MANHATTAN, Kan. (K-State Athletics) – Kansas State put on a show in front of a capacity crowd of 3,044 fans at the inaugural game of Morgan Family Arena on Friday night, as the Wildcats defeated Omaha in straight sets (25-21, 25-23, 25-23).
The Wildcats (4-0) have now won 12 straight sets marking the first 12-1 start since 1978.
Jason Mansfield joins former K-State coach Jim Moore as the only head coaches to lead off their first at the helm of the program 4-0.
Aliyah Carter registered her 17th career double-double with a match-high 14 kills and 10 digs. Carter has produced double figure kills in three of the Wildcats’ four matches this season.
Junior Izzi Szulczewski dished out 25 assists to guide the Cats who hit .179 on the night. K-State totaled 36 kills on 112 swings with 16 errors alongside six aces, 54 digs and 10 blocks. The Wildcats have now produced double digit blocks in three matches.
The Wildcats’ defense held off the Mavs in the home opener as UNO was limited to hit just .080 with 32 kills led by Kali Jurgensmeier. The sophomore outside hitter totaled a match second-best nine kills on 32 attempts to hit .094 while Amanda Hardt led with a .250 attack percentage.
Omaha’s (0-4) setters Ivy Leuck and Olivia Curry combined for 25 assists to guide the Mavs 6-2 offense while Erica Fava had four service aces followed by Shayla McCormick with three.
Defensively, McCormick and Fava each tallied 11 digs with three Mavericks earning a pair of blocks.
Set One – K-State 25, Omaha 21
K-State led for the entirety of the opening set and raced to a 7-4 lead to start led by a pair of kills from Kadye Fernholz. K-State recorded back-to-back points led by Loren Hinkle’s service ace before Szulczewski caused havoc at the net with her first solo block of the season.
Carter led with five kills on 11 attempts while Liz Gregorski contributed four as the team totaled 13 (.194).
Jurgensmeier tallied four for the Mavs to hit .375 while McCormick registered a pair of aces.
Set Two – K-State 25, Omaha 23
The Mavs rallied in the second set with a 7-3 lead behind three kills from Amanda Hardt. K-State recorded back-to-back blocks from Myers and Sydney Bolding before a 6-3 run leveled the score. Carter delivered the final blow as the sophomore recorded the team’s 12th kill of the set.
The Wildcats recorded five blocks led by Myers in the set as the defense held the Mavs to hit just .073 in the second.
Set Three – K-State 25, Omaha 23
Down 16-10, the Wildcats collected a successful 9-3 run to level the set at 19-all until Carter’s 14th kill put the Wildcats on top for just the time in the set. After two lead changes, a kill for Myers brought K-State to set point until an attack error led the Wildcats to their 12th straight set win.
Carter hit .400 in the set with five kills followed by Myers with three as the Wildcats hit a match-high .235 in the third set.
IN THEIR WORDS
Head Coach Jason Mansfield
On opening day…
“Oh, I think it was great. I don’t think the day was too much. I think we were very excited for this day to come. I thought it was really tasteful, everything that was done, and the right people got thanked. And we appreciate them for what they’ve done. Just the excitement of the match. You never know what it’s going to be like, and you hope people come but you don’t know what it’s going to be like when they come. Not every place is like this, and it’s unfortunate for women’s volleyball, but this is what it should be like at every single place. Unfortunately, it’s not and so, to have a home court advantage where we have support like that, I think is everything, and it’s what these girls deserve. And I’m glad that they get a chance to play in front of a crowd that is behind them and supporting them and helps us win. I loved tonight, you know, for lots of reasons.”
On what he’s seen from players at this point of the season…
“They showed me that they can improve, and growth is a big deal in our program, and they’ve improved the last couple of weeks. Some of them have improved in the last nine months. And they’ve shown me they’re tough. You know, we’ve been in some pretty tough situations so far this season, where we’ve been down, and the other team is playing really well and they’re making us play hard volleyball and we have to play better and we have. We haven’t waited to the next set to just reset and then decide that we’re going to start playing great volleyball. I think that was the best thing about tonight is we were down both in the second and third set and we just found ways to win the next point and just good after good battle after battle and I loved that. That we did that tonight. I think that speaks to their character a lot.”
Senior Loren Hinkle
On playing in the new arena…
“I think the atmosphere is a lot more volleyball centered. It’s a lot more, I would say close knit because it’s the right amount of space for a volleyball game. Just the excitement around the new facility helps amp us up too.”
Senior Aliyah Carter
On her favorite moment of the night…
“I honestly think my favorite moment was when Izzi stuffed that one ball and it was like I feel like we’ve heard arenas that loud. My sophomore year we went to Nebraska like we’ve heard arenas that loud but we’ve never heard like it on our side, for us, and it was like right there. It was like you look around everybody’s smiling and cheering and wearing purple and I was just like that that was nuts.”
INSIDE THE BOX
- Wildcats moved to 4-0 while the Mavs dropped to 0-3
- K-State had 36 kills on 112 swings with 16 errors and six service aces
- The Wildcats defense held UNO to hit .080 with 32 kills on 112 attempts and 23 errors
- Aliyah Carter accumulated her 17th career double-double with 14 kills and 10 digs
- Six Wildcats recorded a block assist led by Kadye Fernholz with five
- Izzi Szulczewski paced the offense the 5-1 offense with 25 assists
- Mackenzie Morris totaled 20 digs for the second time this season
- Carter had a match-high 14 kills followed by Myers with seven
- Fernholz hit .500 on the night with five kills and five blocks
BEYOND THE BOX
- Friday’s match marked the first-ever contest in the Morgan Family Arena
- The Wildcats are off to a 4-0 start for the second straight season
- K-State leads the all-time series 14-6 against the Mavs
- Mackenzie Morris generated her 21st career 20-plus dig match
- Aliyah Carter has hit double-figure kills in three of the Wildcats four matches
- Jason Mansfield is the second K-State coach to start his career 3-0, joining Jim Moore in 1994
- Senior middle blocker Kadye Fernholz is two blocks away from her 300th career block
- Five teams from the expanded Big 12 conference remain undefeated – BYU, UCF, Houston, K-State and Iowa State.
- K-State is 74-23 against teams in the Summit League
The Wildcats now set their eyes on Sunday afternoon as they take on their first ranked opponent of the season with a non-conference matchup against No. 4 Nebraska (4-0). First serve is slated for 4 p.m. at Morgan Family Arena. The match can be seen on the Big 12 Now on ESPN+.