Volleyball Concludes Spring Slate at Nebraska

"The spring is wonderful, it's the time where we make the most gains," said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz yesterday morning. "This is the time where we can really attack individual technique deficiencies, and where we can start getting things in place for the fall."
So far this spring the team has worked on both its defensive and offensive production through training at home and competing on the road. The Cats have competed in Kansas City against numerous teams as well as against Minnesota at Simpson College in Iowa. 
Tomorrow, K-State will conclude its spring slate with a scrimmage against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at 6 p.m. in the Heartland Events Center in Grand Island, Nebraska. 
"I think we've had some nice games," said Fritz about her team's spring scrimmages. "We had a really nice time with Minnesota last weekend. We did some cool things with them. We got together, trained with them, against them, then we played in a scrimmage. I thought that was an opportunity to kind of raise our expectations. We got a lot out of that and now with the Nebraska game, it will be another big jump for us."
Nebraska finished last season as the No. 11 team in the country after going 23-10 and making it to the Elite Eight in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Though the Huskers will enter tomorrow's matchup with a plethora of talent, Fritz said she will be more concerned in tomorrow's scrimmage with how her team handles themselves - not with what Nebraska throws at them.
"Our focus is solely on our side of the net - we won't pay much attention to them," said Fritz about the preparation going into the scrimmage. "But they're traditionally very big, powerful, athletic and talented. It will be a significant challenge for us, but that's what we want right now."
K-State is coming off of a season where the team went 22-9 and made it to the First Round of the NCAA Tournament - hosted by Nebraska. The team graduated four seniors - Taylor Johnson, Natali Jones, Chelsea Keating and Gina Madonia - and will return five rising juniors and seven underclassmen to go along with three incoming freshmen.
"Nobody on the current roster has more than two years of experience, so there are positives and negatives that come with that," explained Fritz on her young group. "We spent a lot of this spring trying to grow them up. We wanted to raise their expectations in regards to what they're capable of and the level of volleyball they're capable of playing. They're all young, eager and learning. There's still a lot of learning and experience to be gained."
With no seniors on the 2015 roster, it will be up to the juniors-to-be, like setter Katie Brand, to take the reins. 
In 2014, her redshirt sophomore season, Brand was named to the All-Big 12 First Team as well as the AVCA Midwest All-Region Team and was an AVCA All-America Honorable Mention recipient. 
"She is clearly one of our team leaders," said Fritz about Brand. "She's one of our more experienced players, but I think leadership has been a transition for her. She's doing a nice job with it, though. She has high expectations for herself and our team, and I think that if we can get ourselves to the point where we can meet Katie's expectations we'll probably be a pretty good volleyball team."
A native of Grand Island, Brand will be competing in a very familiar setting this weekend.
"When I first heard about this game I was super excited because it's not only in my home state, but it's in my hometown," said Brand with a smile. "We'll be playing in the building where I played my state volleyball game. It's super cool and very exciting."
Brand said she will have nearly 20 family members and friends heading out to cheer on the Cats tomorrow and is ready to get back on the court at the Heartland Events Center in her home city.
Capping off an exciting spring season for the Wildcats, K-State is focused and ready to show what it's been working on. This weekend's matchup is a challenge the youthful team is looking forward to, and one that will help them grow together both on and off the court. 
"They've worked so hard. I'm so proud of them for how they've worked this spring," said Fritz. "We've talked about them staying committed to their strengths, and they've done that. This team has an enormous amount of potential."
Featuring 11 home matches and non-conference tournaments at Miami, Middle Tennessee and Creighton, the 2015 schedule for the K-State volleyball team was announced on Wednesday.
Coming off their third NCAA Tournament appearance in the last four years, the Wildcats open the season on August 28 with a two-day tournament at Miami before starting their home slate from September 4-5 with the K-State Invitational. The home tournament will feature the first three of K-State's 11 home matches throughout the regular season, with opponents over the entire home schedule including Green Bay, California, UNLV and eight Big 12 Conference foes.
Following the K-State Invitational, the Wildcats will head to Murfreesboro, Tennessee and Omaha, Nebraska for tournaments at Middle Tennessee and Creighton, respectively. From September 11-12, K-State plays VCU, Seattle and Middle Tennessee while from September 18-20, the Wildcats take on Wisconsin, Arkansas and Creighton.
To continue reading about the Wildcats' 2015 fall slate, please click here
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