Pre-Match Quotes: First Round vs. Utah

Suzie Fritz, Head Coach
On returning to the NCAA Tournament after missing it in 2013…
“Sometimes you don’t know what you have until you don’t have it. There’s a rejuvenation.”

On the preseason expectations of others…
I don’t really care about what other people think, honestly. I care a lot about what our team thinks, what our university thinks and what K-State people think. Outside of our small world, it would be very hard for someone to have higher expectations than what we have from the inside. I think you have to do what you think is the right thing most of the time, and sometimes those things are going to go your way and sometimes they are not. We’re not trying to prove anything to anybody but ourselves.

On what K-State has to do this weekend to beat Utah…
“What you have articulated is a lack of consistency. To me, that is where, in late November and into the tournament, those are the teams that separate themselves: the ones that are just good over time. They are not the teams that make great plays, but they certainly don’t do a lot to hurt themselves.

On the expectations of this young team coming together so quickly…
“That process doesn’t just start when you start playing in the fall. That process started for us clear back in January. We knew that our young players were going to have to have an impact for us to be successful. We knew it before they even arrived.  But upon arrival, they started to put some of those pieces together. Last spring, we started to get a feel for how those things were going to start to work together. Who needed to be where and what work load, if you will, each player is going to be able to manage. It did come together rather quickly. If you asked our team nine months ago, ‘Hey, how do you feel about this particular group of people doing this year?’ they would have all told you they are very concerned about how things were coming together. They are an entirely different team than they were nine months ago, which is attributed to how they work.”

On team’s preparation…
“It’s a delicate combination of work and rest. You want to go into it and be as rested and prepared as possibly as you can be. You can’t under-prepare or over-prepare, overwork. We haven’t done work to this point. We managed it in a way where we had a really good day on Monday, kind of started to back off on Tuesday, and we actually gave the starters the day off [on Wednesday] to just get them as rested as we can for our practice [on Thursday in Lincoln].

On if she likes the team’s focus…
“Yes, and that’s because their focus is with them. And that’s right where it should have been early in the week. I didn’t see a lot of them today. They are starting to ask more questions on what to expect, what’s going to happen, what [is Utah] like here and there – so they are starting to ask a lot of questions and process. They also understand it’s another match. If we play well, we will have an opportunity to be in it. We don’t need to over-process it.”

On being familiar with Utah…
“I talked earlier about consistency. [Utah] is a team that is going to start five or six seniors, they don’t hurt themselves very much, they have really good offensive balance—everyone is involved—they don’t make a lot of errors.”

On Utah being used to playing big matches all the time in the Pac-12…
“Yes, but I don’t think, at the same time, they are going to throw anything at us that we haven’t seen or prepared ourselves for to this point. We have played some really good teams. We feel well-prepared after going through a Big 12 Conference season. They don’t provide any challenges that we haven’t already had.”

On what has been the difference in the successful and unsuccessful trips to the postseason…
“Playing well. Getting hot at the right time; being healthy is a big part of being good in December. Your kids got to believe they can win. There is no special formula that you can rely on. You try to get them as prepared as you can. You try to treat it like any other match and keep the preparation the same. We are just trying to keep as simple as we can.”

On similarities between Arizona, which K-State played on August 30, and Utah…
“That seems like a really long time ago, and it’s a really good question. There are some similarities. Arizona got away from us with one particular player. One left side [Madi Kingdon] that we just could not get a handle on in that match. Utah has a little bit more balance in their offense, though, maybe not with one of those, that one kind of player that is tough to get a handle on.”

On the benefit of the extra practice time for the young players going into next year…
“I like to practice; for me, any time we get to practice, it’s a good thing. But I’m all about what’s happening right now. I’m not concerned about next season, I’m not concerned about next week. We love to go to practice, that’s what coaches do. We would practice a whole bunch, but at some point you have to let your team go do some other things. It’s a great experience, the NCAA Tournament. We are one of 64 teams that still gets to practice, that’s what we told them, and let’s behave in that way. Let’s take it for the opportunity that it is and take this thing as far as we can go. We’ve got new life and let’s take advantage of this opportunity.”

On the ‘new life’ mentality being preached after two losses to end the season…
“[We’ve been saying it] all year, really. Just in terms of thinking in the present tense, and in terms of dividing the season into segments. This is the fourth segment for us. Every time you go into a new segment it presents different challenges. This is a new segment, and every time we go into [a new segment], we try to rejuvenate them. At this point, it doesn’t matter what we have done, it doesn’t matter what anybody else has done. You will advance if you win, or you will go home. So there is a sense of urgency when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.”

On Chelsea Keating’s development from freshman to senior years…
“I said to all the seniors, after senior night, there has not been a class that we have ever had that has made the kind of progress that this class has. I kind of laughed, and said, ‘Do you remember you guys and what you were like as freshmen?’ They all kind of laughed. Chelsea, though, very powerful, was extremely erratic. We used to make fun of her for bouncing balls off the back of the gym all of the time. Just the kind of control she’s developed, and her skill level has come a long way. She’s an entirely different player. She’s a great leader. [The seniors] have done it in such a unique and special way by just being themselves and embracing the young players. Making it about ‘we,’ and not about ‘me.’ I think that’s big to get a group of seniors that is about the team, and Chelsea is kind of the head of that for us.”

On the senior class’ ‘we’ approach effect to the resiliency of the entire team…
“I think it goes together. They are in it together. They are not about individuals. They understand they need each other to be successful. They care about each other, they genuinely care about each other. In regards to character, they are a tremendous group of people.”


Kylee Zumach, freshman, outside hitter
On if being named Big 12 Freshman of the Year is a reflection of the entire team…
“I’m a hitter, so I can’t do what I do without my team. Someone has to pass the ball, someone has to set the ball. I think it just reflects how successful the team has been so far.”

On this season possibly being a springboard for the team into the future [14 underclassmen on this roster]…
“This is such a great start. It’s my first year here. You know we are going to keep getting better. Everyone is going to keep getting years under their belt. It’s just really awesome to be here right now and get this experience.”

On the seniors sharing their NCAA Tournament experience on how to prepare…
“I’m going to be honest, we haven’t really talked about it. We just kind of talk about Utah. We’re going into as give it all we got because this could be our last game of the year together.”

On if the NCAA Tournament match is a different feeling than a regular season match…
“It’s kind of different because there is always that thought that we could be done. I think that just motivates us more to keep going and make it as far as we can.”


Sheridan Zarda, redshirt sophomore, defensive specialist/libero
On preparation so far for Utah…
“The coaches have talked about it a little bit, and just to make sure we focus on our side a little bit more. We’ll probably get filled in tonight and [Thursday] on who Utah is and what should we expect.”

On Utah…
“They are a good team. They have done very, very well and succeeded against some very big teams. We just know we have to play our game and focus on our side of the net.”

On preparation being any different for an NCAA Tournament match compared to the regular season…
“I wouldn’t say it’s any different. We are trying to treat one game as one game and not anything over the top. We just got to go play our game. I think we are focusing a lot on who we are and how are we going to handle the ball – how to fine-tune stuff.”

On seeing K-State selected for the NCAA Tournament…
“I was really excited to see K-State up there. I now represent K-State, and our team has come so far. We just have so much talent and I’m just so excited to play one more week with them at least. 

On what are K-State’s strengths…
“We talk about who we are, and that is very resilient. We are hard workers, a blue collar team. We never give up. We’re going to be a team that wants to handle the little things, on and off the court. Every little thing that we can handle, we want to control. That is something that we have progressed on over the season.”

On the fresh start to the season…
“It’s kind of nice. It’s rejuvenating. It gives you new life, as Suzie tells us. We are just super pumped to be able to play one more game, at least. We got to take it one game at a time, and just having a new season start brings a smile to our faces and a little hunger to our stomachs.”