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Cats, Hawks Open Big 12 Play

By Mark Janssen
 
 
To hear Kansas State volleyball coach Suzie Fritz talk, it really is "just another match" ... just one of 20 in Big 12 play.
 
The match in question is tonight at 7 p.m. in Ahearn Field House as 5-5 Kansas State opens the Big 12 season against the 9-2 Kansas Jayhawks.
 
"No more emphasis or no less emphasis than we put on any other match," Fritz said of opening a league year against an archrival. "I think there's a natural excitement about the match because of all of the Kansas kids involved, and it is a rivalry, but I don't put any more emphasis on playing Kansas."
Fritz would add, "I want to win them all and I'm really not concerned about the order."
 
In the series history, K-State holds the advantage, 58-41, which includes a dominating 24-4 record against the Jayhawks since the start of Big 12 play.
 
The first third of the season left the Wildcats at 5-5, with each of the five losses being to nationally ranked teams in No. 16 UCLA, No. 5 Hawaii, No. 22 San Diego, No. 17 Florida State and No. 16 Kentucky.
 
Four of the Wildcat victories have been in three-games over Loyola Marymount, Oral Roberts, Georgia Tech and Virgina Commonwealth, plus a 3-1 win over South Dakota.
 
Fritz said six months ago she would have been happy with a 5-5 record in the first 10 matches, but as it played out, she said, "Once the season started, the expectations got higher. They earned those expectations. So from a record perspective, it would have been nice to win one of those from this past weekend (Florida State and Kentucky) where we went five games but lost.
 
"It's certainly a sign of progress, and we are getting better and better," said Fritz, "but now we need to fix the little things that will put us over the top."
 
Fritz gave the nod to No. 4 ranked Nebraska as the preseason Big 12 favorite. The Cornhuskers rank only behind Stanford, Penn State and Florida in the national polls.
 
Also ranked from the Big 12 are No. 8 Texas and No. 11 Iowa State, while Missouri and Oklahoma are also receiving top 25 votes.
 
Through the early season, Nebraska and Iowa State have lost just one match, while Kansas and Missouri have two blemishes. Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado each have three losses.
 
Of the league, Fritz said, "It's as good as ever and ranks among the top three in the nation ... Pac 10, Big Ten, Big 12."
 
K-State's 5-5 record puts them ninth among the 11 teams that play Big 12 volleyball, and leaving Fritz to say, "I don't know. I don't know," when asked where K-State might fit in the Big 12 mix. "I don't know because I really haven't prepared for any of the league teams. I just haven't paid any attention to them."
 
After tonight, K-State travels to Texas Tech on Saturday for a match starting at noon.
 
SERVICES FOR ZENDER: Funeral services for former Kansas State basketball player Bob Zender will take place on Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Village Presbyterian Church on Mission Road in Prairie Village, Kansas.
 
Zender, a native of Wyckoff, N.J., played for the Wildcats from the 1969-70 season through the 1971-72 campaign.
 
KICK TIME FOR CENTRAL FLORIDA ANNOUNCED: Kansas State's game against Central Florida on September 25 is 11:30 a.m. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net from Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
 
Tickets remain on sale for as low as $20, or $75 for a Wildcat 4-Pack. Fans are also encouraged to buy a $10 ticket and donate it to a Fort Riley soldier.
 
Tickets are available for the remaining home games through www.kstatesports.com, the K-State Athletics Ticket Office, or by calling 1-800-221-CATS.
 
 
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com.