K-State Volleyball To Spend 10 Days In Eastern Europe
May 21, 2003
Manhattan, Kan. - The Kansas State women's volleyball team will end its 2003 spring practice season with a 10-day trip through three countries in Eastern Europe, Wildcat head coach Suzie Fritz announced earlier this week.
The trip will be the first of its kind for the women's volleyball team, which has advanced to the last seven NCAA Tournaments.
"This has been in the works for awhile," said Fritz. "Jim (McLaughlin, former head coach) and I hatched the idea when we got here in 1997, but we had been waiting for the chance to do it. I just felt like this was the right time and the right team to do it. There is nice, strong level of volleyball in these countries and the cultural experience cannot be matched."
The Wildcats left Manhattan early Tuesday morning, May 20, and was suppose to arrive in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday afternoon, May 21. The 10-day journey will take the team from Austria to cities in the Czech Republic and Hungary. The 10-person team plus support staff - will play four matches against elite club teams before ending the trip with a match against the Hungarian National Team on May 27.
After practicing late Wednesday in Brno, Czech Republic, the team will get its first taste of international competition on Thursday with a contest against Team Olymp Praha in Prague. Following a morning of site-seeing in the Czech capital, the Wildcats will play the Slavia Praha Juniors team on Friday afternoon. The team will do more site-seeing in Prague on Saturday, including a visit to historic Karlstien Castle, before departing for Budapest, Hungary late in the evening. On Sunday, the Wildcats will play a match against Team Vasas in Budapest. They follow will another contest against Team G d ll on Monday. The team will then conclude its trip with a match on Tuesday against the Hungarian National Team and future Wildcat Valeria Hejjas, who signed with the Wildcats during the late signing period. K-State returns to Vienna on Wednesday for more site-seeing before leaving the Austrian capital on Thursday. The team arrives back in Manhattan late on May 29.
"The first objective for this trip is to get the team some experience with international competition. There are more and more international players coming into the college game and this will give the team an opportunity to see a different style of play. These teams are going to be a challenge for us. They get paid to play, so they will have a better skill level than most college programs. Also, there is no substitute for game experience. Anytime, you can play more games and gain more experience, it is only going to help you once you get into competition in the fall."
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.
Kansas State is set to play of the nation's toughest schedules in 2003, as the Wildcats play up to 11 NCAA Tournament teams, including six reigning conference champions. The team opens the season on August 22-23 at the ninth annual NACWAA/State Farm Classic against 2002 Final Four participant and Western Athletic Conference champion Hawai'i in Honolulu, Hawai'i. The Wildcats will then play either defending NCAA and Pacific-10 champion USC or Final Four participant and SEC Champion Florida on Saturday.