Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

K-State Volleyball

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

K-State Volleyball

Article excerpt

MANHATTAN -- Suzie Fritz's hand was not forced on the decision for the Kansas State volleyball team to start its 2016 season against tough competition in Hawaii. The season-opening slate will feature Arizona, Hawaii and Wisconsin who finished last year with 19, 29 and 26 wins, respectively. Hawaii and Wisconsin both finished the year in the top 15 of the national RPI.

Entering her 16th season as the head coach at K-State, just five wins shy of 300 in her career, Fritz questioned if she had made the wrong call scheduling the tournament, scheduled from Aug. 26-28.

"Sometimes when you're scheduling in the preseason, you don't actually know who the opponents are," Fritz said at K-State's media day on Friday. "When we originally started talking about going to Hawaii, we knew we had Hawaii and Arizona. Wisconsin was the last team in. So you do have say in where you're going, but you don't have any say in who else is going.

"If I'm being honest, once we found out who the fourth team in was, I was wondering at that time whether we had bit off a little bit more than we could chew. Now, nine months later, I am optimistic about our opportunities."

In 2015, K-State went 17-12 overall and 9-7 in the Big 12 to finish in fourth place. The Wildcats earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but were eliminated in the first round by in-state foe, Wichita State. All of that was achieved despite the injuries the Wildcats suffered last year, specifically to redshirt sophomore outside hitter Kylee Zumach.

Zumach, who was the unanimous Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2014, suffered an ACL injury in late August last year and had to sit out the entire season. Now healthy, Zumach is back to helping her team on the floor.

"It's already been big really," senior setter Katie Brand said of having Zumach back. "And I think the biggest part right now is that the competition level has raised to a new level. Last year we had two outsides out there and if you weren't playing well or someone was struggling, you don't have a sub or anything else going for you. But this year it's different. Because when you know someone is right behind you, right on your tail, you're working that much harder to keep your spot."

While she would much rather play than sit out, Zumach noted that the injury changed how she now sees her sport.

"Oh my gosh, I'm so excited," Zumach said. "I have such a greater love for the game now and I'm so much more excited to play with my teammates. I think the biggest change is just my appreciation for the game."

Needing someone to fill in for Zumach on the floor last season, Fritz turned to then-freshman Alyssa Schultejans.

The native of Silver Lake and Silver Lake High School alumnus filled the spot successfully. She led the team with 25 aces, the first freshman to lead in aces since 2010. …

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