Wildcats Face Santa Clara in Tourney

MANHATTAN, Kan. The Kansas State Wildcats are headed to the Pacific Northwest for the NCAA Tournament drawing West Coast Conference foe Santa Clara in the first round. Kansas State will travel to Seattle, Wash., for the postseason with a potential meeting between the Wildcats and former coach Jim McClaughlin of Washington in the second round.


The Washington Huskies will serve as the host for the first and second rounds set to begin Friday. Washington is the No. 5 overall seed in the tournament with the top 16 teams being seeded. Santa Clara is receiving votes in the latest Bison/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll with Washington No. 5.


“I thought we had an opportunity to be a seeded team. The loss Wednesday to Iowa State didn’t help,” head coach Suzie Fritz said of the draw. “Santa Clara is a very good team. This is one of the most difficult first round draws we’ve had. This regional will have very good volleyball. Santa Clara and Washington are two extremely good volleyball teams.”


K-State and Santa Clara (17-9) have met once on the court with the Broncos getting the 3-0 win at the Fresno State Invitational in 2006. Washington will take on Portland State making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. The Wildcats have never faced the Vikings of Portland State and won their only match with Washington 3-1 in 1983.


The Wildcats completed their regular season at Texas Tech on Saturday with a 3-0 win. K-State finished third in the strong Big 12 Conference with a 14-6 league record and 24-7 overall. The 24 wins are the second most in head coach Suzie Fritz’s eight-year tenure at K-State. Fritz is 7-6 in NCAA Tournament action advancing to the postseason every year but 2006.


“I hope our team responds well to playing on the road,” Fritz said. “We will prepare for all three teams in our part of the bracket and as we get closer to match time we will need to have all our focus on Santa Clara.”


The Big 12 got four teams into the 64-team field the fewest in conference history. Texas received the No. 3 seed overall. Nebraska received the No. 4 seed in the tournament and also will host. Iowa State received an at-large berth after posting an 19-12 record and defeating K-State on Wednesday.


Match times have not been determined. Stay tuned to k-statesports.com for the latest on the volleyball team’s postseason action in their 12th NCAA Tournament appearance.