with the Wildcats winning the previous five matchups in the series.
- Friday’s game will be the second road meeting in series history after the Wildcats swept the Owls last in 1996.
- The Cats have an 8-4 all-time series advantage over Creighton.
- The last meeting was in the modified 2020-21 season, with the Wildcats winning a four-set decision at home to a then-top-25 team in Creighton on March 20, 2021.
- K-State has won eight of the last nine against CU and this will be the first neutral site meeting of the series.
- In his career, head coach Suzie Fritz is 9-0 against Conference USA teams and 6-2 against the Big East.
VERSUS. RANKED OPPONENTS
- Saturday’s matchup against No. 17 Creighton will mark the Wildcats’ first ranked opponent this season.
- A season ago, K-State went 0-6 against teams ranked in the AVCA’s top 25, including five games against the top five in the nation.
- The Cats’ last ranked victory was against Creighton, who was ranked No. 24 when they met in the 2020-21 season (March 20, 2021) when K-State won 3-1.
- The win over the Bluejays was the team’s first non-conference ranked win since the 2016 season.
- K-State last beat a ranked opponent at a neutral site in 2012, a straight-set win over No. 20 Dayton.
- The Cats are 0-6 against a 17th-ranked opponent, with the last meeting being in 2010 (Florida State).
ACES OF SPADES
- K-State has amassed 87 service aces, which tops the Big 12 and ranks third nationally.
- Additionally, the team’s 2.18 aces per set average is 18th nationally and best in the conference.
- Elena Baka is the team leader with 19 aces to rank second in the Big 12 and 17th in the nation while by Sydney Bolding 18 aces are third in the league and 28th in the nation.
- Baka has recorded multiple aces six times this season while Bolding has produced a career-best four aces twice this season.
- The Cats have eclipsed the 10 aces mark five times, including in back-to-back UCF Challenge games with 11 against Syracuse and a season-high 12 against North Florida.
- The 12 aces were the most in a three-set match since the 2007 season and tied for fourth in the rally scoring era.
- It was the first time K-State had produced consecutive games with at least 10 aces since 2007.
- Last season, K-State finished with 10 or more aces just twice.
- Additionally, five games with 10 or more aces is the highest since a record seven games in 2007.
- Currently, four Wildcats make up the league’s top 10 for aces per inning: Bolding (fourth), Baka (fifth), Hinkle (eighth), and Morris (ninth).
- Senior transfer Elena Baka had an immediate impact through 11 games with the Wildcats.
- Playing six rotations, Baka leads the team in total eliminations with 122 while hitting .208 efficiency with a team-best 19 aces.
- The transfer from Saint Mary’s set a career high with 19 kills against UCF en route to his second straight All-Tournament team selection.
- She has three double-doubles this season, including 16 kills and a career-high 17 digs against Mizzou last Wednesday.
- Her 19 aces are the best in the Big 12, as she has served multiple aces six times – including in each of K-State’s first five contests.
- Senior Medium Blocker Sydney Bolding got off to a fast start for K-State in 2022, hitting .337 and averaging 1.97 kills per set with 1.38 blocks per set and 18 aces.
- Bolding has produced four aces twice in the past five games, including four against Missouri and four in the opening set against St. Thomas on Saturday.
- The four aces was a career high, as she has five games with multiple aces this season (two such games last season).
- She was named to the Rambler Challenge All-Tournament Team, her second All-Tournament Team selection after also being voted to the K-State Invitational All-Tournament Team.
- Bolding, who missed the first three weeks of the 2021 season with an injury, had a record eight blocks against Kansas City on Wednesday.
- The Pickens, South Carolina product has eclipsed double-digit wins three times this season and hit .350 or better four times.
- Against NC State, she set a career high with 13 eliminations while totaling seven blocks.
- The Wildcats held opponents to a .145 combined hit percentage on the season — second best in the Big 12 and 20th best in the nation — and held opponents under .200 efficiency in eight of 11 games.
- K-State held the Roos to a 0.018 team hitting percentage on Wednesday, forcing them to negative efficiency in each of the first two sets.
- UCF’s .268 team efficiency is the high water mark for any K-State opponent this season.
- In the opening weekend of the season, K-State limited its opponents to a combined percentage of .049.
- The Cats held Florida A&M to -.041 team efficiency as they forced the Rattlers to 21 errors while allowing just 18 kills.
- Behind 17.5 blocks, the Wildcats held NC State to a team efficiency of .058 as the block total tied for fourth in program history in a four-set match at the rally score era.
- The 17.5 blocks also topped K-State’s season high from last season, while five players completed at least four blocks against the Wolfpack.
- mackenzie morris set a career high with 25 digs against UCF for his first 20 digs outing of the season and 13th of his career.
- It was the first 25-hole performance by a Wildcat since the 2019 season (Dru Kuck).