MANHATTAN, Kansas – A career day for sophomore Chandler Atwood wasn't enough as Texas Tech volleyball came up short at Kansas State, 3-2, Saturday at Ahearn Field House in Manhattan, Kansas.
Atwood powered the Red Raiders (12-6, 1-4) with a career-high 21 kills on 60 swings, but it was the block of Kansas State that helped the Wildcats (9-9, 2-3) rally for the win. Tech led 2-1 after three before K-State posted six of its 18 blocks in the third and then two more in the deciding fifth set to claim a 25-15, 23-25, 17-25, 25-18, 15-11 win.
"The difference in the match tonight was K-State's block," head coach Tony Graystone said. "They got things figured out toward the end of the match and were able to control some things that we were trying to do. Today is still a step forward. K-State is obviously a very good team, but we showed a lot of fight today. Chandler was very good. Our ball control was good. We out-killed them by nine for the match. We were scoring points, but we were just a little too high error."
After a tough first set, Tech outlasted the Wildcats in a second set that featured six ties and three lead changes. Freshman Allison White and sophomore Chandler Atwood fueled the charge out of a timeout to help Tech earn a 21-19 advantage. The Red Raiders closed the set on junior Katy Keenan's kill for Tech's first set win in Manhattan since 2014.
Tech controlled the third set right from the start, hitting .412 out of the gate to grab a 9-4 lead. Atwood recorded seven kills in the frame, and the Red Raiders outhit the Wildcats .348 to .127 to hold a comfortable lead throughout on their way to the 25-17 set win.
The Wildcats would recover to take the fourth set 25-18 and the fifth set 15-11, using their size at the net to hold Tech to .108 hitting in the two final frames.
White had another solid outing, posting nine kills at a .368 clip and three blocks, including a match-high two solo blocks. The Argyle, Texas, native brought her block total to 65 for the season, which leads all Big 12 freshmen. Keenan, also of Argyle, was right there with her in the middle, tallying nine kills on .185 hitting and three blocks.
Preseason All-Big 12 libero Reyn Akiu was back in the starting lineup after missing five matches with a PCL injury. She got the start at defensive specialist and posted nine digs. Senior Kate Klepetka got the call at libero and finished with a match-high 26 digs, moving her career total to 2,017. She is now one of just three active NCAA players to reach the 2,000 career dig milestone.
Junior Missy Owens collected a season-high 57 assists to lead a Tech offense that blasted 66 kills to K-State's 57. Owens and sophomore Emily Hill both compiled double-doubles as Owens added 10 digs, while Emily Hill finished with 16 kills and matched a season high with 13 digs.
Wildcat Bryna Vogel led K-State in kills with 16 on the day on .324 hitting. She was one of three Wildcats to reach double figures in kills along with Peyton Williams and Kylee Zumach. Vogel and Williams also led the team at the net with eight and seven blocks, respectively.
Tech drops to 1-21 all-time in Manhattan.
Tech has now won more sets in 2017 (43) than it did in all of 2016 (42).
Saturday marked Tech's first loss of the season in a match in which it led 2-1.
The Red Raiders return to Lubbock for a home showdown with TCU (9-6, 1-3) next Saturday, Oct. 14, at 1 p.m. at United Supermarkets Arena. The Horned Frogs are hosting No. 5 Texas today at 2:30 p.m. and then travel to Texas State Wednesday before coming to Lubbock.