Aug. 9, 2002
Manhattan, Kan. -
With the 2002 season set to start in exactly three weeks, members of the Kansas State women's volleyball team reported for fall two-a-days on Friday beginning at 8:30 a.m. The team will practice twice a day for 12 of the next 17 days until August 26 when fall classes begin on the Kansas State campus.
"I am really excited to get started this year," said Wildcat head coach Suzie Fritz. "Like the last six years, there are tremendous expectations for this team, and we are excited to finally get in the gym and start preparing these players for what is going to be a challenging year. We know that we have a long way to go in a short period of time, but we embrace the challenges that lay ahead."
Fritz and her coaching staff welcomed 15 players to campus on Friday, including three starters and five other letterwinners from a 2001 squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament for a school-record sixth consecutive season. The team's lone senior, Jennifer Pollard, joins junior middle blocker Lauren Goehring and sophomore setter Gabby Guerre, as returning starters for the Wildcats in 2002. The team also returns extensive experience in backup setter Laura Downey-Wallace, reserve outside hitter Cari Jensen and solid defensive specialists Kris Jensen and Jami Sleichter.
With the start of fall drills, Fritz announced that Pollard and Downey-Wallace were elected by the team to serve as captains. Pollard has started 46 of 58 matches over the last two years at outside hitter, while Downey-Wallace, who married former K-State basketball player Donnie Wallace in May, will man the new libero position for the Wildcats. During the offseason, the NCAA Volleyball Rules Committee adopted the libero (pronounced LEE-bah-ro) as a designated back-row player who cannot serve, attack or set the ball. The libero can replace any player without counting as a substitution and will wear a different-colored uniform than her teammates. The change is the second in as many years the coaches have adopted to align the college game more with the international level. Last year, the NCAA instituted the rally-scoring format for all games of a match.
Of the 15 players who reported on Friday, the team welcomed six newcomers, including two Division II transfers. Manhattan native Kristen Foote joins the team for her final year of eligibility as a transfer from South Carolina-Aiken, while Michaela Franklin recently transferred to K-State after spending her freshman year at Northern Michigan. Middle blocker Joy Hamlin and outside hitter Jamie Perkins highlight a four-member freshman class. Both Hamlin and Perkins signed with the Wildcats in December after stellar high school careers and are joined by recent additions, outside hitter Faaalo Taumanupepe and middle blocker Molly Lindquist.
The six new players will attempt to aid in the loss of three starters from the 2001 season, including four-year starters and 2001 first team All-Big 12 selections Liz Wegner and Lisa Mimick.
Kansas State concluded the 2001 season with a 20-8 overall record and 15-5 mark in Big 12 play, highlighted by the program's sixth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. For the first time since the NCAA changed the tournament to a 64-team bracket, the Wildcats hosted first- and second-round action at Ahearn Field House where they played host to Arkansas, Oral Roberts and defending national champion Nebraska. After defeating the Lady Razorbacks to advance to the second round for the fourth straight season, the Wildcats lost to eventual Final Four participant Nebraska in four games. K-State ended the season ranked 18th in the final AVCA poll, its fourth consecutive final Top 25 ranking.
Kansas State will open the 2002 season on Saturday, August 24 when the team hosts the annual Alumni match and Purple and White scrimmage at Ahearn Field House beginning at 5 p.m. Admission is free to public. The Wildcats officially begin the regular season on Friday, August 30 against reigning Mountain West Conference champion Colorado State at the University Park Holiday Inn Classic in Fort Collins, Colo. The first home match will be Tuesday, Sept. 3, as K-State renews its rivalry with Wichita State beginning at 7 p.m. The Wildcats and Shockers, who have met 48 times since 1974, haven't met each other since the 1998 season.