K-State volleyball advances to NCAA Tournament

K-State Sports Information
After compiling 22 victories and a winning Big 12 record, the Kansas State University volleyball has advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 15th time in program history. (Photo: K-State Athletics)

After compiling 22 victories and a winning Big 12 record, the Kansas State University volleyball has advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 15th time in program history and will play Utah of the Pac-12 in Lincoln, Nebraska for the first round on Dec. 5 at 4:30 p.m., the NCAA selection committee announced.

K-State will play alongside the Utes, Hofstra and host No. 14 Nebraska in the Bob Devaney Sports Center for the first/second rounds of the tournament. All four teams are among the 16 teams in the Seattle Regional, which is slated for Dec. 12-13. The Wildcats have played at Nebraska in each of their last three trips to the NCAA Tournament, all of which have taken place in the last four years.

“We’re thrilled. Anytime you get a chance to play in the tournament and be one of 64 teams to play volleyball in December, you’ve got to be excited about it,” said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz. “No matter what has happened to this point, everyone starts all over. We like the opportunity.”

K-State has enjoyed one of its more notable campaigns over the last six years, recording its most regular season wins since 2008. The Wildcats, who were ranked in the AVCA Division I Coaches Poll for five straight weeks earlier this season, posted their best road/neutral record (13-4) in program history so far, including an 8-3 mark in true road matches.

The Wildcats entered the season as one of the youngest teams in program history, carrying 14 underclassmen. Despite the youth, the mix of returners and newcomers jumped out to a 13-1 record in nonconference play, which was tied for the second-best start in program history. Only three players on the K-State roster have played in an NCAA Tournament match, a group that includes seniors Chelsea Keating (2011, 2012), Taylor Johnson (2011) and Gina Madonia (2011, 2012).

K-State is led by freshman Kylee Zumach, who is pacing the team in kills (406) and points (442.5). Redshirt sophomore Katie Brand leads the team in assists (1,249), while sophomore Kersten Kober is the team-leader in digs (405). Redshirt senior Natali Jones (144) and redshirt sophomore Katie Reininger (129) have helped power the team to its most blocks in a season since 2007 (328.0). Zumach, Brand and Jones recently received Big 12 postseason honors, including Zumach becoming the first player in K-State volleyball history to be named Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

The Wildcats are 14-14 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 9-9 under Fritz.

K-State was one of five Big 12 teams that earned a spot in this year’s tournament, joining Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Kansas.

The No. 1 seeds for each of the four Regionals are No. 1 Stanford (Ames Regional), No. 2 Texas (Minneapolis), No. 3 Washington (Seattle) and No. 4 Wisconsin (Louisville).

Fans can stay up-to-date on ticket information for the first/second rounds in Lincoln on http://www.k-statesports.com/.

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