Wildcats Open Big 12 with Jayhawks

Kaitlynn Pelger

Sept. 14, 2010

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Wildcat volleyball team opens Big 12 Conference play against in-state rival Kansas at 7 p.m. Wednesday from Ahearn Field House on Metro Sports. The match will pit the 5-5 Wildcats against the 9-2 Jayhawks as both teams look to start league play off with a win.

K-State enters the match after playing a challenging nonconference schedule through the first three weeks of the season. The Wildcats played in tournaments at Hawaii and Kentucky, both teams were ranked and brought in other ranked teams to participate in the tournaments. Half the teams K-State has faced so far this season have been ranked in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll and six opponents reached the NCAA Tournament last season.

Kansas has started its season on the road for a tournament at Creighton and has since played eight straight matches at home. The Jayhawks went 2-1 in their most recent home tournament defeating Winthrop and Arkansas-Little Rock but falling to No. 18 Northern Iowa in five.

The last time these two teams tangled in the conference opener was in 2007 when the Wildcats made the drive down I-70 to play the Jayhawks in Lawrence. K-State won that battle in three sets en route to a third-place finish that season in the Big 12 standings and an NCAA Tournament bid.

On The Tube
K-State’s match against Kansas will be televised on Metro Sports for fans with Time-Warner Cable. Brian Smoller will be calling the play-by-play and former Wildcat two-time All-American Liz Wegner-Busch will assist on the broadcast with color commentary.

On The Airwaves
Wednesday’s match can be heard on KMAN1350 with Rob Voelker calling the action. It can also be heard on the station’s Web site www.1350kman.com. The pregame show starts 30 minutes prior to first serve.

Online
Live stats will be available through kstatesports.com for fans wanting to track the action live on the web. Live audio of KMAN’s broadcast will also be provided through kstatesports.com.

The Series
Wednesday will be the 101st meeting between the two rivals on the volleyball court. K-State currently holds the edge in the series winning 58 of those contests while the Jayhawks have won 41 times and there has been one tie in the series. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, K-State has dominated the series winning 24 of the 28 matches.

The Wildcats started the Big 12 era off with 19 straight wins over Kansas before the Jayhawks won two straight. K-State responded winning the next five before KU swept the Wildcats in both matches last season.

The Coaches
Kansas State: Suzie Fritz (Florida Atlantic ’94) is in her 10th year as head coach of the Wildcats she is the winningest coach in the program’s history in terms of wins (188) and is not far off of the best winning percentage in school history as well at .648.

Kansas: Ray Bechard (Fort Hays State ‘80) is a familiar face to the Kansas State Wildcats. Not only for his long tenure of 12 years with the Jayhawks, but as K-State coach Suzie Fritz’s own coach. Fritz played for Bechard and coached along side him as well at Barton County Community College. Bechard is one win away from reaching the 200 milestone.

Scouting the Jayhawks
The Jayhawks returned five starters this season led by outside hitter Karina Garlington. Garlington currently ranks seventh in the Big 12 in kills per set averaging 3.49. She is joined on the attack by Allison Mayfield who is averaging nearly three kills a set as well at 2.89 entering Wednesday’s contest. Mayfield also serves as one of the team’s primary passers ranking third in digs for the Jayhawks.

Kansas is similar to the Wildcats this season in the team welcomes 10 newcomers to the court in 2010. With the influx of freshmen on the roster the Jayhawks have had 17 players see action so far this season. One of those newcomers seeing a lot of time is setter Kara Wehrs. She currently leads the team in assists at 9.50 per set and ranks second on the team in digs.