The Wildcats hit the road after winning all three matches of their homestand to take on rival Nebraska at 7 p.m. Saturday eyeing a milestone victory for head coach Suzie Fritz. Fritz is currently tied with Scott Nelson for the most career wins in Kansas State history and is going for the record against the No. 3 Cornhuskers this weekend.
Nebraska leads the Big 12 Conference standings and is looking to keep its cushion over Texas and K-State. The Wildcats and Cornhuskers are among the top teams statistically in the Big 12 Conference and played a tight match earlier this season in Manhattan. The two teams traded blows in the first two sets and the Cornhuskers barely edged out the Wildcats 25-22 in the third before K-State lost steam in the fourth set to fall 25-19 and lose to its rival.
The Huskers will be feeling the comforts of home after playing three of their last four matches on the road. Nebraska has not lost a home match since 2004 when the Cornhuskers fell to Florida A&M. The Wildcats are the last Big 12 team to defeat Nebraska in Lincoln with a 3-1 win in 2003. K-State remains one of the few teams to beat Nebraska more than once on the road.
The SeriesThe Wildcats and Cornhuskers have tangled 78 times on the volleyball court with Nebraska dropping just three of those meetings to K-State. The first time Kansas State defeated Nebraska came in 1999 in similar fashion to the match in Manhattan last year. K-State fell behind 2-0 to Nebraska before winning the next three sets for the win. K-State swept the series in 2003 winning in five sets in Lincoln and four sets in Manhattan. Since K-State’s last win over Nebraska, the Cornhuskers have taken the last nine matches.
Kansas State: Suzie Fritz (Florida Atlantic 94) is in her eighth season leading the Wildcats. She holds the highest winning percentage in school history and is one win shy of claiming the most career wins.
Nebraska: John Cook (San Diego 79) has led the Cornhuskers to two national championships since taking over the program in 2000. In his eight years with Nebraska, the team has lost just seven Big 12 Conference matches.
On the Tube
Saturday’s match will be broadcast on NET Television in Nebraska with Larry Puteney calling the action and Kathi Weiskamp on color commentary.
On the Airwaves
Saturday’s match will be broadcast on 1350 KMAN with Rob Voelker calling the action. Fans can also hear the match on the station’s Web site www.1350kman.com.
On the Web
Live stats and free video streaming for Saturday’s match will be available through www.huskers.com.
Scouting the Cornhuskers
Nebraska enters Saturday’s contest on a two-match winning streak after its first conference loss in 19 matches. The Cornhuskers fell to Colorado on the road in four sets. Nebraska dropped the first two sets 19-25, 25-27 and battled back to win the third but could not overcome the Buffaloes in the fourth set falling 16-25. It was Nebraska’s second loss in three years at Colorado.
Since the loss, the Cornhuskers have defeated Iowa State in four and Texas A&M in five. In their road match against the Aggies, the final set went the distance with Nebraska winning 15-13. The Cornhuskers hit just .178 in the win and had three players reach double digits in kills.
Tara Mueller led the way with 19 while Jordan Larson added 17 and Lindsey Licht had 12. Kayla Banwarth led the defense with 27 digs in the win.
The Cornhuskers have one of the top defenses in the conference holding opponents to a .131 hitting percentage -- the lowest in the Big 12. Nebraska also leads the conference in blocks averaging 2.67 per set. Banwarth is third in the Big 12 in digs averaging 4.32 per set.
Larson and Mueller represent Nebraska’s top offensive threats. Larson leads the Cornhuskers in kills with 294 and is averaging 3.77 per set. Mueller is right behind her averaging 3.46 kills. Larson tied her career-high 21 kills in Nebraska’s visit to Ahearn Field House earlier this season.
New setter Sydney Anderson has proven herself for the Cornhuskers as well leading the team to a .263 hitting percentage -- second in the conference. Nine times she has helped steer the Huskers to hit .300 or higher in a match this season.
Nebraska opened the year with huge wins over powerhouse programs at the Runza/AVCA Showcase. The Cornhuskers swept No. 2 Stanford 25-17, 25-19, 26-24 and followed that performance with a 3-1 win over No. 4 USC. The Huskers defeated the Women of Troy 25-27, 25-19, 25-17, 25-18. After the Showcase, Nebraska rocketed up the Top 25 poll from No. 7 to No. 2.
The Cornhuskers have been able to close the door on their opponents quickly this season as 15 of their 22 wins have come in sweeps. Their five-set match with A&M on Wednesday was their first of the season.
Catching Up with the Cats
Kansas State enters Saturday’s contest after winning all three matches of its homestand against Texas A&M, Kansas and Oklahoma. The Wildcats are now on a four-match winning streak after falling in five to Iowa State on the road. K-State has played a number of long matches of late going five with Iowa State, Baylor and A&M.
The Wildcats held off a scrappy Oklahoma team on Wednesday night to get the win in four sets after going the distance in Norman earlier this season. K-State was led by Rita Liliom once again with 22 kills as the senior outside hitter has tallied double digit kills in every match. She also had her ninth double-double of the season with 11 digs. Libero Lauren Mathewson marked her seventh 20-dig match of the season with 27. She set her career-high in K-State’s previous match with OU at 30.
The Wildcats defeated the Sooners 25-20, 16-25, 25-23, 25-20 and held OU’s big hitters at bay. Francie Ekwerekwu had no kills on the night and the tandem of Suzy Boulavsky, Caitlin Higgins and Sarah Freudenrich each failed to reach double digits in kills. Bridget Laplante was the lone Sooner to reach double digits with 14 kills.
K-State remains firm in the top three of the conference standings holding a three-game lead over fourth place Iowa State. Texas stands just half a game ahead of the Wildcats and Nebraska stands atop the conference standings with a two-game lead over K-State and 11/2 games ahead of Texas.
Fritz Chasing 169
Kansas State volleyball coach Suzie Fritz is going for the school record in career wins in Saturday’s match. In her eighth season she has tied Scott Nelson with 168 win and is poised to add most career wins to her wrap sheet along with the school’s highest winning percentage. Nelson posted a 168-176-1 record from 1980-90.
This season Fritz notched her 150th career win against UC Irvine at the Nike Portland Invitational. She tied the mark in K-State’s last match against Oklahoma.
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.