Sept. 26, 2012
By Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Few families have experienced more victories in Ahearn Field House than the Muffs.
That’s dad Kevin Muff, who played basketball at Kansas State in the final two coaching years of Jack Hartman in 1984-85 and 1985-86, and, that’s daughter Alex Muff, who is presently in her senior season as a Wildcat volleyball talent.
Flashing a knowing smile, Alex said, “I think dad has really enjoyed coming back here to watch me. It’s taken him back to his days as a player. I know he recently told me that our locker room was the same one that men’s basketball used when he played.
“It’s been exciting to play here four years and enjoy our atmosphere and community support that he experienced as a player,” said the K-State middle blocker.
Daughter’s words couldn’t have been truer.
“It’s been surreal to walk back into Ahearn and picture in my mind what it was like and reflect on all the atmosphere of the facility when I was playing basketball, said Muff, who is now the head basketball coach at Pittsburg State. “You remember those windows at each end and how the light used to shine in on afternoon games, and then memories of the noise level comes flooding back.”
With both parents, Kevin and Kim, being Wildcat alums, Muff said there was never a question on where she would play once coach Suzie Fritz extended the offer of a scholarship.
As she said, “It was a no brainer. I was raised a Wildcat and will always be a Wildcat.”
In all honesty, Muff might be playing her second best sport. At Concordia High School she played a starring role on a track team that won state titles in each of her years. Personally, she won the 100-meter hurdles three years in a row, plus ran a leg on the 4 x 400 relay team that set Class 4A records in each of her last three seasons.
Oh yes, the Panthers also won the Class 4A state basketball title when Muff was a senior.
“I started playing basketball in the third grade, and enjoyed the other sports, but I just decided around my sophomore year that volleyball is the sport I wanted to focus on,” said Muff, a communications and marketing major and a two-time Academic All-Big 12 First team selection. “Volleyball is a game of mistakes, which is really a challenge for me because I’m a perfectionist. It frustrates me and bugs me, but the rewards are so high.”
The 6-foot-1 senior had to endure years of frustration upon arriving at K-State when the Wildcats went 6-14 in Big 12 play as a freshman and sophomore, which were also seasons when only 12 overall matches were won each year.
Team maturity set in during the 2011 season when K-State went 22-11, which included a 9-7 Big 12 record. Oh yes, at the end of the year were two NCAA victories, which included the historic five-set win against No. 2 Nebraska on the Cornhuskers’ home floor.
This year the Wildcats are 13-1 heading into Thursday’s match at 7 p.m., in Ahearn Field House where West Virginia will be visiting.
The 6-foot-1 Muff has played a significant role in the success of the No. 15 ranked Wildcats with an average of a team-high 1.5 blocks per set, plus 1.8 kills per set and 2.62 points per set, which ranks fourth on the team.
In fact, in the words of Fritz, “Alex has become the best middle blocker, in terms of her abilities at the net, as we’ve ever had.”
To Muff, the team progress has come through the “5 Core Values” of the K-State program.
That’s Confidence and Belief, Communication and Trust, Character; Commitment and Work Ethic, and, Competitiveness.
“I think sticking to those values throughout the first three years has allowed the program to grow,” said Muff. “Early, we struggled to get wins, but our hard work is now paying off as we’ve grown to become the team we are.”
This is also how dad Muff has seen it.
“I’m very much a novice when it comes to volleyball, but it’s been very apparent that the team has come together and developed into something pretty special,” said the elder Muff.
While the challenge early was to get match wins, the mission now is to add to the success of last year’s 22-11 team.
“We have the talent and the character, but we also must realize that teams will be out to get us,” said Muff. “We can’t be complacent. We have to work every day to improve as a team and I think we will. The thing I like about this team is its competitiveness and how close we are as a team on and off the court.”
And there’s a comfort with Kevin Muff, as well: “I’m at Pitt State now, but my ties are with Kansas State and will always be. I couldn’t be more proud than having a daughter be a student-athlete at K-State experiencing the positive things I did when I was a player.”
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen or Kansas State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.