Wildcats Begin Training Camp

MANHATTAN, Kan. The Kansas State volleyball team officially began its preparation for the 2008 season Saturday with the first day of two-a-day practices. The Wildcats return four starters from last year’s team and welcome back five more letterwinners. Two redshirt freshman and four newcomers round out the roster looking to make another NCAA Tournament appearance.


After reporting to camp Friday, the players and coaches hit the courts at Ahearn Fieldhouse for the first day of practices ready to set the tempo for the season and establish a goal of improving every time they take the court.


“Right now we’re looking to define our practice structure to find out what we can do and how well we do it. The goal is every day, every play to get better,” head coach Suzie Fritz said. “If everyone does what it takes to get just a little bit better every day, we can make immense improvement.”


In 2007 the Wildcats rebounded with a return to the NCAA Tournament and finished third in the Big 12 Conference standings. K-State also finished the year ranked 16th in the nation. This year the team is looking to stay true to form and take advantage of its large senior class.


Five seniors are back for their final campaign, including All-American Nataly Korobkova. Last season, Korobkova became K-State’s sixth player to earn all-America honors and also claimed All-Big 12 first team and Big 12 Newcomer of the year accolades.


“Nataly had a big impact on the success of our team in her first year,” Fritz said. “She is capable of doing extraordinary things with her talent.”


Korobkova is not the only returner to receive recognition for her 2007 effort. Senior middle blocker Mega Farr was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. K-State’s other two All-Big 12 performers from last season, Angie Lastra and Stacey Spiegelberg, both graduated.


The loss of Spiegelberg at setter, Lastra at libero and fellow senior Lauren Rosenthal at defensive specialist leaves three positions open that touch the ball often. However, the trio of Lauren Mathewson, Leslie Townsend and Charissa Duggan will compete for Lastra’s and Rosenthal’s positions, while redshirt freshman Abby Fay and juco transfer Soriana Pacheco will battle for the starting setter position.


The season gets underway for the Wildcats at the Mortar Board Premier hosted by Purdue on August 29 against Tennessee State. The tournament boasts four teams that reached the NCAA Tournament with Duke rounding out the field.


Fritz said she and her team are ready to begin working toward another successful season and Saturday was just the first step.


“It’s always an exciting time when you have all the new players in and you get everyone back for camp,” Fritz said. “We’re cautiously optimistic and excited for the season and what this team is capable of accomplishing.”