Wildcats Open Season at Mortar Board Premier
Setting the Scene
Fans can stay up to date with the K-State volleyball team during the tournament at k-statesports.com. Purdue’s athletics site will also be hosting a site dedicated to the tournament. Fans can follow the entire Mortar Board Premier at
The Wildcats have faced teams from Duke’s and Tennessee State’s respective conferences with K-State holding a 4-3 record against the Atlantic Coast Conference. Head coach Suzie Fritz is 3-1 against the ACC. K-State has a 2-2 record against teams from the Ohio Valley Conference, and this will be Fritz’s first meeting against an OVC team. In their last meeting with the Boilermakers, the Wildcats got the 3-0 sweep. Purdue claimed victory in 1987 in five sets. K-State is 14-32-1 all-time against the Big Ten, and Fritz is an even 3-3 in her seven years.
Kansas State: Suzie Fritz (Florida Atlantic 94) enters her eighth season leading the Wildcats. She holds the highest winning percentage in school history and is 22 wins shy of taking the top spot at K-State.
Purdue: Dave Shondell (Ball State 81) is in his sixth year with the Boilermakers and has taken the team to four straight NCAA Tournament berths, including back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances in 2005 and 2006.
Tennessee State: Kathy Roulhac (North Carolina A&T 87): begins her fifth year at Tennessee State after taking the Tigers to their first NCAA Tournament last season. She’s tallied 229 career wins and is 67-66 at Tennessee State.
Scouting the Tigers
The duo of Christian Lowe and Candace Saleaumua both received preseason nods from the OVC. Lowe pounded out 380 kills last season while adding 410 digs. She ranked 10th in the OVC in blocks per game as well. Saleaumua led Tennessee State in digs (3.53 dpg) and assists (10.39 apg) as the setter. She ranked eighth in the conference in assists.
The Tigers will be a young team in 2008 with nine newcomers and just the pair of Lowe and Saleaumua returning from the OVC Championship team.
Tennessee State was one of the strongest teams at the net defensively in 2007 averaging 3.12 blocks per set and ranked 19th in the nation. The Tigers also ranked 63rd in digs at 17.98 dpg.
The OVC champs lose both their All-OVC second team members, with Lowe earning All-Newcomers honors. All three players named to the OVC All-Tournament team also are gone, including tournament MVP Endia Oliver, who was second in the nation in blocks (1.83 bpg).
Scouting the Blue Devils
The Blue Devils return four starters from last year’s squad, including Rachel Moss. As a sophomore, Moss averaged 4.09 kills a game and 3.38 digs. One of the team’s most efficient attackes is back in Jourdan Norman, who hit .393 last year. Both Moss and Norman were named to the Preason All-ACC Team.
The team lost three key players from last year’s campaign in setter Ali Hausfeld, libero Jenny Shull and middle blocker Carrie DeMange. All three held numerous school career and single-season records, including DeMange’s ACC record for career kills at 1,976.
Duke climbed as high as No. 11 in the AVCA Coaches Poll -- the highest in school history. The Blue Devils are receiving votes in the Preseason AVCA Poll.
Scouting the Boilermakers
The Boilermakers return six starters from last year’s team as well after losing two with starting experience. They are led by the trio of Stephanie Lynch, Danita Merlau and Kelli Miller. Lynch pounded out 3.53 kills per game and averaged 1.38 blocks as well at the middle blocker position. Merlau leads all returners with 3.71 kpg and 3.21 dpg. Libero patrolled the back row at 4.63 dpg.
The entire offense is back for K-State, including All-American Nataly Korobkova and All-Big 12 Honorable Mention Megan Farr. Korobkova is joined by seniors Rita Liliom and Jenny Jantsch on the outside with sophomore JuliAnne Chisholm looking to make an impact this year as well. Farr and junior Kelsey Chipman protect the middle and are two of the top middle blockers in the Big 12 Conference as the Wildcats set a school record for total blocks and block assists in 2007.
On the back row, sophomore Lauren Mathewson is expected to take over the libero position that was manned by Lastra the last four years. The setter position is a competition between redshirt freshman Abby Fay and juco transfer Soriana Pacheco.
As a team, the Wildcats were among the top teams in the Big 12 in nearly every category in 2007. The Wildcats were fourth in team hitting percentage and kills per game as well as third in assists. Defensively, K-State was fourth in opponent hitting percentage and third in blocks.
K-State will play another tough nonconference schedule to prepare for the battles they will face in the Big 12. Before facing their rivals in league play, the Wildcats will take on five teams that reached the NCAA Tournament -- Tennessee State, Duke, Purdue, Northern Iowa and Liberty.
New Rules of the Court
Substitution changes limit the number of substitutions that can be made, which results mainly from lowering the score necessary to win sets. The winning score for Sets 1-4 is now 25 points rather than the 30 adopted with the switch to rally scoring in 2001. Fifteen points is still the mark to reach in a fifth set, and teams still must win by at least two points.
Wildcats Making the Grade
K-State Picked Third in Big 12
The coaches of the Big 12 also selected its annual Preseason All-Big 12 Team and recognized three of K-State’s student-athletes. Outside hitters Nataly Korobkova and Rita Liliom were joined by middle blocker Megan Farr on the team. Korobkova and Farr both earned All-Big 12 recognition following the 2007 season.
K-State is joined by fellow Big 12 teams Texas (3), Nebraska (7) and Iowa State (18) in the poll. Texas A&M, Missouri and Oklahoma also all received votes in the preseason poll. Two of the Wildcats’ nonconference opponents were recognized by the voting coaches. Purdue closed out the poll at No. 25 while Duke is receiving votes.
An All-American Debut
Her 498 kills ranks fifth all-time at K-State for a single season. She proved to be able to rack up kills by the bunches and notched eight matches with 20 or more kills. Those eight matches rank No. 6 in school history for a single season. It also catapulted her into the top 10 for her career as well.
All her efforts on the court for the Wildcats earned her a spot on the AVCA All-America Third Team to become the eighth All-American in school history.
Korobkova’s All-America recognition was just her final award for the season. She was named AVCA All-Central Region First Team and All-Big 12 First Team. Korobkova also became the school’s second volleyball student-athlete to be named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year
Not Farr to Reach
Chip Off the ol’ Block
Chipman is just outside the Top 10 in career blocks with two years of eligibility remaining at K-State. She holds school records for most block assists in a five-set match and a postseason three-set match. Chipman also is poised to have more 10-block matches than any player at K-State with three more such matches. In 2007, Chipman had three matches with 10 or more blocks to tie the school record for a single season.
Four of the top five individual performances for a five-set match all came in 2007. Nataly Korobkova, Megan Farr and Kelsey Chipman all proved to be hard to get through at the net for the Wildcats.
Aces are Wild
The streak started on Nov. 13, 1998, in a 3-1 win over Missouri in Ahearn Field House. The last time K-State failed to register a service ace was on Nov. 7, 1998 in a 3-1 win over Colorado.
One current Wildcat has played a big role in keeping the streak alive. Senior outside hitter Jenny Jantsch is creeping up the rankings at K-State with 102 career service aces. Her 51 aces in 2006 rank seventh in school history and she is just outside the top 10 in career aces.
No Smokin’ Aces
Fritz Chasing 168
During her time as head coach, Fritz has taken the Wildcats to their first conference championship claiming the Big 12 title in 2003. She also has twice been named Big 12 Coach of the Year and was the 2003 Central Region Coach of the Year.
Fritz Era Gets Vote of Confidence
Terrific Trio Ends Career
Lastra ended her time at K-State ranked No. 1 in school history for 20-dig matches in a career (35) and a season (15 in 2007). She also has played more games in Purple than any other player at 465. Lastra finished her career strong with an All-Central Region Honorable Mention, Big 12 Libero of the Year and All-Big 12 Honorable Mention and her third first team Academic All-Big 12 honor. Her 575 digs in 2007 bested the all-time high at KSU by 17 to put her atop the list for a single season and career (2,032).
Rosenthal ended her career with 663 digs. She posted a season-high 15 in a win over Baylor and followed it the next match with 14 against Kansas. She also earned her second Academic All-Big12 first team honor and was selected as a co-captain by her teammates.
Spiegelberg finished her career ranked fourth in career assists with 4,540. Her 1,590 assists in 2007 were the most ever by a senior at K-State and ranked third all-time. She received All-Big 12 Honorable Mention in her senior campaign and Academic All-Big 12 first team for a third time.
Four of the top 10 individual hitting seasons have happened during the Fritz era with middle blockers Megan Farr and Kelsey Chipman each making the list in 2007.
The Wildcats also are a t eam that can attack their opponent from anywhere on the court. In 2007, five different players led the team in kills in a match. It could be more of the same this season as all five of those players -- Korobkova (17 times), Liliom (12), Jantsch (2), Chipman (2) and Farr (1) -- all return to continue taking the offensive against opponents.
Warm Wildcat Welcome
Pacheco comes to K-State from junior college power Western Nebraska where she helped lead the Cougars to the NJCCA National Championship last season and the championship match her freshman year. She is a two-time junior college All-American and was named Junior College Player of the Year last season. She is expected to compete for the starting setter position alongside redshirt freshman Abby Fay.
Grot adds to the strong list of international players already on the Wildcat volleyball team and a lot of experience at a high level. Grot helped her club team in Poland reach the final tournament of the Junior Polish Championship three times. She also played for the Junior National Team from 2003-05.
The final two newcomers are both products of the state of Kansas to join a roster filled with student-athletes mainly from Kansas. Delimont brings two league MVP’s with her from Andover High School and a Class 4A state championship. Ludwig also was a two-time league MVP in high school at Bishop Miege where she helped lead the team to a 5A State Championship. She received a number of accolades her senior season including the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year and the prestigious Evelyn Gates Award.