PORTLAND, Ore. (K-State Athletics) – K-State opened its 50th season of Wildcat volleyball in the win column as a 3-1 (15-25, 28-26, 25-20, 25-16) triumph over Portland State paved the way to the first victory in the Jason Mansfield era at the Rose Vance Rose City Showdown on Friday.
Jason Mansfield, who was hired as the Wildcats ninth head volleyball coach on December 27 after spending 19 seasons as a key contributor to the development of national contenders Stanford, Illinois and most recently, Washington, picked up his first official victory.
Newcomer Izzi Szulczewski made a statement in her K-State debut as the junior setter paced the offense with a match-leading 41 assists. The Beaverton, Ore., product led on the defensive side with 22 digs to collect her first double-double as a Wildcat.
The Wildcats offense hit .176 in the four-set win with 50 kills on 165 attempts and 21 errors while the defense logged 13 blocks and 73 digs against the tournament host. Portland State recorded 58 kills on 169 swings with 30 errors for a .166 attack percentage.
The Vikings’ Sophia Meyers posted a match-high 15 kills followed by Makayla Lewis with 13 while Ella Hartford had 27 assists. Three players tallied double figure digs while the team finished with five blocks.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Wildcats took hold of the opening point with Carter’s 995th kill before the Vikings returned with two consecutive points to take the lead. K-State evened the score at 5-all until PSU used a six-point run to take the opening set led by seven kills from Sophia Meyers.
K-State quickly fell behind in the second as PSU went on a 5-0 scoring run. The Wildcats worked their way from a six-point deficit to bring the score within two, 22-20, before leveling the score at 22-all. After four lead changes, back-to-back kills from Carter evened the match. Sydney Bolding logged six block assists through two sets.
Tied a set a piece, five tied score changes put the set at 12-all before a four-point scoring run behind Liz Gregorski’s kill claimed a 16-12 lead. An assisted block from Kadye Fernholz and Szulczewski put the Wildcats ahead in the match.
Gregorski registered five kills in the third set while Bolding and Carter each gathered three, helping the Cats hit .306.
K-State raced out to a 7-1 lead in the fourth led by a pair of aces from Szulczewski. The Vikings cut the Wildcats lead to three, 9-6, but an 8-2 run ended the threat as K-State held on to capture the season-opening win.
IN HIS WORDS
Head Coach Jason Mansfield
On the match overall…
“Yeah, I think first matches are always scary, right? I mean everybody, everybody thinks they’re great, and everybody has hope when they’re zero and zero. So I’m not surprised that the home team played great in the first two sets. I think the best thing we did was just try to find a way to win the second set and grinded it out and got ourselves into a place where we had to make plays late and we did. So I was really proud of the team for that, and then we just kind of settled down and played better and better in the third and fourth set. So really proud of the team and know we can play a lot better, but the point is to try to win, and so we found a way to do that. We’ll look at film and we’re going to play a tough team tomorrow but really happy to be 1-0.”
On Aliyah Carter’s 1,000th Kill…
“That’s awesome. Aliayah was like a kind of a microcosm of our team. You know, she didn’t start great in the first set and then she just got better and better and started being herself and taking those aggressive swings and being you know, who we know she can be. It was kind of like our team, you know, we didn’t start great, and we found ways to kind of be ourselves more and more but yeah really proud of her. I mean, you know she’s a Wildcat through and through. She’s going to leave this program as one of the all-time greats, and so hopefully she’s going to get more kills this season goes on.”
On Izzi Szulczewski’s first double-double as a Wildcat…
“She’s just such a special athlete. She’s been around the game her whole life, both parents played and she’s somebody that is just deceiving at the net. She makes you think that you can hit over her, around her because she’s small, but you’re going to pay for it. But yeah, really lead the team well. Obviously set great but she can play the whole game.”
INSIDE THE BOX
- Wildcats hit .176 with 50 kills on 165 swings and 21 errors along with five service aces
- Portland State posted 58 kills on 169 attempts with 30 errors for a .166 attack percentage
- Defensively, K-State had 13.0 team blocks with 73 digs
- Two Wildcats recorded double-doubles in the first match of the season – Aliyah Carter (10 kills, 10 digs), Izzi Szulczewski (41 assists, 22 digs)
- Carter and Liz Gregorski paced the offense with 10 kills each
- Kadye Fernholz hit a team-high .385 with seven kills on 13 swings
- Sydney Bolding and Fernholz each logged a team-leading six blocks while Szulczewski had five
- K-State starters included returners Aliyah Carter, Kadye Fernholz, Shaylee Myers, Sydney Bolding and libero Mackenzie Morris who were joined by newcomers Izzi Szulczewski and Liz Gregorski.
BEYOND THE BOX
- K-State picked up the win in the first meeting with Portland State
- Head coach Jason Mansfield earned his first career victory
- Wildcats opened the season with a win for the third consecutive year
- The 50th season led off with a the program’s 894th win
- Aliyah Carter became the 19th player in school history to reach 1,000 career kills
- Transfer Izzi Szulczewski recorded her firs double-double as a Wildcat
- K-State is 13-5-1 against teams from the Big Sky
K-State continues the Hotel Vance Rose City Showdown against San Diego State Saturday, with first serve set for 3 p.m.
— K-State Volleyball (@KStateVB) August 26, 2023
— K-State Volleyball (@KStateVB) August 26, 2023