MANHATTAN, Kan. – Texas A&M battled and took No. 16 Kansas State to five sets, but the Aggies suffered a heartbreaking 23-25, 25-12, 25-21, 19-25, 15-9 loss to the Wildcats in front of 1,165 tonight at Ahearn Field House.
It was the fourth five-setter in the last six meetings between the two teams. K-State, which has lost only once to the Aggies in 13 meetings in Manhattan, outhit A&M .303 to .219, recording nine blocks to A&M’s four to improve to 19-4 overall and 9-3 in the Big 12. A&M, playing its third ranked opponent in a five-match stretch, falls to 10-12 overall, 5-7 in conference play.
There were 16 ties and seven lead changes in the tightly contested opening set. The biggest lead of the frame occurred at the start as K-State jumped out to a 4-1 lead. Three straight kills by Mary Batis evened the score at 4-4, and the teams went back and forth the remainder of the set.
The Wildcats took their last lead at 18-17 courtesy of back-to-back kills by Natalya Korobkova. The teams traded point for point until Sarah Ammerman scored two straight for A&M with a kill and an ace, putting A&M up, 22-21. K-State tied the score at 22 and 23 before a service error by Rita Liliom put the Aggies at set point. Darla Donaldson and Batis then closed out the set as they teamed to block a Korobkova attack for the clinching point.
A&M, which outhit the Wildcats, .345 to .242 in the opening set, hit -.097 in the second set while K-State hit .417. A&M held its only lead at 2-1 before the Wildcats went on a 7-1 run to go up, 8-3. K-State continued to extend its lead throughout the remainder of the set, using a late 4-0 rally to go up, 21-10. The run ended when K-State committed back-to-back attack errors, but the Wildcats went on another 4-0 spurt to end the set and tie the match at a set apiece.
Other than two ties, A&M led throughout the first half of the third set until K-State took its first lead at 15-14. The teams exchanged side outs and were tied at 16 when the Wildcats reeled off three unanswered points. A&M got within a point at 18, 19 and 20 before Korobkova got a kill on an overpass and Leslie Townsend aced her serve. A dump kill by Aggie setter Kristen Schevikhoven made the score 23-21, but K-State counter with a kill apiece by Jenny Jantsch and Liliom to end the frame and give the Wildcats a 2-1 set lead.
K-State used a 4-0 run to take its only lead of the fourth set, 5-4. A&M countered with its own 4-0 run to retake the lead at 9-6. The Aggies, who outhit K-State .371 to .250 in the set, kept the lead for the remainder of the stanza. Up 21-18, A&M outscored the Wildcats, 4-1 to end the set.
A&M narrowly trailed 7-6 in the final frame when the Wildcats went on a controversial-filled 4-0 run. Ammerman ended the rally with her 15th kill of the match, but K-State got a kill and an ace to go up, 13-7. Batis put down her 19th kill of the match, but Liliom got her 19th kill on the ensuing play to put the Cats serving for the match. Banse kept the Aggies alive with her 14th kill before a kill by Megan Farr clinched the win for K-State.
Banse led A&M with 14 digs. Schevikhoven posted 51 assists to move into ninth in the A&M career records with 1,853.
Liliom and Korobkova tied Batis for match-high honors in kills with 19 apiece. K-State libero Lauren Mathewson led all players with 18 digs, and Farr tallied a match-high eight blocks for the Cats.
A&M remains on the road this weekend, taking on No. 3 Texas Saturday in Austin. The start time of the match against the Longhorns has been changed to 5 p.m. at Gregory Gym. The Aggies return home next Wednesday to host No. 2 Nebraska. That start time has been changed to 6 p.m. at G. Rollie White Coliseum to allow fans to also catch the A&M men’s basketball exhibition game against Texas A&M-Kingsville, which is set for a 7:30 p.m. tip at Reed Arena.