Sports Extra: Fritz Ready to "See Exactly Where We Are"

Head Coach Suzie Fritz

Aug. 26, 2011

By Mark Janssen – K-State Sports Extra

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Kansas State head coach Suzie Fritz gives a, “Yes, I think so,” when asked about being ready for the trio of opening-season matches today and Saturday at the Georgia Tech Courtyard Classic. “Ready is all relative, but yes, we’re ready to see somebody else.”

The 11th year K-State coach said her cast of Wildcats “responded favorably” to the two-a-day grind of the opening weeks of practice, “… so we’re excited to see exactly where we are.”

That begins tonight against Georgia Tech in a 7 p.m. match, followed by a 10:30 a.m., date with Louisville and a 4:30 p.m., competition with Tennessee Tech on Saturday at the O’Keefe Gymnasium on the Tech campus.

“Mostly, I would like to see all the work we’ve put in to come to fruition,” said Fritz of the opening matches. “I hope to see offensive productivity, I hope to see us handle first contact at a high level, and I hope to see us be competitive and be in every match to win. That would make for a successful weekend.”

Fritz indicates that only three starting positions are written in ink with those being Caitlyn Donahue at setter, Lilla Porubek as an outside hitter, plus Preseason All-Big 12 selection Kaitlynn Pelger at middle blocker.

Of Pelger, a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Olathe, Kan., Fritz said, “Kaitlynn is playing very well. We’re asking her to do a lot more in terms of responsibility, and she’s embraced everything we’ve asked her to do.”

The second blocker position will come from Alex Muff or Taylor Johnson, the second outside hitter spot will be either Dakota Kaufman or Courtney Cook, the “opposite” will be either Kathleen Ludwig or Courtney Traxson, while vying for time at Libero are Kuulei Kabalis, Tristan McCarty and Gina Madonia.

“Kuulei’s ability to keep us in system has been very important for us. She has separated herself from the others,” Fritz said. “All of our specialists have really upgraded our ability to handle the ball. That’s the reason we brought in two Liberos (Kuulei from Western Nebraska and Madonia from Glen Ellyn, Ill.) at the same time. It was an area of our game that we had to improve.”

With improving first touches being one of the primary goals of fall camp, Fritz said, “You can only get so many reps in a certain amount of time, and we are better. I think we’ve done as much as we can do without playing a match.”

Where Fritz wants to make the next noticeable improvement is with outside hitting.

“We want to be more productive offensively, and we’re working with our outside hitters in making better choices,” said Fritz. “We need to learn when we can, and can’t, make a hit. We have a saying, ‘When to live and when to kill.’ Not every situation allows you to go for it, and we’re learning that. We’re learning when to live and make people keep playing, and when to take more risks. That’s a fine line for an outside attacker.”

Overall, Fritz said, “The good thing is we’re a better team today than a year ago today. This team is a year older with another year of experience. There’s some cautious optimism not having a bunch of freshmen out there.”

The Wildcats have no seniors this year, but they do have seven players with starting experience, and three juniors with two seasons of playing at the Big 12 level.

UP NEXT: After the Georgia Tech Courtyard Classic, K-State will open its home season on Aug. 30, against Creighton before hosting the Varney’s Kansas State Invitational, Sept. 2-3, when Idaho, BYU and Georgia Southern will visit Ahearn Field House.

IN THE POLLS: Big 12 teams in the top 25 preseason poll include No. 4 Texas, No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 18 Iowa State.

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