MANHATTAN, Kan. The KansasState volleyball team 2009 schedule will feature an exciting slate of nonconference action to open the 2009 campaign before another challenging Big 12 Conference slate. The Wildcats will play a total of seven teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last season beginning with Michigan and Minnesota at the AVCA/Runza Showcase.
The Showcase is an annual event pitting some of the nation’s top teams against each other in the opening weekend of the season. This year’s Showcase will be held in Omaha, Neb., at the QwestCenter on August 28-29. The format will follow 2008’s in a conference challenge with the Big 12 Conference taking on representatives from the Big Ten.
Nebraska and K-State will each play Michigan and Minnesota. The Wolverines reached the Regional Semifinals of the tournament before being eliminated by Nebraska in three sets while the Golden Gophers lost to IowaState in the second round.
“This may be one of the most competitive preseason schedules we have put together in any recent year,” head coach Suzie Fritz said.
Tickets for the AVCA/Runza Showcase are on sale now to the general public exclusively through Qwest Center Omaha and Ticketmaster. All-session ticket prices are set at $39 and $32. Times have not been set for the matches, but matchups for each day of competition have. K-State will open against Minnesota with Nebraska playing Michigan on Friday, August 28. On Saturday, the Wildcats will take on Michigan while Nebraska plays Minnesota.
Fritz also said playing the AVCA/Runza Showcase will give an early indicator as to the development of her squad that must replace five seniors from last year’s 24-8 team.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to play in the AVCA Showcase again,” she said. “It will be a significant challenge early on in the schedule that will allow us to see where we are in regards to where we want to be during the season.”
K-State will follow its second appearance in the AVCA Showcase with its home opener against UM-KansasCity on September 1 at Ahearn Field House before heading to Provo, Utah, to play in a tournament hosted by Brigham Young.
The BYU Invitational will boast a strong field as the Cougars have been to 24 of 28 NCAA Tournaments. The other two teams participating are Cal Poly and WeberState. Cal Poly failed to reach the post season this past season after winning back-to-back Big West titles. WeberState is coming off a 21-13 campaign last season marking the most wins in 20 years by a WeberState team.
Before hosting the annual Varney’s Kansas State Invitational, the Wildcats will take on South Dakota on September 8 at Ahearn. The Coyotes finished with a 23-4 record tying the school record for wins and were runners-up in the National Transitional Tournament for teams in the transition process to NCAA Division I.
The Varney’s Kansas State Invitational will have one of its strongest fields in recent years with two of the three teams traveling to Manhattan reaching the NCAA Tournament last season.
Purdue reached the Regional Semifinals in 2008 and finished ranked No. 15 in the final AVCA Coaches Poll. Kentucky also reached the NCAA Tournament last year before falling out in the first round to Michigan in five sets. Kentucky also ended the year ranked No. 22. Portland rounds out the rest of the Varney’s field after going 8-24 last season.
K-State will open Big 12 Conference action at home for the second straight year as the Wildcats will take on Oklahoma on September 16 to begin another challenging conference season.
“The Big 12 is going to be as competitive as it always is,” Fritz said.
Conference play will also feature three Wildcat Weekends with both volleyball and football playing home games. The volleyball team will play host to rival Kansas on October 17 while football takes on Texas A&M. The following week, football hosts Colorado and volleyball plays Baylor. The final Wildcat Weekend will be November 14 when the volleyball team takes to the court against IowaState and the football team hosts Missouri.
Other matches of note include the Wildcats’ home match against national semifinalists Nebraska on November 23 and Texas on October 3. The Wildcats will close the regular season on the road against Texas Tech as they did in 2008 on November 28.
Ticket prices for K-State volleyball matches will be announced at a later date.