K-STATE TO FACE CHINA IN VOLLEYBALL EXHIBITION
By Mark Janssen
Calling it a "tremendous opportunity," Kansas State's volleyball team will be entertaining China's Bridgestone Tianjin professional team this afternoon at 5 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum.
"It will be some of the fastest, yet most controlled volleyball that you're going to see," said K-State coach Suzie Fritz. "Teams from China are very well known for their efficiency. Their game is built on timing, yet their offense is very fast developing."
The Tianjin club, which has won its league in seven of the last 10 years, is on an American tour traveling through the country and playing a number of matches against university teams. Following its match against K-State, Tianjin will travel north to play Nebraska.
"There will be members of this team that have been on the Chinese National team, or will be Olympians some day," said Fritz, who added that five games will be played.
There are more than 1,000 K-State students and staff members from China, which leads Sara Thurston-Gonzalez, Director of International Student and Scholar Services, to say, "We are so pleased to have worked together with K-State Athletics on this event. What an exciting opportunity to have this caliber of an international team come to K-State."
K-State has arranged for the Tianjin team members to stay with host families in Manhattan, plus the two teams will have lunch prior to the match.
Part of the partnership with K-State Athletics and the International Student and Scholar Services was to get the entire international student body involved in the event, as this week also is the annual International Championships at the K-State Recreation Complex. During the match, champions of the International Championships will be recognized and championship events still to be contested will be announced.
Fans are encouraged to arrive at Bramlage Coliseum early for the pregame festivities, which will include the national anthem from each country.
The event is free to the public.
After the volleyball match, fans are encouraged to attend the K-State vs. Texas Tech baseball game at Tointon Family Stadium with play beginning at 6:30 p.m. Games are also set for Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
IT'S BEEN A BUSY SPRING FOR WILDCATS
K-State's spring volleyball season came to an end over the weekend, as the Wildcats sent a split squad against Arkansas State, Wichita State, Missouri State, Kansas and UMKC in matches staged at Blue Valley West High School in Kansas City.
Earlier this spring, K-State played in events at Nebraska against the Cornhuskers and Creighton; at Washburn against Washburn and Emporia State; and at Nebraska-Kearney against the host school, Iowa State and Colorado State.
"In the fall, you're allowed four playing dates, and you must drive to all of them," said Fritz. "In volleyball, you have 132 days to work with your team during the year. Whatever you don't use in the fall season, you are allowed to use in the spring. I think we've worked 43 days this spring."
With a team of two juniors and "a truck load of sophomores and freshmen," Fritz said, "It's been a good spring. I don't think I've enjoyed a team more than the one we have right now. They have an exceptional work ethic and strong desire to get better. We just need more time to get to where we need to be."
Fritz said wins and losses were "absolutely meaningless" this spring, but instead the focus has been on fundamentals.
"We've really stressed being in system and finding a tempo and a rhythm much like a quarterback and receiver have in football," said Fritz. "I think we've found ourselves in rhythm more often, and our hitters have been making better decisions."
K-State lost only two seniors from last year's 12-19 team in libero Lauren Mathewson and outside hitter JuliAnne Chisholm.
Top returnees are setter Caitlyn Donahue, middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger and outside hitter Lilla Porubek.
CURRENT K-STATE VOLLEYBALL ROSTER
• Caitlyn Donahue, 5-9, Setter, Jr., Overland Park, Kan.
• Chelsea Keating, 6-1, OH, Fr., Frankfort, Kan.
• Tristan McCarty, 5-9, Libero, Soph., Manhattan, Kan.
• Kathleen Ludwig, 6-0, Opp., Jr., Shawnee, Kan.
• Courtney Cook, 6-2, OH, Soph., Fremont Neb.
• Ashley Kelican, 5-10, Setter, Jr., Centennial, Colo.
• Alex Muff, 6-1, MB, Jr., Concordia, Kan.
• Audrey Horton, 6-1, MB, Soph., Topeka, Kan.
• Lilla Porubek, 6-1, OH, Soph., Budapest, Hungary
• Taylor Johnson, 6-0, MB, Fr., Grand Island, Neb.
• Dakota Kaufman, OH, Soph., Hillsboro, Kan.
• Kaitlynn Pelger, 6-2, MB, Soph., Overland Park, Kan.
• Courtney Traxson, 6-1, OH, Soph., Cheney, Kan.
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