MANHATTAN, Kan. (Kansas State Athletics) – K-State begins a six-match road trip Friday at the Rambler Challenge, with matches against Rutgers, host Loyola Chicago and St. Thomas over two days at Gentile Arena in Chicago, Illinois.
K-State opens the tournament with a Friday doubleheader against Rutgers at 10 a.m. before taking on the Ramblers at 7:30 p.m. The weekend concludes against St. Thomas Saturday, with first serve set for 12 p.m.
The Wildcats (6-1) are coming off a five-set win over rival Missouri Wednesday night. Freshman Shaylee Myers spearheaded the offense with 23 kills at a .419 clip while seniors Elena Baka (16 kills, 17 digs) and Loren Hinkle (41 assists, 10 digs) each added double-doubles.
The Cats’ matchup with Loyola Chicago will be broadcast on ESPN+ and the ESPN app. Rob Voelker will be on the call at K-StateSports.com/Watch or on the K-State Sports app.
K-STATE (6-1, 0-0 BIG 12) vs. RUTGERS (4-2, 0-0 BIG TEN)
Friday, Sept. 9 // 10 a.m. // Gentile Arena // Chicago, Ill.
K-STATE (6-1, 0-0 BIG 12) at LOYOLA CHICAGO (3-4, 0-0 MVC)
Friday, Sept. 9 // 7:30 p.m. // Gentile Arena // Chicago, Ill.
Watch: ESPN+ // ESPN app
Listen: K-StateSports.com/watch // 1350KMAN.com (Rob Voelker)
K-STATE (6-1, 0-0 BIG 12) vs. ST. THOMAS (2-4, 0-0 SUMMIT)
Saturday, Sept. 10 // 12 p.m. // Gentile Arena // Chicago, Ill.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE
- K-State kicks off a six-match roadtrip at the Rambler Challenge Friday, as it takes on Rutgers and host Loyola Chicago in a Friday doubleheader before finishing with St. Thomas on Saturday.
- The Wildcats outlasted former Big 12 rival Missouri in five sets Wednesday night, as the Cats took the first two sets before the Tigers forced a decisive frame.
- Shaylee Myers came off the bench and led the Wildcats with a career-high 23 kills at a .419 clip.
- Elena Baka (16 kills, 17 digs) and Loren Hinkle (41 assists, 10 digs) added double-doubles in the Cats’ first five-set win of the season.
- In total, K-State saw four players reach double-figure kills, as Haley Warner turned in a season-high 16 and Sydney Bolding added 10.
- Bolding also tallied four service aces, a career high, in leading K-State to 10 aces on the night.
- Last week at the UCF Challenge, the Wildcats took down Syracuse (3-1) and North Florida (3-0) before falling in five sets to host UCF.
- Baka and Mackenzie Morris earned all-tournament honors after leading K-State in kills and digs, respectively.
- Baka produced 50 kills (4.17 per set) while hitting .269 and added six aces and seven blocks for the weekend.
- Morris added three straight matches with 10 or more digs, capped by a career-high 25 in the Wildcats’ five-set match at UCF.
- The Cats opened the tournament with a four-set win over Syracuse, as Aliyah Carter led the way with a season-high 20 kills at a .366 clip.
- Baka added 17 kills and Morris had a team-high 17 digs.
- Baka produced a 14-kill, 14-dig double-double to go with four aces in K-State’s straight-set win over North Florida.
- In a matchup with future Big 12 foe UCF, Baka led the Cats with 19 kills while Carter added 18, as K-State’s season-opening five-match winning streak came to an end.
- The 5-0 start marked the Wildcats’ longest winning streak to start a season since 2013 when they opened the year 7-0.
- Over three matches, K-State served up 28 aces while committing just 15 service errors, led by six aces each from Baka and Morris.
- Sydney Bolding finished the weekend with 14 block assists to pace the Cats’ defense.
SCOUTING THE FIELD
- At the Rambler Challenge, K-State will take on Rutgers and Loyola Chicago in a Friday doubleheader before closing the weekend with St. Thomas on Saturday.
- Rutgers (4-2) is coming off a 1-2 weekend, dropping five-set contests to Radford and Towson at the Towson Invitational.
- The Scarlet Knights are led offensively by Alissa Kinkela and her 3.48 kills per set at a .255 efficiency.
- Kinkela also averages 1.04 digs a set to go with 14 blocks.
- Four players have double-digit blocks, as Rutgers allows opponents to hit just .151 on the season.
- Loyola Chicago (3-4) has split its last four matches after dropping a four-set decision at Marquette on Tuesday.
- At the Michigan Invitational last weekend, Loyola defeated Morehead State (four sets) and Toledo (three set) before falling in five sets to Michigan.
- The Ramblers have four players averaging over 2.00 kills per set, led by Addie Barnes’ 2.85 kills a set.
- Grace Hinchman leads Loyola’s back row with 4.56 digs per set.
- St. Thomas (2-4), in its second year as a Division I program after transitioning from Division III, won one of three matches at the Saint Louis Invitational.
- The Tommies defeated the Billikens in five sets, rebounding from a 3-1 setback to Central Michigan before concluding the tournament by being swept by Youngstown State.
- As a team, St. Thomas is hitting .124 while allowing opponents to hit at a .248 pace.
- Lauren Galvin spearheads the offense, averaging 2.78 kills per set with a .202 hitting percentage.
- Emma Goerger has a team-high 26 blocks (1.18 per set) and 11 aces through six matches.
INSIDE THE SERIES
- K-State will meet both Rutgers and St. Thomas for the first time and lead the all-time series with Loyola Chicago 3-1.
- The Wildcats and Ramblers will face off for the second straight season and third time since 2016.
- A season ago, K-State outlasted Loyola Chicago in five sets at the K-State Invitational on Sept. 10, as the Ramblers won sets three and four to force a decisive frame.
- In the matchup, the Cats got 17 kills from Aliyah Carter and 12 from Haley Warner to go with 19 digs by Mackenzie Morris.
- K-State is 21-122-1 against current members of the Big Ten Conference, 71-23 against The Summit League and 51-31-1 against the Missouri Valley Conference.
ACES IN SPADES
- Through the first two weeks of the 2022 season, K-State has racked up 61 service aces, which is tops in the Big 12 and ranks 12th nationally.
- Elena Baka is the team leader with 14 aces to pace the Big 12 and currently ranks 21st in the country.
- Baka turned in multiple service aces in each of the first five matches of the season, twice registering four aces.
- The team’s 2.26 aces per set also is best in the league while ranking 15th nationally.
- Four times the Cats have eclipsed the 10-ace mark, including in back-to-back matches at the UCF Challenge with 11 against Syracuse and a season-high 12 vs. North Florida.
- The 12 aces were the most in a three-set match since the 2007 season and were tied for fourth-most in the rally-scoring era.
- It was the first time K-State produced back-to-back matches with at least 10 aces since 2007.
- Last season, K-State finished with 10 or more aces just twice.
- Additionally, the four matches with 10 or more aces are the most since a rally-scoring-record seven matches in 2007.
- Currently, three Wildcats rank in the Big 12’s top 10 in aces per set: Baka (fourth), Bolding (fourth) and Hinkle (sixth).
- Senior transfer Elena Baka has had an immediate impact through seven matches with the Wildcats.
- Playing six rotations, Baka leads the team in total kills with 92 while hitting at a .221 efficiency along with a team-high 14 aces.
- The Saint Mary’s transfer set a career-high with 19 kills against UCF on Saturday on the way to her second straight all-tournament team selection.
- She has three double-doubles on the season, including 16 kills and a career-best 17 digs against Mizzou Wednesday.
- Her 14 aces are tops in the Big 12, as she served up multiple aces in each of K-State’s first five contests.
BOLDING BREAKING OUT
- Senior middle blocker Sydney Bolding is off to a fast start for K-State in 2022, hitting .347 and averaging 2.00 kills per set with 1.12 blocks per set and a dozen aces.
- Bolding’s four aces against Missouri were a career high, as she has four matches with multiple aces this season (just two such matches last season).
- She was named to the K-State Invitational All-Tournament Team after the season’s opening weekend, marking the first all-tournament selection of her Wildcat career after she transferred from Jacksonville before the 2021 season.
- Bolding, who missed the first three weeks of the 2021 season due to injury, turned in a .537 hitting percentage in the first weekend and currently leads the team at .347 for the season (10th in the Big 12).
- The Pickens, South Carolina, product did not commit a single attacking error over three matches at the K-State Invitational, racking up 22 kills on 41 swings.
- Against NC State, she set a career high with 13 kills while also totaling seven blocks.
- In the season opener against Sam Houston, Bolding put down six kills on 12 attacks and added a pair of aces.
- Additionally, she ranks fifth in the Big 12 at 0.46 per set.