SE: Turning the Corner

The K-State volleyball team (11-7, 3-3 Big 12) will tackle perhaps its biggest challenge of the 2015 season this evening.

The Wildcats are set to face the No. 2 Texas Longhorns (16-1, 6-0 Big 12) in Bramlage Coliseum at 6 p.m., in a nationally-televised matchup on ESPNU. 

“Texas is an extraordinary volleyball team,” said Wildcat head coach Suzie Fritz. “They’ve lost one set in league play so far this year, so it will be a significant challenge. I think we just need to keep fighting to come together and be as good as we can be on our side. We need to control the things we can control.”

Taking on Texas will be no easy task, but K-State has been playing its best volleyball of the season recently and enters tonight matchup having won back-to-back matches, including an impressive 3-0 sweep at Oklahoma last Friday – the first time the Sooners had been swept all year.

“I thought we played extraordinarily well (against Oklahoma), which is exciting because there was a really tough stretch for us where we were kind of trying to get some people comfortable in their roles and in their positions,” said Fritz. “We were fighting through some injuries and having to play a lot of road matches. I don’t want to make excuses for us, but it was tough. There came a point in that stretch where you’re concerned with your team’s mentality: can they work through this?”

Despite facing a tough stretch – the young Wildcat team has played 10 of its last 12 matches on the road – K-State has overcome adversity, grown together and is now clicking on all cylinders. 

“I felt like Oklahoma was that moment where things came together for us,” continued Fritz. “We played with tremendous confidence. We had everyone playing well at the same time and, on the road, that’s not easy to do. On both sides of the ball, in every facet, we were pretty good.”

And Fritz is right; K-State was pretty good against Oklahoma. 

The Wildcats’ win over the Sooners marked the first time K-State won in Norman since 2008. In the sweep, K-State hit .366 and stepped up on defense, limiting Oklahoma to its lowest attack percentage this season while matching its season-high in blocks (13).

The players say their recent success comes from a newfound trust in each other both on and off the court; a trust that leads to chemistry and added confidence with every play. 

“We’ve focused on confidence a lot lately,” said freshman outside hitter Alyssa Schultejans. “We’ve been building each other up. That really helps when you have each other’s backs and know that no matter what happens, you have your whole team behind you. That’s really helped to have that in your back pocket.” 

Added junior setter Katie Brand, “It was a comfort thing. We really clicked. Our chemistry was really good and everyone felt very comfortable with each other and trusted each other very well. Sometimes when you get down or the other team gets rolling, you can get down a little bit, but we didn’t feel that way at all.”

Heading into tonight’s matchup, the Wildcats will need to continue building on the confidence gained at Oklahoma. They’ll need to keep their trust in each other and stick together to overcome a Texas team that has won 12 consecutive matches and not dropped a Big 12 road match since November 2012.

“We’re starting to turn the corner,” said Schultejans. “I think we’re always striving to be better than we were in the last game, the last practice. We’re never satisfied, but we’re starting to go in the right direction and build with what we have.”

Tonight’s game is K-State’s Cats for the Cure match. The first 100 fans in the doors will receive a free pink scarf, and all fans are encouraged to wear pink. Doors open at 5 p.m.

For more information on tonight’s matchup, please click here. 

 

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