2012 Volleyball Schedule Boasts 8 NCAA Teams

Suzie Fritz

May 4, 2012

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – Last season was one of the most successful in school history for the Kansas State volleyball team, and with every starter from 2011 returning this fall the 2012 campaign could be another year to remember for Wildcat fans. K-State’s 2012 volleyball schedule will feature two home tournaments this fall at Ahearn Field House and 12 matches against eight NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago.

The Wildcats open the 2012 season with a home tournament August 24-25 and welcome UC Irvine, Oakland and Oregon State to Ahearn Field House. Head Coach Suzie Fritz said she is excited about the upcoming season and looks forward to opening the season at home for the first time since 2004.

“Our nonconference schedule will present some significant challenges for us early on. We felt as though this particular team, with a majority of players back, would be in a position to be competitive and be comfortable with those challenges,” Fritz said. “The opportunity presented itself to host tournaments on two extremely competitive weekends prior to opening Big 12 play, and we jumped at the chance to compete in Ahearn.”

After hosting the first home tournament, the Wildcats will head north to Omaha, Neb., to play in a tournament hosted by the Creighton Bluejays on August 31 and September 1. In addition to the hosting Bluejays, the Wildcats will also take on Denver and Syracuse.

K-State will then return home for a mid-week nonconference match against 2011 NCAA Tournament team Missouri State. The Bears finished the season with a record of 22-9 and lost to Pepperdine in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Pepperdine eventually knocked K-State out of the tournament as well in the Regional Semifinals.

The Wildcats will host their second home tournament of the season September 6-8. K-State will take on Utah State and Saint Mary’s. K-State won a tournament hosted by Saint Mary’s last year as the Gaels went 17-12 on the year. Utah State finished its campaign at 12-17. Saint Mary’s has become a regular fixture in the NCAA Tournament with five appearances since 2003. This tournament will also be part of the first of three Wildcat Weekends with discounted tickets available for fans who bring their football ticket to the volleyball matches.

Another road tournament will provide for strong competition as the Wildcats travel to Tulsa on September 13-15. K-State will play three NCAA Tournament teams at the tournament, against programs that are regularly in the postseason. The Wildcats will open the tournament against the hosting Golden Hurricane, coming off a loss to Final Four participant Southern California in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Next will be the Golden Gophers of Minnesota, who lost to Iowa State in the Regional Semifinals last season and have been to 13 straight NCAA Tournaments. K-State recently played Minnesota in the 2009 Runza/AVCA Showdown and fell in five sets. The Dayton Flyers will close out the tournament for the Wildcats. The Flyers fell to Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season and have been to eight NCAA Tournaments since 2003. Dayton has had 11 straight seasons with 20 or more wins and been the dominating force in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Following the tournament at Tulsa, the Wildcats will open another challenging Big 12 Conference schedule. In 2011, seven of the nine Big 12 teams made the NCAA Tournament. With the departure of Texas A&M and Missouri, two of those teams are no longer in the league, but the conference will remain among the nation’s best in 2012.

“The Big 12 will be wonderfully competitive as always, as evidenced by placing almost 80 percent of our teams in the NCAA Tournament last season and finishing with the strongest RPI in the country,” Fritz said. “Many of the league teams return key contributors, and the competition will be as difficult as ever.

“We like where the team is at right now, as we finish up spring training. This is an exceptionally driven and hard working group of young people. We continue to develop as a team and as individuals, as well as gain confidence in our abilities. The internal expectations are very high going into next season and we are looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.”

K-State will open its conference schedule on the road at Oklahoma on September 19. The Sooners lost to Tulsa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year. The Wildcats and Sooners split the season series last year with the home team winning each time. With a bye from conference play immediately following the OU match, the Wildcats will play host to Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday the 22nd for another nonconference match.

New Big 12 member West Virginia will make its first trip to Manhattan as the Wildcats and Mountaineers will tangle for the first time in program history on September 27. The Wildcats will then begin a stretch of three straight matches against NCAA Tournament teams as they travel to Baylor and then host Iowa State and Texas. The match against Texas will be a Wildcat Weekend with K-State hosting rival Kansas in football on October 6. Last season, the Longhorns reached the Regional Finals of the NCAA Tournament before losing to eventual national champion UCLA.

After that string of tough matches, the Wildcats will face the TCU Horned Frogs for the first time in program history as the other new member of the conference. The Wildcats’ maiden voyage to Fort Worth will be October 13th, the same day the Wildcats host the Horned Frogs in football.

The much anticipated Sunflower Showdown with Kansas will be in Lawrence on October 17 and then return to Manhattan on November 7.

K-State will make its first trip to Morgantown, W.V. to take on the Mountaineers again on October 24 before returning home for another Wildcat Weekend. On October 27, K-State will host Baylor in volleyball and Texas Tech in football. Baylor lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season to Michigan.

K-State will close its season at home against Oklahoma on November 24 and say goodbye to four seniors.

Season tickets will go on sale soon with a number of options available for all the exciting action in Ahearn Field House this fall. When tickets go on sale, they can be purchased online at kstatesports.com or by calling the Ticket Office at 1-800-221-CATS.