Aug. 6, 2013
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Senior middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger was a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Big 12 team and redshirt freshman setter Katie Brand was named as the league's co-Freshman of the Year, as the conference office released its preseason awards on Tuesday.
The preseason honor is the second straight for Pelger, who was named to the 2012 Preseason All-Big 12 team, while Brand is the first Wildcat rookie to earn Preseason Freshman of the Year honors in the 18-year history of the league.
A unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection as a junior in 2012, Pelger was one of nine unanimous preseason picks by the league's head coaches, who included three players from defending NCAA champion Texas, two from Iowa State and one each from Kansas, Oklahoma and TCU. Longhorn junior outside hitter Haley Eckerman was honored as the Big 12's Preseason Player of the Year after winning Player of the Year honors in 2012, while Texas Tech junior middle blocker Victoria Hinneburg tied Brand for Preseason Freshmen of the Year accolades.
Coaches are not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.
A two-time honorable mention AVCA All-American, Pelger is the Wildcats' returning leader in a majority of categories after becoming one of only four middle blockers in the country to play all six rotations in 2012. The 6-foot-2 native of Olathe, Kan., posted a team-leading 361 kills on a .317 hitting percentage with 273 digs and 91 blocks in 29 starts as a junior. She also collected nine double-doubles on the year, including eight by way of kills and digs.
"Kaitlynn has certainly earned the opportunity to be on the Preseason All-Big 12 for what she has done in the past," said head coach Suzie Fritz. "Hopefully, she uses this as a motivation to have a terrific senior season as we will rely on her talent and experience to guide our team throughout the season."
A 6-foot-1 setter from Grand Island, Neb., Brand was an All-State selection her junior and senior seasons at Central Catholic, where she finished her career ranked in the top 10 in school history in digs, aces, kills, blocks and assists. A three-sport athlete, she also lettered all four years in basketball and tennis. She led the volleyball team to state runner-up finishes in her freshman and sophomore seasons before a third-place finish her senior season in 2012.
"With the departure of Caitlyn Donahue, Katie will have the opportunity to lead our team from the setting position," said Fritz. "She will have a great deal of responsibility and leadership in that position for a redshirt freshman, but we are confident in her abilities and excited about what she can do for us in the upcoming season."
The conference office will announce the 2012 Preseason Big 12 Coaches Poll on Wednesday.
The Wildcats, who begin team practice on Saturday, return four starters and 10 letterwinners from a squad that posted a 21-9 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in Fritz's 12 seasons as coach.
Season tickets for the 13-match home schedule are currently on sale through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office and can be purchased a variety of ways, including toll free at (800) 221.CATS (2287), online at www.kstatesports.com/tickets and in-person at Bramlage Coliseum. A Wildcat 4 Pack can be purchased for just $120, which includes four general admission bench tickets to every home match. Single-match tickets go on sale Monday, August 19.
The Wildcats open the 2013 season on August 30 against Portland in the first of three matches at the UNLV Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev. The home season begins on Friday, September 6 with the K-State Invitational at Ahearn Field House.