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Wildcats lose to Vanderbilt; VolleyCats win in Omaha

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Recapping all the weekend Kansas State sports action

NCAA Football: Charlotte at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Football

Kansas State lost to Vanderbilt 14-7 in a tightly contested game between two defenses that showed up to play.

Jon Morse’s recap wonders out loud re: What Did We Learn? The answer seems to be that we learned our offense can be shut down by a stifling defense that takes away our run game entirely. There were flashes in the run game, of course. Jesse Ertz ran roughshod over the Commodores in the first half, and Justin Silmon? Well, he did this:

Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough. I don’t want to focus on the X’s and O’s too much, but this much is obvious. Jesse Ertz could throw the ball just fine, but he couldn’t make his receivers hold on. When they didn’t make the catches, he pressed, he floated the ball long, he threw into double coverage. By the end of the game, looking more like a victim of shell-shock then anything else, Ertz tried to carry the whole team on his back and fell short. By just two yards.

Afterwards, Ertz was appropriately frustrated. He put the blame squarely on himself and the rest of the offense.

We didn’t execute today. We didn’t make near enough plays to win. We didn’t deserve to be in the game.

The offensive play calling in the second half might share in the blame. With Ertz and the receivers faltering, and Vanderbilt’s defense effectively stopping the quarterback run game, some innovation in play calling was the need of the hour.

There’s no point in focusing on the points Kansas State left on the field thanks to the inexplicable reversal of Kendall Adams’ scoop-and-score, the negation of the return touchdown, and Mathew McCrane’s missed field goal. Much of that was out of the control of the team and the coaches. But this was a game that was winnable, and the Wildcats came away with a loss. This all feels familiar because it is. This is what happened against West Virginia last year.

Silver lining? First, the defense is very good, maybe even great. Second, the offensive line is so adept at pass protection that Ertz had about three days to pass the ball. Third, none of the defenses in the Big 12 are likely to play like Vanderbilt. Finally, last year’s loss to West Virginia keyed the resurgence and determination that the Wildcats rode to nine wins last season. If Kansas State had to lose an early game, this was the one to lose.

Bring on the Big 12 season.

Cross Country

At the Woody Greeno/Jake Dirksen Invitation, lightning-related delays put everyone behind, but the Kansas State men’s and women’s cross country teams ultimately rallied to finish fifth and fourth respectively. The women had a total of 99 points, with the men earning 105 points in their respective competitions.

Next, the cross country teams will be seen in action in Stillwater on September 30 in the Cowboy Jamboree Invite.

Soccer

Kansas State will play its final non-conference home game of the season today, a match against Colorado State at 1 PM. The game will be streamed on ESPN3 with radio coverage on 101.5 KROCK.

This is the Wildcats’ first tilt against a team from the Mountain West and the first-ever meeting of the two programs.

Volleyball

The team needed five sets, 45 tied scores, and 18 lead changes to do it, but Kansas State finally beat Northern Iowa in a tightly contested match 3-2 (25-22, 24-26, 29-27, 23-25, 15-6) to wrap up the Omaha Challenge, with ended with all participants having 2-1 records.

Bryna Vogel had 15 kills and matched her career record with 23 digs, along with a season high six blocks. For her efforts, she earned all-tournament honors for the third consecutive tournament.

Big 12 play begins on Wednesday, when the VolleyCats travel to Norman to take on Oklahoma.