Nov. 23, 2011
LUDWIG, WILDCATS PLAYING FOR NCAA INVITATION
By Mark Janssen
K-State Sports Extra
It’s looking good concerning NCAA Tournament time for the Kansas State volleyball team, but nothing is written in stone heading into tonight’s match at 7 in Ahearn Field House against the University of Kansas.
The Wildcats are 8-7, which is good for fourth place in the Big 12 standings, plus 19-10 overall going into action against the 2-12 and 14-13 Jayhawks.
“Right now it’s always on our mind. We know we have a chance, and we’re excited about it,” said K-State junior Kathleen Ludwig. “At the end of a season you’re always tired from the physical grind, but this gives us a little more motivation.
“We realize that your standing in the Big 12 truly does not matter, but it’s about your RPI and your opponents’ numbers and your opponents’ opponents’ numbers,” Ludwig said. Laughing, she continued, “I don’t know. It’s all Greek to me. We just need to focus on finishing out the season.”
This week, K-State stands fourth among Big 12 teams in RPI at No. 27 in the nation. That was behind No. 2 Iowa State, No. 4 Texas and No. 19 Texas A&M, and ahead of No. 28 Oklahoma, No. 32 Missouri, No. 45 Baylor, No. 47 Kansas and No. 101 Texas Tech.
“The Big 12 is such a competitive league, but it’s been disappointing to come up short (of the NCAA Tournament) the last two years,” said Ludwig. “It’s served as motivation this year to continue to get better.”
Get better is what Ludwig has done as a three-year contributor for coach Suzie Fritz’s Wildcats playing in 112 sets and averaging 2.36 kills per set as a redshirt freshman in 2009, and then 1.65 kills per game last year.
This year Ludwig has enjoyed five double-doubles in kills and digs against Missouri State, Missouri, Baylor, Texas A&M and Oklahoma and has averaged 2.29 kills per game. In addition, her .215 hitting percentage ranks second on the team among starters.
“I think my game has improved and the chemistry of this team working together on the court has improved. I feel a little more seasoned and the game has slowed down for me,” said Ludwig. “Having the game slowdown has been a big adjustment. It’s been a mental adjustment and a process, for sure.”
Ludwig added, “It’s been an exciting year and a rewarding year to see how we have come together and get along on the court and off.”
Tonight will be one of mixed emotions for the Ludwig family as her father, Lee, attended Medical School at the University of Kansas, while a collection of cousins attended K-State prior to Ludwig’s decision to become a Wildcat.
“I really wasn’t big one way or the other growing up, but I’m bleeding purple now,” said the K-State junior who played her prep volleyball at Bishop Miege High School in Kansas City where she earned Gatorade Player of the Year honors in her senior season, plus was a three-year letter-winner in track and field. “It’s been four years. I’m starting to feel old.”
With her years of experience, some things never change.
“I’ve been playing since I was six and it’s still so much fun,” said Ludwig. “You just can’t get down because of a mistake because volleyball is a game of mistakes. I’m still playing with a passion and becoming more and more infatuated with it.”
Having fun with the game hasn’t changed, and neither have the grades as Ludwig was one of six Wildcats to be named last week to the Big 12’s All-Academic Team.
“It’s a balancing act for sure. It’s all about time management,” said Ludwig, an elementary education major. “You just have to take advantage of our tutoring program, our academic advisors and keeping in mind what’s truly important.”
Tonight, that’s defeating the Kansas Jayhawks in Ahearn Field House.
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