Through: D. Scott Fritchen
Redemption was spelled “KSTATE” on Sunday night as Kansas State, the first team in last season’s 48-team abbreviated and pandemic-riddled NCAA women’s volleyball tournament, was chosen as one of 64 teams in the NCAA tournament. 2021, giving the Wildcats new life after a grueling Big 12 Conference season.
K-State will face Florida State on Friday, December 3 at 4:30 p.m. at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.
This marks the 13e NCAA Tournament Appearance Under K-State Head Coach Suzie fritz, the most successful coach in program history, who led the Wildcats to their first-ever Big 12 conference title in 2003.
âIt feels good,â Fritz said. “This one feels about as good as any here.”
The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee selected seven Big 12 teams, the second of all conferences (Big Ten with eight). The Big 12 had the highest RPI of any conference in the country. So the committee gave K-State, 15-12 overall and 6-10 in the Big 12, a well-deserved respect.
âI was surprised because I didn’t know if they would take seven Big 12 teams, but it’s exciting because last year, of course, they didn’t take 64 teams, and we were there. last team to come out “, sophomore blocker in the middle Kadye Fernholz noted. âNow we can experience it. We’ve been working on this all season. It’s a really competitive league. It makes us better for sure. It gives us a little advantage because we have been put out. the test all season long. There is no easy game. “
K-State ranked # 47 in the Ratings Percentage Index. Seven Big 12 teams were placed in the RPI’s top 50 at the start of the week. The Wildcats entered their regular season final in a three-way tie for fifth in the Big 12 standings with Kansas and West Virginia. However, K-State finished seventh in the league standings, behind Texas (15-1), Baylor (14-2), West Virginia (8-8), Iowa State (8-8). , Kansas (8-8) and Texas Tech (7-9).
The Wildcats have had their last six tough games between Iowa State, second Texas and Kansas. They suffered a five-set loss to Kansas on the senior night on Saturday.
âWe had Iowa State, then we took the road to Texas, then Kansas, so it was a really tough six-game streak for us,â said Fritz. âWe weren’t playing badly, we were playing against very capable opponents, so we didn’t finish the way we wanted. We were nervous, but we had a few things for us to do.
âWe’ve had a solid RPI all year, we’ve played in the # 1 RPI conference in the country, we had a top 30 schedule and we’ve played a tough schedule this year, so the combination of those factors gave us a great opportunity. We feel lucky to be able to continue. “
This marks the 13e NCAA Tournament appearance in 21 years under Fritz and first place in the program since 2016. Fritz is 378-258 overall and 10-12 in NCAA tournament games.
This selection was perhaps as significant as any other.
Despite a third place finish in the Big 12 last season, K-State was the last team excluded from the 48-team squad, which has been downsized from the traditional 64 teams due to the pandemic. The four-year playoff drought was the longest under Fritz and it was only the second time in his tenure that the Wildcats have missed the tournament in back-to-back seasons.
âIt’s not a good feeling,â Fritz said. âI was a little nervous as we sat there. You don’t want your name to appear as the first team. Three of the past five years we’ve been so close. One game and one game has been the difference between to be and not to be. That’s pretty good. “
K-State is armed with some firepower.
In her first full season as K-State’s main passer, Teana Adams Kaonohi leads the Big 12 with 1,095 assists and 10.53 assists per set. Aliyah Carter ranks second in the Big 12 with 4.06 kills per set and third with 4.49 points. Loren hinkle ranks seventh with 0.32 serve aces per set. Mackenzie morris ranks fourth with 3.99 collects per set. Kadye Fernholz rank 10e with 1.10 blocks per set.
âHonestly, we were so excited,â Morris said. âI don’t know what we were really expecting until we started. We had high hopes and wanted to see our name on screen. That’s what we’ve been working for all season. It’s really exciting to see “It all paid off and we can continue. That was our goal all season, especially after last season. We were so upset we were the last team to come out. That has motivated us for this season.”
“We wanted to prove ourselves.”
K-State fired 10 letter winners this season and welcomed five newcomers, including Division I transfers Sydney Daring (Jacksonville) and Haley warner (Florida). Both helped to help the Wildcats play at least one more week.
âWe are grateful for the opportunity,â Bolding said. “It’s a really big honor. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this season, but we’re really grateful that they picked seven teams out of the Big 12.”