Kansas State Volleyball Team Reports For Fall Camp
Aug. 8, 2001
MANHATTAN, Kan. - With the season set to start in less than a month, members of the Kansas State volleyball team reported for fall two-a-days on Tuesday beginning at 8:30 a.m. The team will practice twice a day until Aug. 20 when fall classes begin on the Kansas State campus.
Although the Wildcats return seven letterwinners, including four starters, from a team that finished 22-9 overall and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive season, the team is without a couple of steady constants from the last three years. Most importantly, the team is dealing with a new coach for the first time since 1997 as four-year assistant coach Suzie Fritz takes over on an interim basis for Jim McLaughlin, who left last week to take the head coaching job at Washington. The team will also be breaking in new starters in two key positions with the graduation of four-year starter Kelle Branting at middle blocker and the transfer of three-year starter Disney Bronnenberg at setter.
Despite these key losses from a team that advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history, Kansas State returns one of the best outside hitters in the Big 12 Conference in Liz Wegner, who was named to the Coaches' preseason all-conference team on Monday. A Volleyball magazine honorable mention All-American selection a year ago, Wegner needs just 180 kills her senior season to break Kim Zschau's (1995-98) career kills mark of 1,646.
Kansas State was picked to finish tied for fourth with Missouri in the Big 12 race by the conference coaches on Monday, following unanimous selection and reigning NCAA champion Nebraska, Texas A&M and Colorado.
"We're excited about getting started on preparations for the 2001 season," said Fritz. "All the girls have been waiting for this day since the 2000 season ended in December. They want to get started and improve on what they did last year. I'm personally excited about starting practice because the team can start focusing on the goals they have set for the coming season and we can get back to the business of playing volleyball again."
The 2000 season was arguably the best in the 26-year history of the Kansas State women's volleyball program. The Wildcats finished the season with a 22-9 overall record and a 14-6 mark in Big 12 play, highlighted by the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA round of 16. The team also received its highest-ever final national ranking at No. 16 in the USA Today/AVCA Top 25 poll, while it finished the Big 12 season in a school-best, three-way tie for second place in league action.
Kansas State will start the 2001 season with one of the toughest first three weeks in the nation, as seven of the team's first eight opponents advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season, including two that went to the Final Four. The Wildcats open the year with their annual alumni match on Sat., Aug. 25 beginning at 5 p.m. in Ahearn Field House. KSU officially begins the regular season on Fri., Aug. 31 against 2000 Final Four participant Hawai'i at the 14th annual Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic in Honolulu, Hawai'i. The first home match will be Fri., Sept. 7, as K-State hosts Arkansas in the second annual Wildcat Classic Tournament at Ahearn Field House.