K-State Takes on Tulsa in First Round Friday

MANHATTAN, Kan. - No. 11 Kansas State, who is coming off of a third-place finish in the Big 12 Conference, will move into postseason play as host to the first and second rounds of the 2007 NCAA Division I Volleyball tournament, with the Wildcats taking on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Fri., Nov. 30th, at 7:30 p.m. Chosen as a ninth seed in the field of 64, the Wildcats will also host Oregon and Missouri State in the opening match at 5:30 p.m. on Friday in Ahearn Field House.

After dropping the final match of the regular season in a 3-0 decision to No. 3 Texas, K-State finished with a record of 22-8 to mark the most wins since 2003 when the Wildcats went 30-5. The 14 conference wins this season also marks the most since 2003.

The Cats’ first-round opponent, Tulsa, will be making an appearance in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history after the Hurricane rolled through the Conference USA tournament to capture a conference title. Tulsa has accumulated a 27-8 record through its 2007 campaign and finished with an 11-5 C-USA record. The two squads will be meeting for the first time since Sept. 3, 1993, when K-State won 3-2.

The winner of the Oregon/Missouri State match will take on the Kansas State vs. Tulsa victor to compete in a match on Sat., Dec. 1st with a 7 p.m. first serve. All of the action can be followed online through livestats on both www.kstatesports.com and www.ncaasports.com. Kansas State’s opening round match will be broadcast on 1350 KMAN with Brian Smoller calling the play-by-play action. If the Cats advance to Saturday’s second round, 1350 KMAN will also be covering the match from Ahearn Field House.

Tickets for the rounds being played in Manhattan, Kan., can be purchased online at www.kstatesports.com or by calling the Kansas State athletic ticket office at (800) 221-CATS.

A complete recap of the Kansas State match will be posted online at www.kstatesports.com at the contest’s conclusion.

At Stake
Kansas State is playing in its 11th NCAA Tournament in the last 12 years... The Wildcats return to the Dance after missing qualification in the 2006 season... Suzie Fritz has now coached six squads to postseason play and has a record of 6-5 (.545) through five tournaments... As the Cats finished with a home record of 11-3, they have an overall home NCAA Tournament record of 5-2... The last time K-State hosted NCAA first and second rounds was in 2003 when the Cats advanced to the Regional Semifinal.

Despite dropping their lone match of the last week of regular season, K-State moved up to its highest ranking of the season at 11th after being ranked 12 for four-straight weeks... K-State is 7-3 in the last 10 contests with the losses being handed to the Cats from ranked squads... The last time the Wildcats fell to an unranked squad was Sept. 19th at home against Oklahoma in a 3-2 thriller... The loss was K-State’s only against an unranked opponent this season, while the Cats have won 20... K-State’s nation-leading ace streak continues and sits at 284 straight matches of at least one service ace... K-State is 20-1 against unranked teams in 2007.

Kansas State Pre-Match Report
Facing their first nonconference opponent since Fresno State on Sept. 8th, K-State will open NCAA Tournament play after finishing third in the conference and placing four Wildcats on the All-Big 12 team. The 11th-ranked Wildcats, seeded ninth in the bracket, will look to better their 22-8 overall record to advance in postseason play.

Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Nataly Korobkova, who also earned All-Big 12 First Team honors, leads the Cats with 470 kills on .236 hitting, while also chipping in 35 aces, 187 digs and 124 blocks. All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honorees Megan Farr and Stacey Spiegelberg provide key stats as well for the offense. Farr has put together 272 kills while hitting a team-high .386 percent; she also sits second on the team in blocks with 150 to average 1.35 per game. Spiegelberg sets up the attackers with her 1,482 season assists, as the senior ranks third in the conference with 13.35 apg.

The Cats’ key defender, Angie Lastra, earned the Big 12 Libero of the Year for the second time in her career. She paces the squad in digs after chasing down 533 to average 4.80 per game. The All-Big 12 Honorable Mention performer earns points for K-State in her service rotation as she has 32 aces on the year (0.29 sapg).

Scouting Report: Tulsa
First-round opponent Tulsa played its way to arguable the most memorable season in school history as the 2007 NCAA Tournament marks the Golden Hurricane’s first berth into the Dance. Tulsa wrapped up Conference USA tournament play recently with a victory to improve to a 27-8 overall record, while being 11-5 in conference play. The Hurricane opened 2007 with two losses, but quickly rebounded winning 13 of the next 14 contests. The team had two streaks of eight wins this season, but have gone 6-3 in the last nine after its second string of eight victories.

Fabiola Nepomuceno has blistered opponent defenses with 637 kills this season to average 4.86 per game while hitting .222 percent. Setter Julia Silva leads in assisting to Nepomuceno having 1,427 assists. Silva also adds numbers in digs with 430 (3.28 dpg) and 107 blocks (0.82 bpg). Others adding key offensive stats include Nicole Boyle with 60 service aces and Emma Ridley, who has converted for 411 kills (3.14 kpg).

Key defenders are Malorey Grove and Hannah Stout. Grove has averaged 5.02 digs per game after tallying 658 in 131 games. Stout leads the block with 145 (24 solo, 121 assisted) and averages 1.11 bpg.

Scouting Report: Missouri State
The Bears of Missouri State enter postseason action with a 25-7 overall record and they finished with a 14-4 Missouri Valley Conference mark. Missouri State opened the season with four wins, but fell early at Michigan State and versus Kansas to start with a 5-2 record. Following the first two losses, the Bears rolled up win after win, capturing victories in 18 of their next 19 matches with their only loss to Wichita State. The Bears hit a rut in the season after dropping their second match to the Shockers on Nov. 2, and they have gone 2-4 in their last six.

The .229 hitting of Missouri State has three individual attackers averaging over 3.00 kills per game. Jamie Adams leads all with an average of 3.92 kpg while recording 435 kills in 111 games. Katelyn Panzau has been instrumental in setting up the offense, as she averages 12.12 assists per game.

Four Bear defenders have  notched over 300 digs this season: Nikki Vandepopulier leads with 415 (3.99 dpg); Sarah Thomas has 389 (3.47 dpg); Cara Hackmann sits with 373 (3.36 dpg); and Terri Del Conte has 358 (3.20 dpg). Thomas and Shayla Patrick have over 100 blocks each; Thomas averages 1.20 bpg with 134 this season while Patrick adds 118 total (1.11 bpg).

Scouting Report: Oregon
Playing in one of the elite volleyball conferences in the country has prepared the Oregon Ducks for the NCAA Tournament, as they enter with a 20-10 overall record while finishing 9-9 in the Pacific 10. The Ducks started the season with tournament titles in the Oregon Kickoff Classic and the Baylor Invitational, going 6-0. Oregon started the season with a perfect 10-0 record, then lost to Purdue in their final non-conference tournament and opened Pac-10 play at No. 8 Washington with a five-game loss. The Ducks have lost strings of four and three  matches, but have only lost twice to unranked teams. Key wins include at then-No. 20 Ohio State and recently against No. 6 USC (3-1) and No. 9 UCLA (3-0).

Former K-State head coach Jim Moore leads the powerful Duck hitting squad that is averaging .273 hitting percentage. Gorana Maricic leads with 544 kills (5.44 kpg) on .282 hitting. Sonja Newcombe and Heather Meyers each have over 300 kills to average 3.00 kpg. Nevena Djordjevic and Rachel Morris split setting duties, as Djordjevic averages 8.53 assists per game while Morris is at 5.10 apg.

Key defenders on the Ducks squad are Katie Swoboda, Neticia Enesi and Kristen Forristall. Swoboda is the leading passer with 523 digs (5.34 dpg). Enesi and Forristall have 100 and 101 blocks, respectively, to each average 1.00 blocks per game or better.

K-State Against...
Looking ahead to somewhat unfamiliar opponents, K-State has a history with each of the opponents and conferences that the Wildcats will be hosting at this weekend’s tournament matches. K-State has a winning record of 28-15 against the three teams traveling to the Little Apple. The Cats are 22-2 against Tulsa, 5-13 versus Misssouri State and have won the single contest over Oregon. This year marks the first K-State will/could match up against the three in the NCAA tourney.

KSU has played a member of each conference in the tournament, though, producing a record of 2-3 against members of Conference USA (Louisville 1-0), Missouri Valley Conference (Drake 1-0 - NIVC Tournament) and the Pacific 10 (USC 0-1; Washington State 0-2).

Wildcats in NCAA Tournament
Kansas State is 11-10 (.524) in NCAA Tournament matches, while the Wildcats are 13-12 overall in postseason tournament play (the Cats participated in the 1995 NIVC Tournament). Head coach Suzie Fritz is 6-5 (.545) in NCAA postseason contests.

Fritz-Coached NCAA Tournament History
2001: K-State def. Arkansas (30-15, 18-30, 27-30, 30-18, 15-8)
2001: Nebraska def. K-State (30-25, 28-30, 30-26, 30-19)
2002: K-State def. Michigan (30-26, 30-25, 35-33)
2002: Washington St. def. K-State (32-30, 21-30, 30-22, 31-29)
2003: K-State def. Ohio (30-17, 30-18, 31-29)
2003: K-State def. Arkansas (30-26, 30-27, 30-21)
2003: Penn St. def. K-State (12-30, 30-27, 30-21, 31-29)
2004: K-State def. CS-Northridge (30-20, 30-23, 30-25)
2004: USC def. K-State (30-19, 30-25, 30-19)
2005: K-State def. Florida A&M (27-30, 30-14, 30-27, 30-28)
2005: Florida def. K-State (30-21, 31-29, 30-25)

Lastra Enters NCAA History
With action in 457 games, Kansas State senior Angie Lastra sits tied for 10th on the NCAA list for consecutive games played. The Carolina, Puerto Rico, native broke into the ranks with the five-game match against Colorado on Sept. 22, 2007.

If Lastra continues to play every game of her career, she will become one of only 16 former collegiate players to have played in each game throughout her career (minimum 400 games).

Keeps Going and Going
As Angie Lastra moves up the national ranks for games played, the senior also takes over the school history books. Once Lastra checks into game one versus Tulsa, the graduating senior will break the school record for games played with 458. As Lastra entered the list this season, former All-American Dawn Cady fell from the top 10.

Accurate Hitting
The Wildcats have given their opponents tough hitting to defend, as K-State has built a hitting percentage of .265 throughout the season. The mark sits as the best percentage in school history by .001 percent. The Cats have tallied 1802 kills with 658 errors on 4319 attempts. K-State has notched 17 matches of .250 percent or better, including 14 matches of .300 or better. They have allowed their opponent to hit at .250 or better on five occasions, and only two teams have put up .300 or better on the Cats: at Nebraska and at Texas.

Four Wildcats Voted for All-Big 12 Honors
Four Kansas State Wildcats earned spots on the All-Big 12 team, while Nataly Korobkova earned the Newcomer of the Year and Angie Lastra was voted as the Big 12 Libero of the Year. Korobkova was voted to the league’s first team, while Lastra, Megan Farr and Stacey Spiegelberg all earned honorable mention honors.

Korobkova becomes the second Wildcat to be listed as the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Year, as Vali Hejjas won the award in 2003. Also being honored to the All-Big 12 First Team, Korobkova becomes the 14th Wildcat to be selected to the first team and the 18th overall first team accolade.

Lastra earns the Big 12 Libero of the Year distinction for the second time in her career. The Carolina, Puerto Rico, native was chosen for the same honor as a freshman in 2004. With an honorable mention to the All-Big 12 team, Lastra earns her first all-conference selection.

Junior Farr and senior Spiegelberg were listed on the All-Big 12 Honorable Mention for their first all-conference career honors. As K-State lists four members on the All-Big 12 team, it marks the most for a Wildcat squad since honoring five in 2003. Four individuals were also voted in 2002. For the 2007 squad, Texas had the most honors with six, while Nebraska finished with five individuals; Iowa State, Missouri and Oklahoma each had one all-conference student-athlete.

Big 12 Notes
Season Wrap: Nebraska and Texas finished as co-Big 12 Champions this season, with each holding a 19-1 conference record with the only loss to each other. Kansas State finished in third position, winning the battle against Oklahoma who placed fourth.

Tournament Takers: The Big 12 tied with the Big Ten and Pacific-10 for most qualifications to the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Each conference earned six bids this year; Nebraska, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Missouri each earned a berth this season.

Regional Selections: Kansas State is the lone conference member to be placed in the Stanford Region, while Missouri is the only at the Pennsylvania regional. Oklahoma and fourth-seeded Texas are listed in the Gainesville, Fla., Region, and second-seed Nebraska and Iowa State were selected for the regional located at Madison, Wis.