Katie Reilly loves the slide shot.
“Honestly, that’s all I hit,” Reilly said. “If I didn’t I wouldn’t be scoring.”
That might be a bit of a generalization, but Reilly’s favorite play was working well Friday as Wichita State beat Kansas State 3-1 (25-22, 17-25, 25-18, 25-20) in the first round of the NCAA volleyball tournament at the Devaney Center in Lincoln.
The Shockers, 27-8, will face host Nebraska, 27-4, which defeated Harvard in four sets. The game is set for 7 p.m. Saturday.
Reilly hit .333 and had 15 kills, including the one that ended the match when, as she likes to do, she circled behind setter Emily Hiebert and fired away from the edge of the court.
“She’s awesome,” said Hiebert who had six kills and 58 assists. “I’m always confident throwing it back to her.”
Kansas State ended its season on a four-match losing streak in which it struggled offensively. It hit .238 — slightly better than season average but not good enough — Friday.
K-State finished the season at 17-12.
“We didn’t handle first contact well,” Kansas State coach Suzie Fritz said. “We probably could have survived a .225, .250-effort had we been able to slow them down.”
Brooke Sassin led Kansas State with 18 kills.
Setter Katie Brand said the Wildcats’ passing was off much of the night. “In the second set, I thought we had that under control. They weren’t able to get their quick (sets) off as much,” Brand said.
Kansas State overcame the absence of a senior on the roster, and the loss of outside hitter Kylee Zumach two matches into the season, to reach the tournament for the 16th time and fourth in the past five years.
“Throughout the season, we definitely progressed,” Brand said.
The Shockers had no aces for the first time this season, and committed nine service errors. That didn’t bother coach Chris Lamb given the Wildcats’ defense which allowed a .209 hitting percentage during the regular season.
“My concern was could we stay in a long rally with Kansas State. Tonight, I feel like we won a lot of long rallies,” Lamb said.
The Shockers hit .282, including a 20-kill, .500 effort from Abbie Lehman.
Wichita State, making its ninth NCAA appearance since 2004, won the first set with a late flurry from Lehman. Kansas State rallied from a 17-12 deficit to tie the score at 21-21, but Lehman had three kills and a block as the Shockers won four of the last five points.
It was a more comfortable position for the Shockers, who rallied from two-set deficits to win their final two matches last week at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
The Wildcats’ defense buoyed a decisive 10-3 run in set two. Kansas State had three blocks in the set and forced 10 hitting errors from the Shockers.
A five-point run gave Wichita State an 18-11 lead in the third set, and the Shockers eventually won on Lehman’s tip. The Shockers gradually pulled ahead in the final set, scoring 23 kills.