Volleyball plays host to K-State in home opener

Gold and Blue Nation

The West Virginia University volleyball team returns to Morgantown to play host to Kansas State in the 2020 home opener on Thursday, Oct. 1. First serve at the WVU Coliseum is set for 7 p.m. ET.

Thursday’s contest will air live on ESPNU, with Courtney Lyle and Jenny Hazelwood on the call. Friday’s match against the Wildcats will be carried live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+, starting at 6 p.m. ET., with Jason White and Alex Wiederspiel on the call. For more information, or to sign up for the digital platform, visit WVUsports.com/Big12Now.

Live stats and video links for both matches can be found on WVUsports.com.

Of note, due to safety precautions from the COVID-19 pandemic, only essential game operations personnel and families of the players and volleyball staff will be admitted into the arena.

“They (Kansas State) are a good team,” said sixth-year coach Reed Sunahara. “They beat Iowa State, who is consistently in the top three or four in our conference and make the NCAA Tournament. That is a great win for them. They are good. The way we are preparing is that we have to stop them from doing what they want. We have to execute on our side. We have to control the ball better and make better decisions on our hitting. The good thing is that we are at home. Our kids love playing at home, and hopefully, we can take it one game at a time.”

WVU and K-State first met in 2012, when the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 Conference. Kansas State holds a 9-7 lead in the all-time series. However, the Mountaineers have won five of their last six matches against the Wildcats, including a series sweep last season.

West Virginia is 32-14 in home openers and has not dropped an opening match inside the WVU Coliseum since 2014. The Mountaineers are 322-242 at home all-time and are 4-4 against the Wildcats in Morgantown.

West Virginia earned a series split at Texas Tech last week. The Mountaineers were swept in their season opener on Thursday, Sept. 24, before claiming a four-set victory on Friday, Sept. 25, at the United Supermarkets Arena, in Lubbock, Texas. With the win, WVU defeated TTU in Lubbock for the first time since Sept. 24, 2016.

Senior middle blocker Briana Lynch, who was the Mountaineers’ lone selection on the 2020 Preseason All-Big 12 Team, started the season with an average of 4.50 points per set to rank third in the Big 12 last week. The Johns Creek, Georgia, native leads the team with 26 kills, averaging 3.71 per set, to go along with a team-high eight blocks (1.14 per set). Following her season-opening performance, she was named the WVU Student-Athlete of the Week on Monday.

Junior setter Lacey Zerwas eclipsed her 2,000th career assist last week, dishing out 87 assists to average 12.43 per set. West Virginia’s offense ranks second in the Big 12 with 15.14 kills per set and 13.57 assists per set.

Senior libero Alexa Hasting anchors WVU’s floor defense and ranks second in the conference with 4.86 digs per set, including 23 in West Virginia’s four-set win over Texas Tech on Friday; a single-match high in the Big 12 this season. It also marked her 12th 20-plus dig performance of her career.

Kansas State also rebounded to earn a split in its season-opening weekend against Iowa State last week, dropping a five-set loss on Friday, Sept. 25, before claiming a four-set victory over the Cyclones the following evening. The Wildcats ended an eight-match losing skid to ISU, dating back to 2016. Redshirt junior outside hitter Brynn Carlson led her team with 19 and 15 kills, respectively, over the weekend. As a team, Kansas State is averaging 13.4 kills per set and hitting .252.

Looking ahead, the Mountaineers will trek to Lawrence, Kansas, to square off with the Jayhawks in back-to-back matches on Oct. 9-10.

For more information on the Mountaineers, visit WVUsports.com and follow WVUVolleyball on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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