Wildcats Headed Back to NCAA Tournament

Wildcats celebrate their selection to the NCAA Tournament.

Nov. 27, 2011

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MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Kansas State volleyball team is headed back to the NCAA Tournament as the Wildcats received an at-large bid to the 2011 tournament on Sunday. The Wildcats will travel to Lincoln, Neb., and take on Wichita State in the first round. K-State and the Shockers are set to take the court at 4:30 p.m. Thursday from NU Coliseum.

Head Coach Suzie Fritz said she is excited to be headed back to the postseason after missing out on the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons. She added that her team made the decision following last season to do what it takes to return the program to the NCAA Tournament, and the Wildcats responded.

"I think the true testament is what we were able to do over the course of time. This team really made a commitment at the end of last season to figure it out and grow off the court and say we are going to get better," Fritz said. "Sitting here November 26th of last year and not having the opportunity to go and play in the postseason, that's where it happened. It happened in that moment and they continued to commit."

This is the 13th NCAA Tournament appearance for the Wildcats and eighth in the 11 years Fritz has led the program. K-State is 12-12 all-time in the tournament with the deepest run by the Wildcats coming in 2003 and 2000 when the team reached the Regional Semifinals. Fritz is 7-7 in her seven tournament appearances and has advanced out of the first round each year but 2008 against Santa Clara.

K-State (20-10) will face Wichita State (20-10), as the Shockers are making their sixth tournament appearance and fifth straight. The Wildcats are 37-15 all-time against the Shockers and have never faced a team from the Missouri Valley Conference in the NCAA Tournament. The last time K-State met Wichita State on the court the Wildcats won in four sets in Wichita on Aug. 25, 2007.

"Wichita State is a great in-state program," Fritz said. "They have done tremendous things in the Missouri Valley. They're very well supported down there. There will be a lot of their people there to cheer them on and we're going to need a lot of our folks there as well."

Junior opposite Kathleen Ludwig said she is excited to get back to the tournament. She is the only player on the roster to have been to the NCAA Tournament as she redshirted in 2008 and did not play but was on the bench in Seattle when K-State lost to Santa Clara. She also said she is excited to play in one of the premiere volleyball facilities in the nation again.

"Being a co-captain and been on the team four years, it feels more like my team now than it did when I redshirted in 2008. I feel so honored that my work and my teammates' work has got us to this point," Ludwig said. "The Coliseum is one of the great, historic volleyball venues and it's fun to play there. They make it really hyped up and we know we will need to create our own energy on our side of the court."

Other teams in K-State's Lincoln subregional are host Nebraska (24-4) as the Huskers are the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament. Nebraska will take on Jackson State (26-9) from the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Tigers won their first SWAC title this season. Nebraska and Jackson State will face at 7:30 p.m. Thursday with the winner of both matches playing Friday. Of the two potential opponents, K-State has never faced Jackson State and is 3-80 against Nebraska.

Sophomore middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger said she is excited to be going to her first NCAA Tournament and is looking forward to the experience. She knows she and the Wildcats are among a select group and they will cherish the opportunity to continue playing in the postseason.

"It's very rewarding," Pelger said. "There are a lot of other teams that don't get to play anymore volleyball, and we do. Hopefully, we get to play a lot more volleyball."

It was another strong showing by the Big 12 Conference in the bracket as seven of the nine volleyball members are in the field of 64. Texas received the No. 1 overall seed as the NCAA seeds the top 16 teams only and those teams play host to first and second round matches. Iowa State is No. 4 in the bracket, and Texas A&M received the No. 16 spot after upsetting Iowa State to close the regular season on Saturday night. Baylor, Oklahoma and Missouri also received bids to the tournament to make the Big 12 the most represented conference in the bracket from a percentage standpoint. The Big Ten Conference had eight of its 12 members make the tournament. The Pac-12 also had seven members reach the postseason.

To purchase tickets and for more information on tickets to the NCAA Tournament contact the K-State Ticket Office at 1-888-221-CATS or online at kstatesports.com./tickets.

NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds
Lincoln, Neb. - NU Coliseum (Hawai'i Regional)
First Round - Thursday
4:30 p.m.: Kansas State vs. Wichita State
7:00 p.m.: No. 2 Nebraska vs. Jackson State

Second Round - Friday
TBD vs. TBD

NCAA Tournament History
2008: L 2-3 vs. Santa Clara
2007: W 3-0 vs. Tulsa; L 2-3 vs. Oregon
2005: W 3-1 v. Florida A&M; L 0-3 vs. Florida
2004: W 3-0 vs. Cal State Northridge; L 0-3 vs. Southern California
2003: W 3-0 vs. Ohio; W 3-0 vs. Arkansas; L 1-3 vs. Penn State
2002: W 3-0 vs. Michigan; L 1-3 vs. Washington State
2001: W 3-2 vs. Arkansas; L 1-3 vs. Nebraska
2000: W 3-1 vs. Loyola-Chicago; W 3-1 vs. Pepperdine; L 1-3 vs. Wisconsin
1999: W 3-0 vs. Louisville; L 1-3 vs. Colorado State
1998: W 3-0 vs. Georgetown; L 0-3 vs. BYU
1997: L 1-3 vs. San Diego
1996: W 3-1 vs. Cal State Northridge; L 0-3 vs. Washington State