Wildcats Set for 12th NCAA Tournament

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- The Kansas State Wildcats are making their 12th NCAA Tournament appearance and take on Santa Clara in the opening round at 4 p.m. CST at the Bank of America Arena in Seattle, Wash. The Wildcats enter the tournament on an up-and-down run winning three of their last six matches and not winning back-to-back matches.

The Wildcats are 12-11 in the NCAA Tournament advancing to the second round every year but one -- 1997. Kansas State has reached the Regional Semifinals twice with the last appearance in the Sweet 16 coming in 2003.

This year K-State faces a strong regional with No. 5 Washington hosting. Santa Clara is receiving votes in the latest Bison/AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll and Portland State is making its first tournament appearance in school history after winning the Big Sky Conference.

Santa Clara is making its 11th straight tournament appearance and represent the West Coast Conference. Five teams from the WCC reached the tournament and the Broncos tied for fourth in the league.

If the Wildcats get through Santa Clara, they will face a potential meeting with former K-State coach Jim McClaughlin who has led the Huskies to their 12th NCAA Tournament appearance as well and seventh straight in his eighth year with the program. Washington. He also guided the Huskies to the 2005 NCAA Championship.

The Series
Santa Clara has won the only contest between the Broncos and Wildcats. Santa Clara bested K-State 3-0 early in the 2006 season at the Fresno State Invitational when the Broncos were ranked No. 6 in the nation.

K-State has won their only match against Washington. The Wildcats beat the Huskies 3-1 in 1983 at the Wyoming Invitational.

A meeting between K-State and Portland State would be the first time the teams meet on the court.

The Coaches
Kansas State: Suzie Fritz (Florida Atlantic 94) is in her eighth season leading the Wildcats. She became the school’s winningest coach with her 169th career win against Colorado (11/19) and is 7-6 in the NCAA Tournament.

Santa Clara: Jon Wallace (UC Santa Barbara 89) is in his 10th year at the helm of the Broncos. He has a career record of 212-87 and coached the Broncos to the national semifinals in 2005.

Portland State: Michael Seemann (Portland State 99) has led the Vikings to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in his second year coaching at his alma mater. His team won its first regular season Big Sky title in his first year.

Washington: Jim McClaughlin (UC Santa Barbara 85) is in his eighth year with the Huskies and has taken the team to seven straight NCAA Tournaments. He led Washington to the NCAA title in 2005 and three Final Fours in the last four years.

On the Airwaves
K-State’s NCAA Tournament action can be heard on 1350 KMAN with Rob Voelker calling the action. Fans can also hear the match on the station’s Web site www.1350kman.com.

NCAA Tournament Headquarters
An interactive bracket -- http://www.ncaa.com/brackets/2008/ncaa_bracket_DI_volleyball_women.html -- has been set up by the NCAA and will allow fans to follow the Women’s Division I Volleyball Championship like never before.

Live stats for matches can be found at www.ncaa.com as well.

Catching Up with the Cats
The Wildcats won their regular season finale at Texas Tech on Saturday. K-State swept the Red Raiders to complete Tech’s winless season in Big 12 Conference action. It is just the third winless season in Big 12 history.

Senior outside hitter Rita Liliom tallied 15 kills in the win bouncing back after notching just one in a loss to Iowa State on Senior Night in Ahearn Field House (11/26). Jenny Jantsch added eight kills and Kelsey Chipman followed with six kills. Chipman also had five block assists in the sweep over the Red Raiders.

K-State’s 24 wins this season mark the second most in the Suzie Fritz era. Last year’s 23 wins was second-best by a Fritz coached team before the Wildcats defeated Texas Tech on Saturday. The most wins by the Wildcats under Fritz is 30 set in 2003 when the Wildcats went 30-5 and won the Big 12 Conference Championship. K-State has won at least 20 games every year of her tenure but 2006 when the Wildcats went 12-18 and missed the tournament. The Wildcats are 7-6 in the NCAA Tournament under Fritz as well. They have advanced to the second round every year they have reached the tournament.