June 17, 2003
MANHATTAN, Kan.-Eleven NCAA Tournament teams and six conference champions, including three Final Four participants, highlight the 2003 Kansas State volleyball schedule released by university officials today.
The Wildcats open the season with four matches against NCAA Tournament participants. K-State will start the stretch with an appearance in the Ninth Annual State Farm Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, August 22-23.
In addition to K-State, the tournament features three Final Four teams from last season, highlighted by defending national champion Southern California. The Wildcats will open their 2003 season in the tournament with a match against defending Western Athletic Conference champion Hawaii. Last season, the Rainbows went undefeated in conference and ended the season with a record of 34-2. After facing Hawaii, the Wildcats will meet either USC or Florida in the finale of the tournament.
While the opening tournament of the season features three Final Four teams from a year ago, the rest of the Wildcat non-conference schedule includes four NCAA tournament teams from last season. Included in the slate is a match against Michigan, a team K-State defeated in the first round of the 2002 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championships.
After facing the Wolverines in the opening round of the Florida State Invitational, the Wildcats will meet the host of the tournament, Florida State. The Seminoles finished last season with a record of 21-13 overall before falling in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Colorado State and South Florida complete the list of 2002 NCAA tournament participants the Wildcats will face during its non-conference portion of the schedule.
Other non-conference opponents for the Wildcats in 2003 include Florida Atlantic, Montana State, Alabama, Utah State, Louisiana State and Missouri-Kansas City. UMKC, who finished last season with a record of 14-18, will travel to Manhattan, Kan., on Tuesday, September 9, in the first home match of the season for the Wildcats.
The Big 12 Conference portion of the schedule is highlighted with an opening conference home match against Kansas and a stretch of four straight matches against conference opponents and NCAA tournament participants.
The Wildcats will host the Jayhawks on Wednesday, September 17, in the conference opener for both squads. The Jayhawks finished last season 19-10, including two losses to the Wildcats, and finished sixth in the conference.
In the middle of the conference season, K-State will face four straight matches against NCAA participants from a year ago. The Wildcats open the stretch by visiting Texas A&M before returning home to face Missouri. A trip to defending Big 12 champion Nebraska follows before ending the stretch with a home match against Texas.
The regular season schedule concludes for the Wildcats with three of their final five matches taking place at Ahearn Field House. In the final home stretch, the Wildcats will face Nebraska, Texas Tech and Texas A&M.
The schedule marks one of the toughest in recent history for the Wildcats. Of the 23 teams on the K-State schedule, 15 had winning records and 11 posted more than 20 wins during the 2002 season.
The Wildcats return eight starters from last year's 21-9 squad that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before falling to eventual Elite Eight participant Washington State.