SE: Bring on the Pressure

August 24, 2015

By Kelly McHugh-Stewart

Coming off one of the most impressive freshman seasons in Wildcat volleyball history, Kylee Zumach enters her sophomore campaign with, as expected, some added weight on her shoulders.

But, luckily for her, she performs well under pressure. 

As a matter of fact, she thrives under it. 

Recently named to the 2015 Big 12 Volleyball Preseason Team after earning Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors last year, Zumach will have more eyes on her this fall. 

“It does add a lot of pressure, but I love performing under pressure,” said Zumach. “I like it when people have high expectations for me because I know I can achieve them. It makes me feel good. Performing under pressure, it’s one of my favorite things to do.”

Cool and confident, yet nowhere near arrogant, Zumach’s personality is one of a kind. She has a happy-go-lucky, giddy nature about her – you’d be hard pressed to find her without a smile. 

She’s also laid back, fun-loving, goes with the flow; and she said she believes her personality translates well with her game on the court. 

Able to brush off a mistake and bounce back from anything, she said when it comes to volleyball, she simply has fun. She’s energetic, hard-working and passionate – all traits that she said helped her in achieving that exciting freshman year. 

As a true freshman, the outside hitter from Buffalo, Minnesota (a town of about 15,000 set 45 minutes northwest of Minneapolis) established the K-State freshman record with 412 kills and finished fourth in the Big 12 in kills per set (3.55) and fifth in points per set (3.87). Along with earning unanimous Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors, she earned AVCA Honorable Mention All-America honors, was named the AVCA Midwest Region Freshman of the Year, and to the AVCA Midwest All-Region and All-Big 12 First and Freshman teams. 

She was the first player in K-State history to garner five conference player of the week honors in one season, and her 226 kills in Big 12 matches marked the most by a freshman in the league since 2009. 

“I think like everybody else, she’s still getting better,” said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz about Zumach. “She had a tremendous freshman year, but she still has three more years ahead. So I think she has a lot ahead of her and I think she’s still capable of a lot of things. We’re going to ask her to do more and more as she goes; her expectations and demands are going to get greater.”

This season, there are no seniors on the Wildcat volleyball roster. Zumach is among a group made up of four juniors, four sophomores and seven freshmen. Although she is still young, Zumach is one the team’s most experienced players as she is just one of five Wildcats who have played in at least 100 sets at the collegiate level.

Despite the sophomore title, Zumach has already begun working to help her team as a leader. Elected by her teammates to the team’s Leadership Council – its version of captains – she spent the spring and the summer preparing her new, young teammates for what is to come. 

It’s a new role, especially compared to last season when Zumach was still learning the ropes herself, but it’s a role she’s come to embrace.

“Last season we just threw her into everything,” said redshirt junior setter Katie Brand, a fellow member on the Wildcats’ Leadership Council. “But I think this year she’s more mindful, and now she knows what’s coming. Last year she just kind of had to ride with it. This year, her leadership has stepped up because she knows what’s coming. She’s been trying to prepare everyone around her and it’s been really nice (having her in that role).”

Though she is taking on a new role filled with new responsibilities and new expectations, Zumach is ready for what lies ahead. She’s ready to be a team leader and ready to continue helping K-State volleyball to success.

“Seeing what I did last year, now I want to do more,” Zumach said, still wearing her usual smile. “I’m not satisfied with just that; I want more. I want to do better. I’m really excited for the season because we have an awesome team this year.”

K-State kicks off its 2015 campaign with a trip to Coral Gables, Florida, for the Hurricane Invitational this Friday and Saturday. The Wildcats will face Florida A&M in their season opener on Friday at 5 p.m. ET. On Saturday, K-State faces Illinois State in the morning before taking on tournament host Miami at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3.

Season tickets for K-State’s entire 11-match home schedule are available now and start at less than $3 per match. To purchase season tickets, fans can click here, call 1-800-221-CATS (2287) or stop by the K-State Athletics Ticket Office in Bramlage Coliseum.

Single-match tickets are also available. For more information and a list of the season’s exciting promotions, click here.

For information about the Varney’s Invitational, held in Bramlage Coliseum from Sept. 4-5, please click here.


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 Kelly McHugh-Stewart or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.