Coaches strive for consistency. Deb Patterson does, Frank Martin does, Bill Snyder certainly does and so does Suzie Fritz with her Kansas State women's volleyball team.
"Through the weekend, I honestly thought we played better and better with each match, which is all we can ask for," said Fritz of the Wildcats' sweep of Loyola Marymount, Oral Roberts and Georgia Tech in the Varney's Invitational.
But then came practice on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
"I have not been pleased with how we have practiced coming off a productive weekend," said Fritz, who will have her team at the Kentucky Invitational today and Saturday. "We have to get them to realize the importance of improvement to exceed the expectations some have for us. We must get better day to day."
Fritz declines to blame the youth of the team - 15 freshmen and sophomores - for the modest rollercoaster ride. Instead, she says, "Every team goes through moments of complacency and playing without a sense of urgency. Every team does, but this team can't afford that."
Fritz says that her 4-3 team is further ahead defensively than offensively, so, "In practice, we've focused on offense and the things we're not very good at."
While seniors Lauren Mathewson and JuliAnne Chisholm have played to their experience level, the brightest of the newcomers have been 6-foot-2 middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger out of Olathe South High School, as well as Manhattan High product and defensive specialist Tristan McCarty.
"Those two came in last January and got an early start with the team," said Fritz. "That's really been an advantage over the kids who didn't show up until the summer. For the demands on Kaitlynn as a middle blocker, she's been very solid, and I think of all the players, Tristan has made the most improvement from last spring until now."
THIS WEEKEND: This weekend's action at the Kentucky Invitational will have K-State playing No. 17 Florida State (5-1) at 10 a.m., this morning and Virginia Commonwealth (1-6) at 4 p.m. Saturday, K-State plays No. 16 Kentucky (4-3) at 4 p.m.
All of the matches can be heard in the Manhattan area on KMAN (1350 AM) or online at www.1350kman.com.
EARLY BIG 12 PLAY: It's early, but the Wildcats are first in the Big 12 in blocks at 3.20. K-State also has several individuals that rank highly in the conference statistics:
• Kaitlynn Pelger, second in blocks at 1.39
• Alex Muff, second in blocks at 1.39
• Lauren Mathewson, fourth in digs at 4.57
• JuliAnne Chisholm, seventh in kills at 3.43
• JuliAnne Chisholm, seventh in points at 3.98
• Caitlyn Donahue, seventh in assists at 9.35
• Alex Muff, eighth in hitting percentage at .362
IN THE POLLS: The latest national polls have Texas at No. 5, Nebraska at No. 7 and Iowa State at No. 11. Also receiving votes are Missouri and Baylor.
UP NEXT: The rigors of Big 12 volleyball play await the Wildcats next with an opening match on Wednesday, September 15 at 7 p.m., against arch-rival Kansas in Ahearn Field House. K-State completes the first week of the league season at Texas Tech on Saturday, September 18.
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