SE: Volleyball Concludes Home Play with Sunflower Showdown

K-State volleyball (17-9, 9-5 Big 12) returns to Ahearn Field House tonight for its final home competition of the 2015 season as the Wildcats are set to host No. 9 Kansas (24-2, 12-2 Big 12) at 7 p.m., to conclude this year’s Sunflower Showdown.

“I’m from Colorado and I still get really excited when I get to play in this historic rivalry,” said redshirt junior Katie Reininger prior to the 112th meeting between the two programs. “We prepare for it just like every match, but it does have that added energy surrounding it.” 

K-State opened its Big 12 schedule in Lawrence, falling in four sets to the then-No. 15 Jayhawks on September 23. However, much has changed for the Wildcats since then as they enter tonight winners in eight of their last 10 matches – including four straight victories at home. 
 
“We played (Kansas) so long ago, and I think we’ve grown tremendously since then,” continued Reininger, who is second on team with 255 kills. “I think we’re going to be a different team out there than we were the first time we played them, and that’s a good thing. We’ve learned so much with every game, and there have been so many games in between, so I think you can expect a really good match.”

Along with tonight’s match being the Wildcats’ final home competition of the season and the always-exciting Sunflower Showdown, it will be an opportunity for numerous players on the K-State roster to compete at home before family and friends one final time this year.

“A lot of my family and my extended family are coming,” said freshman outside hitter Alyssa Schultejans of Silver Lake, Kansas. “I know a lot of other girls’ families are also coming. So even though we may not have all the students we normally have (because of fall break), I think it’s going to be a really good atmosphere and having our family there; that is going to help out a lot.”

The Wildcats are 9-1 at home this year and have played a few of their best matches this season on their home court. So, with the added hype surrounding tonight’s contest, the atmosphere in Ahearn Field House will be exciting, to say the least.  

“It’s good to be at home,” said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz. “This is the last chance we get to play in here [this season], and we’ve been pretty good at home. Our hope is that we’ll be able to get some community support because with Thanksgiving break, our student population will be down. So we’re hopeful that everyone gets a little antsy, maybe eats too much and wants to come out and watch some volleyball.”

Tonight’s match will be broadcast on COX Channel Kansas, as well as on ESPN3, and can be heard in the surrounding area on News Radio KMAN (93.3 FM/1350 AM).

For a complete match preview and more information on tonight’s Sunflower Showdown matchup, please click here

To purchase tickets, fans can visit www.k-statesports.com/tickets, call 1-800-221-CATS (2287) or stop by the Ahearn Field House ticket window starting one hour before first serve. Fans can also buy a $3 general admission ticket when they present their K-State women’s basketball vs. Southern game ticket.

Following Wednesday’s match, K-State travels to Waco to take on Baylor on Saturday (7 p.m.) before learning its postseason fate on Sunday with the NCAA Tournament Selection Show.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL HOSTS JAGUARS TODAY
K-State women’s basketball returns to Bramlage Coliseum this afternoon at 2 p.m., to face Southern. K-State will play seven of their next eight games in the friendly confines of its home arena.

K-State enters today’s game coming off of its first loss of the season on Monday night to No. 1 Connecticut in Hartford, 97-57. Yet despite the loss, K-State still connected on 10 three-point field goals. K-State is shooting .389 (35-of-90) from deep this season and has two games (both on the road) with 10 or more connections.

For complete game notes and more information on this afternoon Wildcat women’s basketball game, please click here.

MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS TO UNC
Despite an impressive performance that included a halftime lead and a career-high 24 points from freshman Kamau Stokes, K-State men’s basketball fell, 80-70, to No. 9/8 North Carolina yesterday evening in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic championship game.
 
“It’s obviously a little disappointing; we came here to win,” said K-State head coach Bruce Weber after last night’s loss. “But really, in these first 12 or 13 days (of the season) we’ve learned a lot about our team. I’ve said it all a long: we have a better team than we did a year ago. They enjoy each other, they’re very coachable and they play hard. We competed with one of the best teams in the country down to the wire.”
 
 K-State led by eight points with 4:22 to go in the game, however, in the game’s final minutes, the Tar Heels used a 10-0 run to take the lead and, ultimately, secure the win.
 
Along with Stokes’ 24 points, senior guard Justin Edwards also scored in the double digits with 10 points and led K-State with seven rebounds. Both Stokes and Edwards earned all-tournament team recognition.
 
“Now we just have to go back to practice and get better,” said Weber. “It’s a long season; this is just five games. So we have a lot more to go. We have a lot of tough games ahead of us. If we want to continue to compete with these teams we have to get better and that starts with practice.”
 
For a full recap, stats, game notes and more from last night’s game, please click here.
 
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s K-State Sports Extra with more on the Wildcats’ men’s basketball team and their exciting run in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.