Aug. 5, 2011
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Volleyball season is right around the corner, and Kansas State head coach Suzie Fritz is excited to see her team take the court for practice when the team reports for training camp next week. The Wildcats report for duty on Monday and begin practices Tuesday to prepare for the newly revamped Big 12 Conference season.
“What I’m excited about is the commitment they all made this summer to getting better,” Fritz said. “This is as committed of a team we’ve ever had in the summer. I told someone the other day that I don’t think there is another team in the country that outworked us this summer.”
The Wildcats return a young roster with no seniors on the squad for 2011, but Fritz said that does not mean her team lacks experience. Seven players have starting experience, four were freshmen last season, and the older players have taken the team under their wing to show the way to the younger Wildcats. K-State returns more than 75-percent of its kill production last season, 80-percent of its service aces and 97-percent of its blocks.
Last season, K-State closed the year with back-to-back wins and strong performances from the offense. Middle blockers Kaitlynn Pelger and Alex Muff shined against Kansas and Colorado, while outside hitter Lilla Porubek pounded out 16 kills against the Jayhawks and tallied six blocks to also help spark the Wildcats.
Fritz added her team ended the season on a positive note and would like to see that momentum continue into training camp next week for the upcoming season.
“I definitely feel we were a better team at the end of the season than we were at the beginning and the individual improvements made throughout the season played a role in that,” she said. “I’m excited to see where they are at now because we can’t instruct them in the summer and we’re not in the gym with them. So, I feel strongly that we made some improvements. I’m curious to see who has improved, how and in what areas.”
With the Big 12 down to nine teams in volleyball the schedule has been reworked to still keep the double round robin format, but it now includes more byes than in years past. Now instead of two off days, all teams will have four byes. Under this new format Fritz said she believes her team can utilize the extra days off to make more improvements during the season.
“I like how the schedule has come together with the new format,” Fritz said. “Having the fourth week of nonconference will help us to be more comfortable heading into the conference season. Having three to four additional nonconference matches, I feel, is a huge benefit to get another week. Having two additional byes during conference play allows time for you to work on whatever your team needs. It will give you more time to focus on you by having four byes and to get rest if you need it.”
The Wildcats will have three weeks to prepare for their first match when K-State travels to Atlanta to participate in the Georgia Tech Courtyard Classic. At the tournament, the Wildcats will take on host Georgia Tech, NCAA Tournament participant Louisville and Tennessee Tech. Then, K-State returns to Manhattan for its first home match of the season against Creighton, something Fritz is looking forward to.
The volleyball team has a close connection with the fans and recently players hand-delivered tickets to season ticket holders and thanked them for their support of the program.
“We have a more intimate environment for volleyball in Ahearn Field House, and I think the fans and players feel a stronger connection. We’ve been able to develop a more personal relationship with our fanbase,” Fritz said. “Volleyball at the highest level is a very exciting game, and the closer you are to the action you feel like you’re a part of the action.”
That exciting action and the loyal fans helped K-State rank 18th in the nation in attendance during the 2010 season. The Wildcats regularly rank among the best in attendance, and tickets are still available for the 2011 season. For more information on tickets call 1-800-221-CATS or go online to kstatesports.com.