K-State Invited To Play In NACWAA/State Farm Classic
Feb. 10, 2003
Wilmington, N.C. - The Kansas State women's volleyball team has been selected by the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA) to participate in the ninth annual State Farm Women's Volleyball Classic. The prestigious tournament, which will be hosted by Hawaii on Friday-Saturday, August 22-23 at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, also includes defending NCAA champion Southern California and fellow Final Four participants Florida and Hawai'i.
This will be Kansas State's first appearance in the event, while Florida (1996, 1999, 2000), Hawaii (1996, 2001) and USC (1998) have all been prior participants. The Wildcats are just the third Big 12 Conference school to be invited to play in the Classic, following Texas A&M (1997) and Nebraska, which has made four appearances (1995, 1996, 1999, 2001). Other teams that have participated in the Classic include BYU, Colorado State, Long Beach State, Pacific, Penn State, Stanford, Wisconsin and UCLA.
"The field for the 2003 State Farm Volleyball Classic is outstanding and should provide excellent competition to begin the collegiate season," said NACWAA Executive Director Jennifer Alley. "State Farm has partnered with NACWAA for nine years in presenting this prestigious event. With Hawai'i's fine reputation for hosting quality events coupled with its enthusiastic volleyball fans, it is an ideal location for the 2003 State Farm Women's Volleyball Classic."
Kansas State is coming off its fourth consecutive season of at least 20 wins in 2002, in which, the Wildcats posted a 21-9 overall record and a 16-4 mark in Big 12 Conference play en route to its seventh straight NCAA Tournament. K-State hosted first- and second-round action of the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year, as the Wildcats defeated Michigan, 3-0, in the first round before losing a hard-fought 3-1 decision to eventual Elite Eight participant Washington State in the second round. KSU finished the season with its fifth consecutive final ranking in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA)/USA Today Top 25, as the Wildcats earned a No. 21 ranking. The program, led by 2002 Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year Suzie Fritz, returns five starters and eight of 10 letterwinners in 2003, including all three first team All-Big 12 selections Lauren Goehring, Gabby Guerre and Cari Jensen. The team also returns the conference's inaugural winner of the Libero of the Year, Laura Downey-Wallace.
"We are honored to have been invited to the NACWAA/State Farm Classic, as it is the most prestigious preseason event in women's volleyball," said Fritz. "We are excited to have an opportunity to compete against Florida, Hawai'i and USC, as they are three of the four teams that participated in the 2002 Final Four. This is a tremendously competitive field that will allow us to prepare for a competitive Big 12 Conference schedule and compete in one of the best environments in college volleyball."
This will be Kansas State's third trip to Hawai'i in the program's history, including the second in three years, as the Wildcats played in the 1997 Aston's Imua Rainbow Wahine Classic and the 2001 Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic both hosted by the University of Hawai'i. K-State is 3-3 all-time in those two trips with all three losses coming to ranked squads from Hawai'i (twice) and UCLA. The Wildcats are winless in five combined meetings with Hawai'i (0-2), Florida (0-1) and USC (0-1). KSU hasn't met the Women of Troy since the 1977 AIAW National Tournament, while it played the Gators in 1998 and the Rainbow Wahine in 2001.
USC returns all six starters from its national championship squad, including first team AVCA All-Americans senior April Ross and junior Emily Adams in addition to 2002 NCAA Tournament MVP Keao Burdine and All-Pac-10 first team pick Katie Olsovsky. Florida, ranked fourth at the end of 2002, returns all but one senior in 2003 including two All-Americans, senior first team pick Aury Cruz and senior third team selection Benavia Jenkins. Hawaii returns five starters, including three senior All-Americans in first team selections Lily Kahumoku and Kim Willoughby and third team pick Lauren Duggins.
Kansas State is guaranteed two matches in the tournament, however, the pairings will be announced at a later date. It is expected that all four matches will be broadcast on either a live or tape delayed basis by the ESPN2.