No. 22 Cats Set to Host Varney's Invitational

MANHATTAN, Kan. - After a week of action that contained four matches, No. 22 Kansas State (5-2) will return to Ahearn Field House to host Arkansas, Fresno State and Northern Iowa for the Varney’s Kansas State Invitational Friday and Saturday. The event will begin with a match between the Wildcats and the Lady Razorbacks of Arkansas, as the first serve is for Fri., Sept. 7th, at 12 p.m.


The Wildcats will play two matches the opening day with the second estimated to begin at 7:30 p.m. when K-State takes on Northern Iowa. KSU’s final contest of the home tournament will be on Saturday when the Wildcats play their final non-conference opponent in Fresno State.


The only match being broadcast by 1350 KMAN this weekend will be the Kansas State vs. Northern Iowa match during Friday evening.


Spectators looking to watch the Cats play Arkansas Friday, Sept. 7, are asked to park on residential streets. For the remaining K-State matches, fans may park on the streets or in any KSU parking lot except for “Y” and “K” labeled lots.


Rewind: Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic

The Wildcats traveled to the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a 4-0 record to face some of the top volleyball squads at the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic last weekend. The competition opened with Kansas State taking on the home team, No. 16 Hawaii, on Friday night. The Rainbow Wahine entered with an uncharacteristic 1-2 record after their first home tournament. With something to prove, Hawaii jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the match. K-State captured game three with a 30-25 score, but fell in the fourth, losing 3-1 (32-34, 26-30, 30-25, 29-31) and dropping its first match of the year. Two Wildcat hitters had 20 or more kills on .200+ hitting, with Nataly Korobkova leading the way with 24 and Rita Liliom adding 20. Both Angie Lastra and Lauren Mathewson dished out 14 digs, with Mathewson setting a new career high.


During the second match, Kansas State faced Louisville, who sat right behind the Wildcats in the weekly polls at 26th. K-State took control early despite a somewhat slow start and won the first game 30-27 after battling back. Kansas State had a strong second game, as it finished with a stat line of 21 kills, two errors and 33 attempts for .576 hitting. The Wildcats won the second by a score of 30-23. With strong momentum, the Cats came out of the break with just as much intensity as the second game and won 30-16 on .531 hitting. KSU finished with .480 hitting on the night, marking the fifth best hitting in a single match in school history.

Three K-State hitters had double-digit kills on .500+ hitting, including 16 from Liliom who had two errors on 24 attempts for a .583 percentage. Korobkova added 15 kills, two service aces and four block assists for 19 total points. Jenny Jantsch added 12 kills on .550 hitting, one service ace and a block assist.


K-State’s toughest opponent was in the third and final match of the Hawaiin Airlines Wahine Classic, as the Cats took on No. 5 UCLA Sunday afternoon. Similar to the Hawaii match, UCLA jumped out with the 2-0 lead. K-State went into game three looking to prevent the sweep and was successful as the Cats won 30-19 and held the Bruins to .033 hitting with nine attack errors. Leading much of game four, K-State could not contain UCLA and fell 30-27, losing its second match of the season 3-1.

Korobkova again led the Wildcats in kills, knocking down 22 of 42 attempts. The native of Russia added a career-high four service aces to total 27.5 points on the day. Liliom also aided in the Cats’ attack as she put down 18 kills.


K-State in Home Invitationals

Kansas State is 69-14-5 (.784) in 86 regular season tournament matches in Ahearn Field House. Head coach Suzie Fritz is 11-1 in regular season invitationals, with her only loss coming in the 2005 season finale against Minnesota.


K-State has hosted some form of the Kansas State Invitational in the following seasons: 1977-1986, 1992-1996, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2005-06.


Varney’s Invite History

Varney’s will again be the sponsor of the Kansas State Invitational, marking the third consecutive year. Since the two have partnered together in 2005, Kansas State has gone 5-1 in the tournament with the only loss to then-No. 5 Minnesota. The Wildcats have gone 16-5 in games played in the Varney’s Kansas State Invitational.


Cats in Varney’s

9/9/05   Florida State     W, 3-0

9/10/05 Houston            W, 3-1

9/10/05 Minnesota         L, 1-3

9/1/06   Lipscomb         W, 3-0

9/1/06   Wichita State     W, 3-0

9/2/06   Montana State   W, 3-1


Tournament Schedule

Kansas State will open its own tournament schedule with a match against Arkansas. The Wildcats will also play in Friday’s final contest at 7:30. The last match for KSU will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Fresno State.


Friday, Sept. 7

Kansas State vs. Arkansas        12 p.m.

Arkansas vs. Fresno State         5 p.m.

Kansas State vs. Northern Iowa  7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 8

Arkansas vs. Northern Iowa        10 a.m.

Kansas State vs. Fresno State   1 p.m.

Northern Iowa vs. Fresno State  6 p.m.


Wildcats Against Non-Con Foes in Ahearn Field House

K-State is 168-26-4 (.848) in 32 years of non-conference volleyball in Ahearn Field House. During the Suzie Fritz era, the Wildcats have gone 24-3 against non-conference opponents.


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.


In the second poll since the start of the 2007 campaign, the Wildcats moved to 22nd place, despite picking up their first two losses.


Poll History

Date Rank - Record

Preseason NR - 0-0

Aug. 27 - 25 - 3-0

Sept. 3 22 - 5-2


Scouting Report: Arkansas

The Lady Razorbacks of Arkansas enter the Varney’s Invitational with a 6-1 record and are currently on a six-match win streak. Arkansas fell in its first competition of the year, 3-1, to Georgia Tech. Since then, the Lady Backs have defeated Pittsburgh, Pepperdine, Oral Roberts, Virginia, Temple and Norfolk State. With the six victories, Arkansas received 24 votes in the poll released on Monday.


Senior Jessica Dorrell leads to Arkansas squad and was named the most valuable player at both tournaments the team has played in this season. She has averaged 4.33 kills per game after putting away 117 total. In addition, she has 47 digs and 22 blocks on the year.


Splitting the assists duties are Lindsay Scanlan and Nicole Martin. Scanlan has 165 on the year with an average of 6.11 apg. Martin is averaging 6.81 per game and has passed for 184 on the year. Three Razorbacks have double-digit service aces on the year: Heather Royal (20), Scanlan (16) and Dorrell (10). Ashley Miller leads in digs for Arkansas, as she has dished out 98 with an average of 4.08 per game.


Scouting Report: Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa opened the season having received votes in the preseason poll. The Cougars dropped from the polls after the first weekend when UNI went 2-1 with a loss to Kentucky. To start, the team has a 3-3 record and were most recently swept by No. 10 Wisconsin and No. 15 BYU.


Leading the team is senior middle blocker Danielle Brazda, who was named to the BYU Molten Classic All-Tournament Team this past weekend. She had double-digit kills in all matches at the event, with 10 in the win over American, 10 against Wisconsin and 11 versus BYU.


Other statistical leaders on the Cougar squad include Kristin Belzung in assists. The senior has tallied 237 assists and is averaging 11.85 per game. Dig leader Ellie Blankenship had 107 on the year with an average of 5.35. Brazda leads in blocks with 38, while Ashten Stelken and Shannon Aschoff have 22.


Scouting Report: Fresno State

With a 1-5 record, Fresno State will compete as Kansas State’s final opponent in the Varney’s Kansas State Invitational. The Bulldogs have losses against Cal State Northridge, No. 8 Washington, San Francisco, Idaho State and St. Mary’s. The lone victory has come against UC Davis, when FresnoState swept the match 3-0 (35-33, 30-27, 30-24).


Four Bulldog members have tallied 40 or more kills on the year with Alisha McKee leading with 57 (2.85 kpg). Lacey Gera and Angela Wiggins have 49 (2.72 kpg) and Kelly Leonardo has added 47 (2.24 kpg). Kasey Van Grouw leads in assists with 125 to average 8.93 per game.


Defensive leaders include Lisa Gera with 119 digs, as she is averaging 5.67 per game. With 16 blocks, Leonardo leads Fresno State in the category and averages 0.76 per game. Lauren Berger has 15 blocks to average 0.71 per game.


Korobkova Honored

Kansas State junior Nataly Korobkova was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week and to the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic All-Tournament team on Tuesday, Sept. 4. In a tournament against some of the nation’s top squads, Korobkova tallied 61 total kills on .308 hitting percentage through 11 games.


To start the event, the junior from Krasnoyarsk, Russia, knocked down 24 kills and seven block assists during K-State’s 3-1 loss against No. 16 Hawaii. On Saturday, Korobkova aided in the Cats’ sweep of Louisville with 15 kills on .500 attacking and added two service aces. During the final match in Hawaii, Korobkova put up a match-high 22 kills and a career-high four service aces in the 3-1 loss to No. 5 UCLA.


The Big 12 honor comes as Korobkova’s first, while she is named to an all-tournament team for the second time. She earned the Best Western Shocker Volleyball Classic’s most valuable player in the first week of action.


High Hitting

The Wildcats gave the volleyball fans in Hawaii something to talk about after a match of high hitting against the Louisville Cardinals during Friday afternoon. Kansas State finished the match with the fifth-highest hitting by a squad in school history after a .480 performance.


The effort was due in part to four hitters who tallied 10 or more attempts with hitting .500 or better. The four (Rita Liliom, Nataly Korobkova, Jenny Jantsch and Kelsey Chipman) combined for 50 kills with eight errors on 76 attempts (.553 hitting percentage)


Crowding In

Kansas State has hosted only one match thus far during the 2007 season, but plenty of volleyball fans have already seen the Cats in action. Over 6,000 fans have attended two K-State matches this season: at Wichita State and at Hawaii.

The match against Wichita State had 6,024 spectators and ranks 11th nationally for the 2007 season. The KSU vs. Hawaii match had 6,172 fans and is currently eighth.


Holding the Opponent

Kansas State beat North Texas in impressive fashion during Aug. 25th’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.


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.


Against North Texas, Liliom knocked down nine kills with three errors on 16 attempts for .375 hitting. She finished with her first double-digit kills since the 2005 season as she tallied 11 kills on 33 attempts against Wichita State. She again had 11 kills at the home opener against Houston. She finished with .391 hitting after 23 attempts and two errors.


During the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Classic, Liliom stepped up and played some of her best and most consistent volleyball. Against No. 16 Hawaii, she had a season high in kills with 20 on 52 attempts. The following day she had a match high of 16 kills on .583 hitting. In the final Hawaiian match, Liliom put down 18 kills. For the entire tournament, Liliom tallied 54 kills, 18 errors and 125 attempts for .288 hitting.