Kansas State Ranked #19 in AVCA/USA Today Preseason Top 25 Poll
Aug. 14, 2001
Colorado Springs, Colo. - For the third consecutive year, the Kansas State women's volleyball team earned a ranking in the preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA)/USA Today Top 25 poll, as the Wildcats checked in at No. 19 in the annual poll released Tuesday afternoon by the organization.
Kansas State earned its highest-ever preseason ranking in 2000 when the AVCA ranked the Wildcats No. 17 in its annual poll, while the program received its first-ever preseason ranking in 1999 when the coaches ranked the Wildcats at No. 23.
Defending NCAA champion Nebraska is the overwhelming favorite by the coaches to repeat as national champions, as the Cornhuskers received 63 out of the 65 first-place votes and finished ahead of second-place Southern California by 151 points. The rest of the Top 5 includes 1999 NCAA champion Penn State at No. 3, 2000 NCAA runner-up Wisconsin at No. 4 and Final Four participant Hawai'i at No. 5.
Kansas State received 354 total points from the 65-member coaching panel to become one of three Big 12 teams to receive a ranking in the preseason poll. Overall, the poll featured three Big 12 teams - No. 1 Nebraska, No. 18 Texas A&M and No. 19 Kansas State - along with four other schools - Missouri, Colorado, Texas Tech and Baylor - who received 14 or more votes.
Kansas State returns seven letterwinners, including four starters, from a team that finished 22-9 overall and advanced to the round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. The Wildcats return a number of proven performers, including preseason All-Big 12 selection Liz Wegner, but must deal with the loss of four-year head coach Jim McLaughlin, who left earlier this month for Washington, and the loss of key starters Kelle Branting and Disney Bronnenberg.
"Obviously, this is a great honor for our program," said interim head coach Suzie Fritz. "However, our team and coaching staff doesn't put a lot of stock in preseason polls. We have our work cut out for us this year with such a tough schedule. We have to concentrate on getting better each day. If we do that, our position in the polls will take care of itself."
Kansas State will play six matches against four teams ranked in the poll, including four against three teams ranked in the organization's Top 10. In all, the Wildcats will play 17 matches against 11 teams that received votes in the preseason poll.
K-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 received votes in the poll, including three in the Top 10. The Wildcats begin the regular season on Fri., Aug. 31 against fifth-ranked Hawai'i at the 14th annual Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic in Honolulu, Hawai'i, followed by matches against seventh-ranked UCLA and Michigan to conclude the weekend. KSU will then play two other teams - Arkansas and Washington State - that received votes to poll in the annual Wildcat Classic, along with Houston, which has made 10 straight bids to the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas State opens the 2001 season with the annual Alumni match on Sat., Aug. 25 beginning at 5 p.m. in Ahearn Field House.
USA Today/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll 1 Nebraska 2 USC 3 Penn State 4 Wisconsin 5 Hawai'i 6 Arizona 7 UCLA 8 Long Beach State 9 Florida 10 Stanford 11 BYU 12 Pacific 13 UC Santa Barbara 14 Colorado State 15 Minnesota 16 Ohio State 17 Pepperdine 18 Texas A&M 19 Kansas State 20 Notre Dame 21 Utah 22 Santa Clara 23 South Carolina 24 Loyola Marymount 25 Georgia Tech
Others receiving points and listed on two or more ballots: Louisville (112), Missouri (109), Colorado (108), Washington State (102), Michigan State (88), North Carolina (62), Northern Iowa (58), Utah State (33), Michigan (26), Texas Tech (20), San Diego (18), South Florida (17), Tennessee (16), Arizona State (15), Baylor (14), Duke (13), Arkansas (12), Florida State (11), Western Michigan (9), Fairfield (8), Cal Poly (8), Northern Arizona (5), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (4), San Jose State (3).