Cats Open 2007 Slate in Wichita

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The 2007 Kansas State volleyball season will get its start on the road for the third consecutive season, as the Wildcats travel to Wichita, Kan., for the Best Western Shocker Volleyball Classic. K-State’s first match of the year will be a first-time meeting versus the No. 14 Cal Poly Mustangs on Fri., Aug. 24th at 5 p.m.

The Wildcats will face a two-match Saturday on Aug. 25th, as they take on North Texas at 11 a.m. and host Wichita State at 7:30 p.m.

Rewind: 2006 Season
Kansas State closed the 2006 season with a string of two conference victories to finish 12-18 on the season and 4-16 in the Big 12. In the final match of the year, the Wildcats swept rival Kansas 3-0 (30-16, 30-14, 30-28) and were led by the lone graduating senior Sandy Werner, who knocked down 12 kills on the night.

The squad accumulated numerous honors during the 2006 season, including eight Academic All-Big 12 selections and one ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA. K-State also secured its first Big 12 Player of the Week citation since 2004 and its first National Player of the Week honor since 1999, as then-junior Stacey Spiegelberg was recognized for her efforts in the regular season’s final week (at Texas Tech and vs. Kansas).

On the floor in 2006, the Wildcats were 30th in the nation in blocks per game (3.04) and paced the Big 12 in service aces with 205 (1.80 sapg). K-State established numerous records in the block department, including block assists for a season with 632. For a full list of records and honors, see the sidebar on page 2.
 
For the 2007 season, the Wildcats return 71.4 percent of the total kills (1,238), 99.1 percent of the assists (1,589), 89.8 percent of the service aces (184), 91.3 percent of the digs (1,620), 64.6 percent of the total blocks (224.0) and 74.6 percent of the points (1,704.5). 

2007 Start
As 2007 nears the first serve, K-State will be looking for their fourth-consecutive season-opening victory and 23rd overall. The Wildcats are 22-11 (.667) in their first matches of the season with a 3-3 record during the Suzie Fritz era.

The August 24th start marks the second earliest season opener in Kansas State history. In 2003, the Wildcats started on the 22nd at Hawaii. In its 33 year existence, the KSU volleyball squad has played in August on 26 occasions, having a record of 19-7 (.731).

Scouting Report: Cal Poly
The Mustangs of Cal Poly are coming off of a 23-6 2006 season in which the team advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round before losing to California 3-1. The Mustangs took the Big West title after earning a 13-1 record against conference opponents. They closed the season with a 17th-place ranking and had a highest rank of 14th (Nov. 27).

Cal Poly will be returning seven starters, including libero, while only losing one. Nine letterwinners return to the team. Top returner, junior Kylie Atherstone (OPP/OH), was named the 2006 Co-Big West Player of the Year after tallying 505 kills during the season (4.51 kpg). She also paced the Mustang squad in aces, putting down 39 (0.35 sapg), in addition to producing 123 total blocks (1.10 bpg).

Other notable returners include 2006 assists leader Chelsea Hayes, who finished with 1403 total to average 12.53 per game. Senior libero Kristin Jackson led with 570 digs on the season (5.09 dpg), as middle blocker Jaclyn Houston put back 171 blocks (1.53 bpg).

Key victories in 2006: win over No. 8 Texas 3-2; over No. 20 Louisville 3-2; over No. 12 Hawaii 3-2... had a string of 10 consecutive Big West conference wins (9/23-10/27).

Scouting Report: North Texas
North Texas completed their 2006 season as the Sun Belt west division champions with an overall record of 23-13 and 13-5 in the conference. Returning from that squad will be four starters, including libero, and nine letterwinners.

Senior RS/OH Brooke Engel is coming off of a nation leading 2006 campaign in which she tallied 123 aces, averaging 0.98 per game. The previous school record for any season was 76. Senior libero Jessica Hulsebosch ranked 58th in the nation for her 5.19 digs per game average, hitting 675 total.

The Mean Green’s 2006 kills leader, senior OH Katy Prokof, returns after notching 398 kills (3.06 kpg).

Key victories in 2006: started season 11-10 then went 12-3 in final 15 matches... defeated Texas State (8/26) for first win after losing first three matches.

Scouting Report: Wichita State
After finishing 25-7 during the 2006 season, Wichita State will look to improve upon a second-place Missouri Valley Conference finish and contend for the league title as they return their entire 2006 squad. The Shockers have the addition of five newcomers, including one sophomore transfer.

Senior outside hitter Sara Lungren led the Shocker team in kills with 467 total (4.10 kpg) and 49 service aces (0.43 sapg). She contributed 458 digs on the year to average 4.02 per game, second most on the squad. Assists leader senior Abby Harsh returns after a 1320-assist effort during 2006, having an average of 11.89 per game. Harsh added 107 kills and 328 digs in her 111 games played.

Key reserve Melissa Granville, a sophomore libero and defensive specialist, led in digs with 519 (4.51 dpg). Middle blocker Stephanie Tokarz put down 111 blocks (16 solo, 95 assists) to average 1.06 per game.

Key victories in 2006: win 3-0 over Northern Iowa, first home conference opponent, in front of 3,326 spectators... had five strings of four or more consecutive wins during the season... never lost two or more consecutive matches... swept 19 matches.

Big 12 Outlook
After finishing 10th during the 2006 season, the Kansas State squad has been picked to place seventh during the 2007 campaign, as announced by the Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll August 7th. Nebraska received 10 first place votes, as coaches are not allowed to vote for their own squad. The Texas Longhorns are picked to finish second, followed by Missouri, Texas A&M, Colorado and Iowa State.

Kansas State transfer Nataly Korobkova received the most votes for the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. In 2003, Wildcat Vali Hejjas earned the honor at the end of the season.

Nebraska finished not only with the preseason first-place votes, but with the favorite to win Player of the Year in senior Sarah Pavan. Five Huskers were also listed on the Preseason All-Big 12 Team.

For complete results of the Preseason All-Big 12 coaches poll, see page six of the Kansas State volleyball notes.

Opponents Outlook
Wichita State:
The Shockers were voted to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference after receiving one first-place vote and 85 points overall. Northern Iowa tallied seven first-place votes along with 97 points. Three WSU members (Abby Harsh, Sr. S; Angela Jukubov, Jr. MB; Sara Lungren, Sr. OH) were picked for the Preseason All-MVC squad.

Cal Poly: The defending Big West titlists are picked to repeat as conference champions, receiving eight first-place votes and 80 points, finishing ahead of Long Beach State with 70 points.

North Texas: The Mean Green is looked at to take second in the west division of the Sun Belt Conference. The team notched five first-place votes and 82 points, not far behind Denver who tallied six first-place votes and 83 points.

Return of the Cats
The 2007 Kansas State squad features the return of virtually the entire 2006 starting lineup, as the only Wildcat that will be absent is graduated senior Sandy Werner. With the return of six starters including libero and one loss, the 2007 squad has the fewest amount of lost starters since 2000. Every Suzie Fritz squad other than this year’s team has lost either multiple starters from the previous season.

 Year: Starters R/L; Letterwinners R/L
 2007: 5+L/1; 9/1
 2006: 5/2; 9/4
 2005: 8/4; 4/3
 2004: 6/3; 8/4
 2003: 6/2; 8/2
 2002: 3/3; 8/3
 2001: 5/2; 7/3
 2000: 5/1; 8/4

Fritz Second in School History in Wins
Suzie Fritz continues to climb the K-State all-time wins list, with a career record of 124-62 (.667).

In 2005, Fritz overtook Mary Phyl Dwight with her 108th career win on Nov. 9, 2005 at Texas Tech.

Fritz became the third coach in Wildcat history and second in the modern era to surpass the 100-win mark on Sept. 14, 2005 at Oklahoma. She was the fastest in school history to 100 and was also the fastest to 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90.

She now trails only one former Wildcat leader, Scott Nelson with a 168-176-1 record from 1980 to 1990.

Battling the Schedule
Not only does Kansas State have to face the usually competitive Big 12 Conference opponents, but the 2007 schedule also adds in a strong non-conference slate. In all, the Wildcats will face 13 squads that are listed or receiving votes in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll.

To open the season, K-State will face a couple of strong competitors in the Best Western Shocker Volleyball Classic. In the first match of the year, the Wildcats will take on the Mustangs of Cal Poly, who open the year ranked No. 14 after a 23-6 season in 2006. After facing North Texas, K-State will take on event-host Wichita State, who received 11 votes in the poll.

In the year’s second tournament, K-State will travel to Hawaii for the Hawaiin Islands Wahine Classic to face two top 10 teams. The first opponent the Wildcats will face is host Hawaii, who enters the season at No. 10. The next match is against Louisville, who is sitting right outside of the numbered list at No. 26 with 157 points. In the final contest in Hawaii, KSU will face their highest non-conference opponent in No. 5 UCLA, who finished 2006 with a 33-4 record.

One Tough Conference
The 2007 season will not be any different in the strength of the Big 12 Conference volleyball teams. Including the reigning NCAA Champion Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Big 12 lists seven members in the polls, either ranked or receiving votes.

With seven teams making the list, the Big 12 is tied with the Big Ten and Pacific 10 for the most conference foes in the polls. The three conferences are closely followed by the Southeastern Conference who lists five.

The Pac 10 has the most members in the top five, with four, while the Big 12 and Big Ten have two each. In the top 25, the Big Ten and Pac 10 each have five members while the Big 12 has four.

Sunflower State Tournaments
The Wildcats have an impressive record during tournaments that are hosted in their home state of Kansas. Since 1977, K-State has taken part in 33 events and earned a record of 105-30-6 (.745). Out of those tournaments, 13 have been season opening events. The Wildcats have earned a 45-14-5 (.703) record during those matches.

In school history, K-State has played in three tournaments hosted by Wichita State. KSU has a 5-4 (.556) record in those matches.

Current Streaks
Dating back to the 2006 season, Kansas State is currently on a win streak, having won the final two matches of the year. The Wildcats defeated Texas Tech 3-1 in Lubbock and swept Kansas 3-0 in the final home and season contest.

For the month of August, K-State has a one-match win streak, as the team defeated Pacific 3-0 August 27, 2006. The current non-conference streak for KSU is one loss, as the Wildcats fell to Alabama 2-3 in the final match of the Northern Iowa Tournament. On the road, Kansas State has a one win streak going with a victory at Texas Tech in November 2006.

As the Cats take on 14th-ranked Cal Poly, they will be hoping to snap their current eight match losing streak to ranked squads. The streak dates back to a loss at home against No. 22 Missouri on Sept. 20th. The last win versus a ranked team came against No. 23 Notre Dame on Sept. 9, 2006, in the second contest of the Northern Iowa Tournament, as the Wildcats won 3-0. Losses during the eight-match streak have come against, in order, No. 22 Missouri, No. 8 Texas, No. 1 Nebraska, No. 24 Oklahoma, No. 12 Missouri, No. 1 Nebraska, No. 15 Oklahoma and No. 8 Texas.

On the Radio
Not only can fans catch Wildcat volleyball action on the radio nearly every match this season, but head coach Suzie Fritz can be found on 1350KMAN every other Thursday during season. The Suzie Fritz Show is on at 6:30 p.m. and will feature a student-athlete along with Coach Fritz.

Suzie Fritz Show Dates
Sept. 6, Sept. 20
Oct. 4, Oct. 18
Nov. 1, Nov. 15

On the Tube
Two of Kansas State’s home matches are set to be televised on FSN Midwest for the third-consecutive year. The September 19th date with Oklahoma and November 7th contest against Texas A&M are both scheduled to be on the tube.

Park It
As the university constructs a new garage in the Student Union parking lot, fans are being directed to new locations for their parking needs. During all home matches, EXCEPT for the SEPT. 7th Arkansas contest scheduled for 12 p.m., spectators looking to watch the Cats in action are asked to park in the D1 lot, located off of Denison Avenue across the street from Memorial Stadium, or on residential streets. Visitors without a permit are allowed in the D1 lot after 5 p.m. on weekdays. Fans are encouraged to arrive early as parking is limited.

For the Sept. 7th noon match, fans expecting to watch the Wildcats take on Arkansas in the first contest of the Varney’s Kansas State Invitational are asked to either seek on-street parking or apply for a visitors pass in Edwards Hall. A visitors pass would allow one to park in any KSU parking lot except for “Y” and “K” lots. Edwards Hall is located just south of the Recreation Complex off of Denison Avenue.

For weekend matches, fans are allowed to park in any lot, except “Y” and “K”, at any time of the day.

K-State Among Top 50 in Attendance
The Wildcat faithful kept Kansas State in the nation’s top 50 for home attendance, as last year saw 11,244 fans enter Ahearn Field House to watch KSU volleyball. The Cat fans average 803 per game and ranked 46th in the nation among Division I programs.

While Kansas State hosted 14 events during the 2006 season, the top attendance mark for the Wildcats was 1,894 for the Oct. 28 match against No. 1 and eventual champion Nebraska.

In the 21st century, K-State has been ranked among the top-40 in home attendance in all five of the previous seasons. Since the 2000 season, the Wildcats have seen 141,702 fans pass through the Ahearn Field House doors.

The national leader for the 2006 season was Hawaii with an average of 7,186 in 22 matches. They brought in a total of 158,093 spectators during the entire season. Hawaii also led in 2005 with 7,302 fans per match.

Fritz Among Active National Coaching Leaders
Wildcat head coach Suzie Fritz is listed among the top 50 NCAA Division I winningest active coaches, sitting at 46th with a win percentage of .667. To be considered for the list, a coach must have a minimum of five years as a DI coach; records from four-year universities are only considered.

Hawaii’s Dave Shoji leads all with a percentage of .85032, while Russ Rose of Penn State is second with .85019. Other Big 12 coaches listed are Nebraska’s John Cook (fifth; .814) and Jerritt Elliott of Texas (17th; .734).

Career Match Accomplishments
With age comes experience and improvement, and the 2006 Kansas State volleyball season, despite the record, had career accomplishments for each of the returning student-athletes. Each of the eight players that saw action during 2006 had at least two match highs during the season.

Seniors: Angie Lastra had a career match high of 23 kills at Missouri (10/21), marking one of only three times she has knocked down 20 or more kills in a match. She also put down three blocks at Texas Tech (11/22), equaling more blocks than her first two seasons at KSU combined. Lauren Rosenthal scooped up 24 digs versus Texas (11/15) for a match high, being one of three times to reach 20 or more. She also had a high in aces during the 2006 season, tallying four in one match with no errors against Drake (9/6). Stacey Spiegelberg had five aces at Texas Tech (11/22).

Juniors: Megan Farr notched 18 kills against Texas (11/15) and nine blocks at Colorado (11/1) for career highs. Jenny Jantsch had her first match of 20-plus kills when she put down 22 against Northern Iowa (9/8). She also finished with five aces versus Kansas (11/25) and 18 digs against Missouri (9/20). Megan Kroeker had a high of 18 kills versus Mizzou (9/20) as well as a career high in aces with five in a battle with Oklahoma (10/14). Leslie Townsend had a 13-dig night, marking her career best, at Texas (9/30) and also finished with three aces at Alabama (9/9).

Sophomore: Kelsey Chipman had her first 20 kill night at Colorado (11/1) while also knocking down 15 blocks that same night. (See following note about blocks).

Her Own Chip of History
Freshman middle blocker Kelsey Chipman secured her place in the K-State record books with her incredible performance at Colorado on Nov. 1.

The product of Topeka, Kan., carded a career-high 20 kills and a school record in block assists for all matches with 15. It is the first double-double and first 20-kill match of her career and the first double-double and 20-kill performance by a true freshman since Sept. 19, 1998 when Liz Wegner tallied 21 kills and 17 digs against No. 22 Illinois.

The 15 block assists also breaks the Big 12 Conference record for block assists in a five-game match, surpassing the previous record of 13 held by Alison Koepke of Colorado (Dec. 7, 1997; vs. Oral Roberts) and Tanisha Webster of Oklahoma (Oct. 4, 1997; vs. K-State).

After becoming a full-time member of the rotation on Oct. 7, Chipman had 106 kills (1.93 kpg) on a .221 hitting percentage and 74 total blocks (1.35 bpg).

Ace(s) in the Place
K-State will continue the longest current streak in the nation of 255 straight matches with at least one service ace into the 2007 season. The Wildcats carded a season-high 15 aces against Kansas in the 2006 season finale. This is the highest total since Sept. 9, 2003, when K-State tallied a school-record 18 against UMKC.

K-State’s streak started on Nov. 13, 1998 in a 3-1 win over Missouri in Ahearn Field House. The last time K-State failed to register a service ace was on Nov. 7, 1998 in a 3-1 win over Colorado.

Lastra Leading the Dig
Angie Lastra finished the 2006 season by moving into second on the Kansas State career digs list with 1,457. Lastra concluded the season with 474 digs to rank fifth for digs in a single season, trailing her totals from the last two seasons of 493 and 490.

The product of Carolina, Puerto Rico has played in 93 matches and all 346 games since debuting against Oral Roberts in the season-opener on Sept. 1, 2004. In that span, Lastra has 78 matches (.839) of 10 or more digs, 46 matches (.495) of 15 or more digs, 20 matches (.215) of 20 or more digs and four matches with 30 or more (.043).

Lastra One Away from Tying Downey
Angie Lastra registered her 20th career match of 20 or more digs with 22 at Nebraksa on Oct. 4. It is the third time in Lastra’s career she has tallied 20+ digs in a three-game match. It was the seventh 20+ dig effort in the last 11 matches for Lastra.

With the effort, the Carolina, Puerto Rico, product moved to within one of the career leader in the category, Laura Downey with 21. Lastra has 12 matches of 25 or more digs in her career and is the career leader at K-State for 30-dig matches with four, including a career-high 36 at Minnesota on Sept. 10, 2004.

One Last(ra) Year
Senior Angie Lastra has already achieved something in that all three of her playing years have made the school’s top-10 list for digs in a season. She will be looking to add her final campaign on that list, which will take 382 or more digs during 2007. Lastra has proven capable as she is listed with the third, fourth and fifth top marks.

Lastra Dealing Out Aces
Angie Lastra registered her 118th career service ace with two against Kansas. The performance moves Lastra into a tie for seventh with Kristin Martin on the K-State career service ace list. Lastra needs two more to move into a tie for sixth and ten more to tie for fifth.

Spiegelberg Continues Climb to 4th
In her final effort of the 2006 year, now-senior Stacey Spiegelberg dished out 37 assists in a match against the Jayhawks of Kansas. The mark helped her inch towards fourth place on the K-State career assists list. The Overland Park, Kan., native has 2,950 career assists and sits back from Renee Whitney (1983-86) who notched 3,154 in her Wildcat playing days.

Kroeker in Top-10 for Block Assists
Junior Megan Kroeker moved into the Kansas State record books during her sophomore year, as she moved into a tie for ninth during the final match of 2006. In a victory against Kansas, the Solomon, Kan., native aided in four block assists to bring her career total to 258. The mark also brought her to 135 in a season for 2006, placing sixth on the seasonal list all-time.