The Kansas State volleyball team hopes to create a little momentum Saturday night when the Wildcats host Texas Tech at 7 pm in Ahearn Field House.
To do that, K-State would need to snap its current two-match losing skid and break out of a funk that has seen the Wildcats drop four of their first five Big 12 matches.
K-State (13-5, 1-4 Big 12) lost a four-set match on Oct. 12 at Oklahoma in its last action. That match ended an opening stretch that pitted the Wildcats against four of the Big 12’s top-five teams to open league play.
Texas Tech (8-13, 1-5) has endured similar struggles as the Wildcats with its lone conference win also coming against TCU.
“There’s no question that having the opportunity to play at home, having the opportunity to have a bye, which came at a very good time for us, and the strength of the schedule has played in to some of the things that we’re going through,” K-State head coach Suzie Fritz said. “But we simply have to play better.”
Through the struggles, one thing that Fritz is encouraged by is her team’s demeanor and the fact that it recognizes that it isn’t performing up to the high expectations.
“There’s no doubt — I think they’re ticked off and irritated about it and I like that,” Fritz said. “I want the expectations to be ours and I want them to be dissatisfied when we’re not meeting them. I think that’s where were at.”
Fritz said that the frustrating part is that this team is capable of playing at a high level. K-State just hasn’t been consistent enough, which she said is much different than coaching a team that simply isn’t good enough to compete.
Still, Fritz doesn’t feel that her team has lost confidence or the belief that it can still put together a solid season.
Ever since senior outside hitter Lilla Porubek — who is currently in a cast and doesn’t look to be getting on the court in the near future — was lost heading into Big 12 play, the Wildcats have desperately searched for balance. During conference play, K-State ranks just eighth in the nine-team Big 12 in hitting percentage at .189. This is due primarily to opponents having been able to focus largely on neutralizing preseason All-Big 12 middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger.
“We’ve shown some glimpses of some really good things even now,” Fritz said. “ The mark of whether we’re improving is whether we can do it more often.”
Senior outside hitter Courtney Traxson is one of the players that Fritz has called upon to help provide that balance.
“I’m trying to make less errors while killing more balls,” Traxson said. “It’s hard, because they go hand-in-hand, but it’s at that point.
“I have to kill more balls and make less errors to open it up for someone else to have a chance go kill the ball too.”
Texas Tech may provide an opportunity for the Wildcats to right the ship. The Red Raiders are one of just two Big 12 teams to post an overall losing record and they are last in the conference in hitting percentage at .181, while allowing opponents to hit better than .200.
The Red Raiders play a double-quick style similar to Kansas — a team the Wildcats faced earlier in the season — but lacks the firepower of the Jayhawks.
Still, despite the opponent, the Wildcats know that they can’t overlook anyone.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Traxson said. “We have to take it one game at a time, which makes us focus. This point, this play.
“We have to focus on the little things that can put us above the opponent right now.”