No. 25 Cats Host Houston in Home Opener

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Coming off of an impressive run through the Best Western Shocker Volleyball Classic, the season continues for the 25th-ranked Wildcat squad as it hosts its first match of the season Tues., August 28th, when Kansas State faces Houston. Both teams came away from opening weekend action unscathed, as K-State defeated No. 14 Cal Poly, North Texas and Wichita State, who was receiving votes, while Houston defeated UT-Arlington.

Tuesday’s home opener from Ahearn Field House will begin at 6 p.m. The action can be followed via the radio on 1350 KMAN or through livestats online at http://www.kstatesports.com/. A live webcast of the match will be available through Powercat Passport, K-State's subscription video service. A complete recap and box score of the match can also be found at http://www.kstatesports.com/ following the completion of the event.

Spectators are reminded to park in the D1 lot, located off of Denison Avenue across from Memorial Stadium, or on residential streets due to construction of the parking garage at the Student Union. For complete parking information, see additional note or view page one of the complete match notes.

Rewind: Opening Weekend
With 2006 officially in the past, K-State stormed into the 2007 season with three victories, creating a string of five wins dating back to last year. To start the new campaign, the Wildcats faced No. 14 Cal Poly at the Best Western Shocker Volleyball Classic on Friday, Aug. 24th. Entering after having lost the last eight-consecutive matches to ranked opponents, K-State looked to start the new season with a new streak. The Cats were successful in opening the year with a victory as they defeated the Mustangs 3-2 by scores of 30-25, 20-30, 23-30, 30-25, 15-11.

On Saturday, K-State’s first opponent was the Mean Green of North Texas, who had lost the previous day to Wichita State. The Wildcats handled the match in a sweep winning 30-19, 30-17, 30-6. The third game marked a new school record in terms of fewest points allowed since the start of rally scoring in 2001. KSU held their opponent to 19 kills on -.062 hitting including only three kills in the final game.

With one team standing between the Wildcats and the Best Western Shocker Classic title, K-State faced host Wichita State in a Saturday night matchup. The two Sunflower State teams matched up well the first two games, as the Cats and Shockers split the play 1-1 before the break. K-State beat Wichita State down by forcing more mistakes by the Shockers and upping its own hitting percentage in the final two sets. The Wildcats took the win from the home team 3-2 (30-26, 25-30, 30-28, 30-18) in front of a crowd of 6,024.

Cats Home Openers
The Wildcats are 27-3 (.900) in home openers, dating back to the 1977 season. K-State has won 14 straight home openers dating back to a 3-2 win over Tulsa on Sept. 3, 1993. Head coach Suzie Fritz has won all six of her home openers since taking the reins of the program in 2001.

All but one of the last 12 matches have been sweeps with the Cats winning in three games 1995-2000, 2002-06.

The 2007 season also marks the first home opener that will occur during the month of August.

Return to the Polls
After defeating one ranked squad and another that received votes in the preseason polls, Kansas State returned to the rankings after the first week of action, debuting at No. 25 on the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Poll. The Wildcats received 148 votes to return to the poll for the first time since Sept. 13, 2006 when K-State was ranked 24th.

Scouting Report: Houston
The Cougars from Houston enter having one match under their belt as they defeated UT-Arlington on Fri., Aug. 24, in a sweep. Houston hit .358 and won in scores of 30-24, 30-24, 30-18.

Justine Farmer led the squad after tallying a double-double with 25 kills and 17 digs. She finished the night with .478 hitting percentage (25 kills, 3 errors, 46 attempts). Adding to the Houston attack were Hannah Sullivan with 10 kills and Lucy Charuk with 11. On the defensive end, Amanda Carson had 11 digs on the night while Malia Vavao put back five blocks.

New Year, New Start
During the opening weekend of action, Kansas State removed a couple of monkeys from its back with victories in the Best Western Classic. One such curse that appeared last year was losses in five-game matches. During the 2006 season, the Cats went 0-7 during matches that went to a final game. In the first match of 2007, K-State started the season by winning a five-game match against No. 14 Cal Poly.

Another streak that ended for KSU was losing against teams that either are ranked or receiving votes. The Wildcats finished the 2006 campaign with 10-consecutive losses to teams appearing in the polls. At the Best Western tournament, K-State put that streak to an end by defeating ranked Cal Poly and Wichita State who earned 11 votes in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Poll.

Valuable Debut
The highly anticipated debut of junior transfer Nataly Korobkova turned out to be much of what people expected and hoped for. Voted the 2007 Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year, the Russia native had a strong showing versus Cal Poly on Friday, Aug. 24.

Korobkova came out swinging in game one versus the Mustangs, ending with eight kills and three digs. She continued to dominate from the right side in games two, three and four as she had 17 digs in the three games, averaging 5.67. She finished with 26 total kills and 11 digs to earn her first double-double as a Wildcat.

Receiving rest during the North Texas match in which she saw action in just the first game, Korobkova returned to the floor against Wichita State later Saturday night. Again she opened strong in the first game versus the Shockers as she knocked down six kills and added seven digs. In similar fashion to the Cal Poly match, Korobkova notched a double-double with 19 kills and 12 digs in the win over the tournament hosts.

For her effort during the three-match tournament, Korobkova was voted as the Best Western Shocker Volleyball Classic’s most valuable player. Through three contests, the junior has 47 kills (4.70 kpg), two service aces, 28 digs (2.80 dpg) and 12 block assists.

Winning Ways
The Wildcats find themselves in the undefeated territory for the second time in the Suzie Fritz era. As K-State sits at 3-0 after the first weekend of action, the Cats will be aiming to remain perfect on the season and pull of a start similar to the 2005 year. During that season, K-State started with an eight-match win streak and went 11-1 prior to non-conference play. Only 15 times in the school’s 34 years of play have Cat squads started at 3-0.

Holding the Opponent
Kansas State beat North Texas in impressive fashion during Saturday morning’s match in which the Wildcats defeated the Mean Green 3-0. K-State won by scores of 30-19, 30-17, 30-6. The final game in which KSU won 30-6 marks the fewest points allowed by the Cats since the introduction of rally scoring in 2001. Prior to Saturday’s contest, the fewest points was seven when K-State defeated Montana State 3-1 during the 2006 Varney’s Kansas State Invitational (22-30, 30-25, 30-14, 30-7). The 30-6 North Texas game three marks only the third time in rally scoring that K-State has held an opponent to a single-digit score.

To the Right...
Kansas State had strong production from their right side with the addition of junior Nataly Korobkova. Finishing the weekend matches with 47 kills, she had 27 percent of the team’s total kills on the weekend.

...From the Middle...
The Wildcat middle blocker tandem of Kelsey Chipman and Megan Farr provided support for the K-State attack as the pair finished with 91 total kills at the Best Western Shocker Classic. Chipman put down 35 to average 2.92 per game, while Farr had 26 with an average of 2.17. The production of the two middles accounted for 53 percent of the team’s kills.

In addition to attacks, the two combined for 37 total blocks, including three solo from Farr and one from Chipman. Farr has 20 total blocks with 17 coming from Chipman. The two are responsible for all of K-State’s solo blocks and 49 percent of the block assists.

Return of Rita
After suffering a season ending injury prior to the start of the 2006 season, Rita Liliom saw her first action in 20 months against No. 14 Cal Poly on Fri., Aug. 24th. She finished her first match with seven kills and three digs, while assisting on three blocks.

She had her best match of hitting versus North Texas as she knocked down nine kills with three errors on 16 total attempts (.375 hitting). Liliom finished with her first double-digit kills since the 2005 season as she tallied 11 kills on 33 attempts against Wichita State.

Earning a Spot
With a number of returners and a load of newcomers, Kansas State freshmen Lauren Mathewson and JuliAnne Chisholm earned some playing time in the season’s first matches. Mathewson, a Kansas City, Mo., native, saw action in all 12 of K-State’s games, including two match starts. Mathewson earned her first career ace against North Texas and also put up 19 digs in the three matches (1.58 dpg).

Chisholm played in five games and produced six kills against North Texas. She also assisted in one block versus the Mean Green.

Five, Four, Three...
With three matches already completed in the 2007 season, Kansas State has already faced a three-game, four-game and five-game match. The opening contest against Cal Poly went to five, while K-State finished North Texas in three. The final match of the weekend went to four games.

The last time the Cats started a season having experienced each was in head coach Suzie Fritz’s first year in 2001 when K-State started 1-2. Five other times KSU has played a three-, four- and five-game match to start the season: in 1995, 1994, 1993, 1984, 1976. In both the 1994 and 1984 seasons K-State started undefeated at 3-0.

Fritz Second in School History in Wins
Suzie Fritz continues to climb the K-State all-time wins list, with a career record of 127-62 (.672).

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: Week One Wrap
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. The Cats have already faced a top 25 team as well as one who received votes in the preseason poll. K-State fared well in its first test, earning victories over then-No. 14 Cal Poly and Wichita State, who was receiving votes. The remainder of the Wildcats’ schedules contains nine opponents that are listed or receiving votes in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll.

In the year’s second tournament, K-State will travel to Hawaii for the Hawaiin Islands Wahine Classic to face two top 25 teams. The first opponent the Wildcats will face is host Hawaii, who is currently ranked 16th. Hawaii dropped from 10th in preseason after two losses: to Oregon State and Michigan. The next match is against Louisville, who is sitting right outside of the numbered list at No. 26 with 91 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 and currently has one loss on the season -  versus No.1 Nebraska.

Upsetting the Polls
Kansas State was one of five unranked teams to defeat one of the nation’s top 25 programs in the first week and one of only two to enter the polls in the second week. K-State’s defeat of No. 14 Cal Poly was the second-highest upset by a non-ranked team, as then-No. 10 Hawaii lost to unranked Oregon State and then-unranked Michigan. The Wolverines were the only other team to crack the top 25 as the debuted at No. 20 this week. Kansas State and Michigan took the place of now-unranked Missouri and Utah.

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 six members in the polls, either ranked or receiving votes.

The Big 12 began the season with seven teams in the top 25 or receiving votes.

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. They added the three victories from the Best Western Classic to bring their streak to five.

For the month of August, K-State has a four-match win streak, as the first win was last season when KSU defeated Pacific 3-0 August 27, 2006. The current non-conference streak for KSU is three wins, all coming from the tournament in Wichita State. On the road, Kansas State has a four win streak going with a victory at Texas Tech in November 2006 and into this year.

The Cats ended their losing streak against ranked opponents as they defeated 14th-ranked Cal Poly on Friday. K-State had previously lost eight straight to ranked squads. Before beating the Mustangs, the last win over a top 25 team was Sept. 9, 2006 versus Notre Dame.

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).

Ace(s) in the Place
K-State will continue the longest current streak in the nation of 258 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 96 matches and all 358 games since debuting against Oral Roberts in the season-opener on Sept. 1, 2004. In that span, Lastra has 81 matches (.844) of 10 or more digs, 48 matches (.500) of 15 or more digs, 21 matches (.219) of 20 or more digs and four matches with 30 or more (.043).

Lastra Ties Downey
Angie Lastra registered her 21st career match of 20 or more digs with 24 versus No. 14 Cal Poly on Aug. 24th. The mark ties her with Laura Downey for the top spot in Kansas State history for matches of 20 or more digs.

She tallied her 20th career match of 20 or more digs with 22 at Nebraksa on Oct. 4, 2006. It is the third time in Lastra’s career she has tallied 20+ digs in a three-game match.

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 121st career service ace with one against Wichita State on Saturday. The performance moves Lastra into sixth place and seven back from Renee Whitney on the K-State career service ace list.

Spiegelberg Continues Climb to 4th
Senior Stacey Spiegelberg continued her efforts to move up on the career assists list during the opening of the 2007 season, as she is within 59 assists from Renee Whitney in fourth.

Spiegelberg started the season with 57 assists in the five-game match versus Cal Poly. She added 37 against North Texas and 50 in the Wichita State battle. With 145 assists on the season, she has an average of 12.08 per game.

In her final effort of the 2006 year, Spiegelberg dished out 37 assists in a match against the Jayhawks of Kansas.

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.