Wildcats Ranked No. 22 in Preseason Poll

Caitlyn Donahue

Aug. 13, 2012

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – After last season’s run to the NCAA Regional Semifinals, the Kansas State volleyball team is poised for another successful year and the Wildcats are ranked heading into the campaign. The AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll was released Monday afternoon and the Wildcats come in at No. 22.

The No. 22 ranking is where the Wildcats finished in the 2011 AVCA Final Poll after a 22-11 season. This marks the first time since 2009 the Wildcats are ranked in the preseason poll when K-State was No. 23.

K-State returns every starter from last year’s team and lost only one player from the roster as backup setter Ashley Kelican graduated a year early to enroll in Kansas State’s veterinary school. The tandem of Kaitlynn Pelger, Lilla Porubek and Caitlyn Donahue were selected as Preseason All-Big 12 by the league’s coaches and make up half the starting rotation for the Wildcats.

Seniors Kathleen Ludwig, Alex Muff and Kuulei Kabalis also are back and ready for their final season for the Wildcats. Ludwig could crack the 1,000 kill list for her career this season, and Muff already ranks among the best blockers in K-State history. Kabalis had one of the best seasons in school history for a libero as well.

Junior outside hitter Courtney Traxson came on strong and played a big role in K-State’s late-season success. Junior defensive specialist Tristan McCarty was one of the team’s top servers and played a key defensive role on the back row. McCarty has significant starting experience as well, starting often in place of Muff depending on K-State’s opening rotation.

K-State’s schedule is challenging this year as most every year with three opponents ranked in the preseason poll. Four others are receiving votes from the coaches. Defending Big 12 champion Texas comes in at No. 2 in the poll and received one first place vote. Iowa State is the other Big 12 team ranked along with the Longhorns and Wildcats as the Cyclones enter the year ranked No. 10. Also for the Big 12, Oklahoma received four points in the poll.

The Wildcats have one nonconference opponent ranked as well as three receiving votes. Minnesota is No. 16 in the preseason poll and has a new head coach this year in Hugh McCutcheon, who recently finished his stint as head coach of the USA Women’s National Team. K-State will face the Golden Gophers on September 14 at a tournament hosted by Tulsa. All three opponents at the Tulsa tournament are among the top teams with the hosting Golden Hurricane and Dayton Flyers both receiving votes in the poll. Saint Mary’s also is receiving votes in the poll and will travel to Manhattan to play the Wildcats on September 6.

K-State opens its season at home against UC Irvine at 7:30 p.m. on August 24. Season tickets and single game tickets remain on sale through the K-State Ticket Office. Tickets can be purchased online at kstatesports.com or by calling 888-221-CATS. Fans can also visit the ticket office in Bramlage Coliseum Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Fans can get a look at the 2012 Wildcats at the annual Purple/White Scrimmage at 7 p.m. Saturday.