MANHATTAN, Kan. - In the 33-year history of Kansas State volleyball, the Wildcats have had five All-Americans grace the floor of historic Ahearn Field House: Dawn Cady (1999), Liz Wegner (2000 and 2001), Lauren Goehring (2003), Gabby Guerre (2003) and Vali Hejjas (2004). The Kansas State Sports Information Office will look at what these five women have been doing since their playing days ended in a five-part summer interview series.
In the second of a five-part series, the Kansas State Sports Information Office got in touch with the only two-time All-American in school history, Liz Wegner. During her four years in the purple and white, Wegner was a two-time All-Big 12 first team selection (2000 and 2001), an NCAA All-Central Region selection and was named to the 2000 NCAA Mideast Region All-Tournament team and is the only K-State player to be selected to a post-season all-tournament team.
Wegner holds 21 school career, single-season and single-match records including career mark for kills in a season (1,907), total attacks (4,891), total points (2,161.0), most 20-kill matches in a career (28), kills in a 3-game match (34), kills in a postseason 3-game match (34), kills in a postseason 4-game match (28) and kills in a 5-game postseason match (25). Wegner also ranks sixth in school history with 426 games played, is seventh in career digs with 1,121 and tied for ninth in service aces with 116.
Kansas State Sports Information Dept. (KSUSID): First off, Liz, fill us in on what you have been up to since graduating from Kansas State in 2002?
Liz Wegner (LW): I actually stuck around KSU for my fifth year to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I started training very hard to play professional volleyball. I was close to having a deal to play in Puerto Rico when I decided to go tubing at the lake. A bad decision, I tore my labrum in my right shoulder and I was sidelined for a while. I did a tour through Europe in the spring to see if I wanted to play overseas, but I decided it was too far away for me and the volleyball was just not the same. I graduated from KSU in May 2003 and then I moved to Wichita because I was love-struck and unsure if I wanted to keep pursuing a career in volleyball or if I was ready to move on to a career in the medical field. I took some classes at Wichita State and I was a student assistant with the volleyball team. I decided I was ready to move on from volleyball for many reasons, the biggest being that I got married and I was ready to start my career. So I applied to Physician Assistant school at Wichita State. I am now just finishing up my 1st year of PA school.
KSUSID: Do you feel like your school record for career kills is safe and may never be challenged since the sport changed to a rally scoring system before the start of your senior season in 2001?
LW: I think because of the rally scoring system it will be very difficult to reach that number of kills. The game is so fast now and hitters don't have as many opportunities to swing at the ball. So I guess it will be safe for now, but I wouldn't count anyone out of the running because you never know who might come along.
KSUSID: Do you think the change to rally scoring emphasizes more specialization by players and less of an all-around player such as yourself?
LW: Absolutely! I did play all-around, but I would still call myself a designated hitter. When I played in college there wasn't as many opportunities for specialization. However, my main purpose for staying in the game all around was to be available to hit the ball. I think if I played the game now I would only be seen in the front row to allow for someone more skilled in the back row.
KSUSID: Does your shoulder feel any affects from the 5,000 swings that you took while in a K-State uniform?
LW: I don't think it was the 5,000 swings that I feel now. It is the pain from my decision to have fun at the lake and tube with friends. As a result of tearing my labrum, I had to rehab my shoulder a long time to get it back and I would still not consider it to be quite as strong as it was before my accident. It is a little ironic to me because my parents always shielded me from activities like that to protect me from getting any injuries. It was only the second time I had ever done that in my life and guess what happened? There is a very valuable lesson here! Listen to your parents!! I still play a lot of volleyball in Wichita and I have to admit there is nothing like the feeling of killing a ball.
KSUSID: What was it like taking the floor in Ahearn Field House, especially when it was packed with more than 5,000 fans for matches?
LW: It was the best environment to play in and it is something that I will always cherish and never forget. I loved how close the fans were to the action, I loved the heat and I really loved the incredible amount of noise that 5,000 people can make in an exciting match. I would have to say it was the best place to play in my opinion; maybe I am a little biased?
KSUSID: Outside of volleyball, what are your fondest memories of your time at Kansas State and in Manhattan ?
LW: I still vividly remember the feeling I got when I made my first visit to Manhattan. I remember riding with my parents into town and seeing all of the limestone, the lake and the beautiful campus. I had this overwhelming feeling that this was where I needed to be. It was where I belonged. I had the amazing opportunity to gain a valuable education from a great school while playing Division I volleyball. I was also blessed with the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people who have had a profound impact on my life, I only hope I can now go out and do the same for others. I don't know that I could choose any one memory over the other, but I can say that I now consider Manhattan home.
KSUSID: Being from Nebraska (Grand Island), did you know anything about Kansas State before Suzie Fritz recruited you?
LW: Honestly, no. I was surrounded by all of this red and I was unable to see clearly. I am very fortunate and grateful that KSU came into the picture because it was the right fit for me.