Cats prep for season with scrimmage

K-State volleyball opens season Aug. 30 at the UNLV Invitational

By The Mercury

The Kansas State volleyball team had one of its final opportunities to gear up for the 2013 season Thursday when the Wildcats competed in the annual Purple/White Scrimmage at Ahearn Field House.

Officially, the Purple side captured the match 3-0 in front of a public audience, but for head coach Suzie Fritz, the evening provided an opportunity for the entire team to focus on specific areas of its game.

“Tonight, we were trying to attack two primary areas — first-swing offense and trying to do a nice job of managing first contact in terms of serving and receiving,” Fritz said. “We saw some nice things tonight. We limited our errors in serving and receiving. We didn’t miss a ton a serves and we didn’t have a lot of receiving errors, which is something that we think we’re improving on and that is getting better and better.”

The Purple squad notched a game-high four aces, with sophomore transfer Dallas Gardner leading the way with two. Purple also shined with 10 team blocks, as Natali Jones had a team-best one solo block and three block assists.

Senior middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger had a team-high 10 kills for the White team, recording a .409 hitting percentage. Meanwhile, senior outside hitter Courtney Traxson led the Purple team with 10 kills.

New setter Katie Brand notched 36 assists for Purple as well as turning in three block assists. For the redshirt-freshman, her focus was helping the team make strides on the offensive side.

“Right now, we’re really working on our offense and that was the key for us tonight,” Brand said. “We really need to grow on offense, and I thought tonight we showed great improvements.”

Coach Fritz, although she saw plenty of positives and improvements needed from her squad, still sees a team that wants to improve and prepare itself for a real opponent.

“We are demanding a lot from them and I think they are trying to give us everything they have,” Fritz said. “We are trying to pull out more, so I think they have been committed, incredibly coachable and I think they are buying into the things that we are asking them to do and that is a really good start.”

The Wildcats start their season on Aug. 30 at the UNLV Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev.

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