SE: A Quick Look at the 2015 K-State Volleyball Squad

 K-State volleyball kicks off its 2015 campaign tomorrow afternoon as it travels to Coral Gables, Florida, for the Hurricane Invitational. The Wildcats’ season opener is against Florida A&M at 4 p.m. (CT) on Friday at the James L. Knight Sports Complex, while on Saturday, K-State will face Illinois State (9:30 a.m. CT) and tournament-host Miami (6:30 p.m. CT).
  
K-State enters this year coming off of a 22-win season in 2014 and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats return eight letterwinners and 11 total players from last year’s squad, including its top three players in kills as well as its starting setter and libero. 
  
Prior to the new season kicking off, here are three things K-State Sports Extra wants you to know about this year’s Wildcat volleyball squad:
  
1. They’re Young
After losing five letterwinners from last year’s team, the 2015 edition of K-State volleyball team has no seniors on its roster. The youthful group is made up of four juniors, four sophomores and seven freshmen. It marks the first time since 2011 that K-State will not have any seniors on the court. 
  
The most experienced Wildcat of the group is redshirt junior Katie Brand. She has played in a team-leading 221 sets and started every match over the past two seasons (60 matches). 
   
“Brand is a redshirt junior, (Katie) Reininger is a redshirt junior, (Kersten) Kober is a junior; (they) have all played significant time and have had significant roles, so we don’t feel leaderless,” said Wildcat head coach Suzie Fritz. “There have been years when we have had a bunch of seniors and felt leaderless, so it’s not necessarily a reflection of our ability to lead. We have players that have significant experience and that’s really, in my opinion, the only thing that matters.”
  
Here’s a look at how the team stacks up:
Juniors
Katie Brand, setter, Grand Island, Nebraska
Katie Reininger, middle blocker, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Kersten Kober, libero, Southlake, Texas
Brooke Sassin, outside hitter, San Antonio, Texas
  
Sophomores
Kylee Zumach, outside hitter, Buffalo, Minnesota
Bryna Vogel, outside hitter, Clearwater, Kansas
Bailey Shurbet, setter, San Antonio, Texas
Mattie Batchelder, defensive specialist, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  
Freshmen
(Redshirt) Devan Fairfield, defensive specialist, Grain Valley, Missouri
(Redshirt) Sami Flattum, opposite, Lakeville, Minnesota
(Redshirt) Makenzie Holcomb, middle blocker, Derby, Kansas
Macy Flowers, middle blocker, Chanute, Kansas
Zsofia Gyimes, middle blocker, Budapest, Hungary
Kelsey Schroll, middle blocker, Manhattan, Kansas
Alyssa Schultejans, outside hitter, Silver Lake, Kansas
  
2. They’re Fun
All it takes is a few minutes with this year’s Wildcat volleyball team and they’ll have you smiling and laughing. From the youngest to the oldest players, the group is made up of a plethora of unique, giddy and fun-loving personalities. 
  
Need proof? You can click here to watch the 'Alyssa & Kylee Show,' put together by K-StateHD.TV – I can guarantee it’ll put a smile on your face. 
  
However, though the team is light-hearted off the court, when it comes time to work and better themselves on the court, Wildcat head coach Suzie Fritz says they know when to tone it down. 
  
“They do have a lot of fun together, but I like the fact that they’re starting to figure out when it’s appropriate,” said Fritz with a smile. “They’re goofy, they’re silly and they are fun by nature, but fun to me is a byproduct of doing things well over time. So my definition of fun and their definition of fun is not always the same, but what I do like is that there is starting to be a maturity to them in terms of managing their looseness in a more productive way. They’re working together better than we got out of them last year.” 
  
3. They’re Talented
For the first time since 2012, K-State has multiple players – Brand and Zumach – named to the All-Big 12 preseason team. Brand, an All-America Honorable Mention a season ago, finished second in the Big 12 in assists per set for overall matches en route to her first career All-Big 12 First Team honor in 2014. 
  
Zumach became the only Big 12 Freshman of the Year in K-State history last year after a debut season where she broke the school’s freshman record for kills with 412. Also an All-America Honorable Mention, she ranked fourth in the conference in kills per set (3.55) and fifth in points per set (3.87), and she is one of only three sophomores on this year’s All-Big 12 Preseason Team. 
  
While Brand and Zumach will be looked to as assets for the team’s success, the talent doesn’t stop there. Reininger and Sassin combined for a total of 1,516 attacks last year, while Sassin’s 312 kills were second most on the team and Reininger’s 269 kills were third. 
  
“I have high expectations all the time. I think we have to consistently exceed (expectations),” said Fritz on her hopes for her team. “I don’t care about what other people think where we’re going to be. I care a lot about getting them as far as they can get and, in some ways, exceeding their expectations. That’s the challenge – where they think they are. It’s not about what I think most of the time. It’s about getting them beyond where they think they can be.”
  
And when it comes to the newcomers, Flowers has already caught her coach and teammates’ eye. According to Fritz, “she is exceeding expectations.” 
  
Flowers, a 6-foot-3 middle blocker from Chanute, Kansas, shined earlier this month at the Purple/White Scrimmage as she hit .429 and finished the match with 10 kills on 21 attempts while recording a match-high eight blocks. 
  
Fellow freshman Schultejans also stood out during the Purple/White Scrimmage. The Silver Lake native had a match-high 21 kills, which should be no surprise considering she holds the Kansas high school record for career kills (1,985). 
  
“We’re really excited to see what this team can do this year,” said Brand. “We were pretty young last year, even though we lost four seniors that were huge parts of our team. We feel like we have been able to fill those roles (from last year’s departures), and those people that were really young last year have really stepped up this year.”
  
  
And there you have it: three things to take note of about this year’s exciting group of Wildcats before the opening of the 2015 season. 
  
For more information on the upcoming Hurricane Invitational, pleaseclick here for game notes and a tournament preview. 
  
While K-State is on the road this week, the team will make its home debut at the Varney’s Invitational, held in Bramlage Coliseum from Sept 4-5. For more information about the Cats first home competitions, please click here
  

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