Volleyball Advances to NCAA Tournament

After an evening filled with anticipation, the NCAA Committee announced K-State will take on the Pac-12's Utah (19-12, 9-11 Pac 12) later this week in Lincoln, Nebraska for the NCAA Tournament's First Round on Dec. 5 at 4:30 p.m.
"We're thrilled," said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz after learning the news. "Any time you get a chance to be in the tournament and to be one of 64 teams still playing volleyball in December, you have to be excited about it. No matter what's happened up until this point, everybody is starting all over, and we like the opportunity." 
This year's Wildcat team is excited to continue its successful season, and that was evident last night as, when "Kansas State" showed up on the television screen, the entire team let out a cheer.
"It was so exciting! We were all just waiting for the little ticker to flip and to see our name on the screen, we knew we were coming, and when it did, to see it, that was awesome," said redshirt sophomore Katie Reininger. "It was an adrenaline rush and everybody just kind of grabbed the leg of the person next to them. We were all really, really excited."
Heading into Friday's match, K-State volleyball is coming off of its best regular season since 2008. The Wildcats have complied 22 total victories and a winning Big 12 record in 2014, and they don't plan on slowing down any time soon. 
A first for the K-State volleyball, the Wildcats have never played the Utah Utes in the program's 41 years.
"They're a good team from an outstanding conference - one of the best conferences in the country," said Fritz (the Pac-12 put 10 teams in this year's NCAA Tournament, the most of any conference). "They've had a tremendous amount of success and I know Beth Launiere well enough to know that they'll be well prepared. It is a little surprising that we've never played them before, but we are familiar enough with how they play volleyball."
No stranger to playing in Nebraska, this weekend's showing will be the third time in the past four years that Fritz has led her team to the NCAA Tournament's First Round in Lincoln. 
Two years ago, on Nov. 29, 2012, K-State fell to Northern Iowa, 3-0, in the tournament's first round while three years ago, on Dec. 2, 2011, K-State upset No. 2 seed and host, Nebraska, in the tournament's second round, 3-2, for a spot in the 2012 Regional Semifinals. Though the team wound up losing to Pepperdine, 3-0, in Honolulu, Hawaii in 2012, it was one of the best NCAA Tournament runs in Wildcat history. 
Seniors Chelsea Keating, Taylor Johnson and Gina Madonia all played in K-State's upset win over Nebraska three years ago. It was an experience this year's senior class won't forget, and will carry with them this time around.
"There are quite a few players on this team who haven't been (to the NCAA Tournament)," said Keating. "So, being familiar with it a little bit, it'll be nice having some experience with postseason play. I think that will help."
A quick drive north, the proximity of playing at Nebraska is also something Fritz and the team appreciate. 
"I like the fact that we're going to get on a bus and were going to be there in an hour and 52 minutes," said Fritz about heading back to Lincoln. "The convenience of it is pretty nice. The fact that we can have some K-State folks come, and the commitment that our athletic department has made to bring up some K-State fans and to bring up our athletic department personnel - I think having some of our folks there really makes it special for the team."
K-State's advancement into the NCAA Tournament marks the 15th time in program history and the 10th time under Fritz.
With a blank slate ahead, the past is the past - the Wildcats are off to a fresh start and headed to this year's NCAA Tournament. 
For the full release on K-State volleyball's advancement into the NCAA Tournament, please click here.

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