MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University volleyball team is set to take its first Big 12 road trip as it heads out for matches against No. 15 Kansas State and Oklahoma.
The Mountaineers (8-7, 0-2 Big 12) will start in Manhattan, Kan., with an 8 p.m. match against the Wildcats (13-1, 0-1 Big 12) on Sept. 27, before concluding its trip with a matchup with the Sooners (12-4, 1-1) on Sept. 29 at 8 p.m., in Norman, Okla.
“This is actually a long trip for us,” coach Jill Kramer says. “We moved our Wednesday match to Thursday so that we only have to take one trip out since we have back-to-back road trips.
“For the last couple of days, we have been prepping for Kansas State and Oklahoma. It is the first time we have played in these arenas and it is our first big road trip as a group. I am anxious to see our team in a new environment and continuing to play as well as we did last weekend.”
WVU is coming off its fourth consecutive five-set match, which the Mountaineers dropped to other Big 12 newcomer TCU. Freshmen outside hitters Nikki Attea
and Hannah Sackett
and junior outside hitter Arielle Allen
each posted double-digit kills in the match against the Horned Frogs. Attea led all hitters by recording 15 kills, while Sackett and Allen chipped in 13 and 10 kills, respectively.
Freshman setter Brittany Sample
posted her fourth double-double in a row against TCU last Saturday, by recording 45 assists and a season- and career-high 20 digs. The Lewisville, Texas native currently has eight double-doubles on the season, which is tied for first in the Big 12 conference.
“What we are focused on mainly right now is getting better with some specific things with our team day in and day out,” Kramer says. “We feel like that has to happen before we focus on what the other team is doing.”
Kansas State started the season 12-0, the best start in school history, before dropping its Big 12 opener against Oklahoma on Sept. 19. The Wildcats have defeated two ranked opponents this season in then-No.10 Minnesota and No. 20 Dayton and climbed as high as No. 11 in the rankings before the loss to the Sooners.
Lilla Porubek and Kaitlynn Pelger lead the Kansas State offense that is ranked No. 23 in the nation in hitting percentage with .267. Porubek and Pelger were both named to the Preseason All-Big 12 team as Pelger leads the team with 164 kills, 3.57 kills per set and a .361 hitting percentage. Pelger was also named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week and AVCA Division I Player of the Week on Sept. 17.
“Kansas State is solid,” Kramer says. “They are ranked in the top 20 right now and they have a lot of great players that we need to defend well."
With the defeat of then No. 11-ranked Kansas State last Wednesday, the Sooners now have a 2-3 record against ranked opponents this season. Oklahoma is looking to bounce back after being swept 3-0 by No. 9 Texas on Sept. 22. Junior outside hitter Keila Rodriquez led Oklahoma with nine kills and eight digs in the loss to the Longhorns, while Sallie McLaurin hit a team-high .333 hitting percentage.
McLaurin, a Preseason All-Big 12 team selection, is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation in blocks per set with 1.70 and also leads Oklahoma with 146 kills, 2.61 kills per set, 83 blocks and a .385 hitting percentage.
“Oklahoma is a really well coached team,” Kramer says. “Santiago’s (Restrepo) teams always work hard, play really good defense and are super competitive. It will be exciting to get into that gym and play against them.”
This will be the first time in program history that WVU will face off against Kansas State and Oklahoma.
Live stats for both the matches can be found at WVUsports.com while live video streaming for the Kansas State match only can be found at kstatesports.com.