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Cats ready for another weekend test

By Brady Bauman

The Kansas State volleyball team started the season in winning fashion by going 3-0 in last weekend’s Varney’s Invitational, and hopes to continue that trend with another weekend tournament.

The Wildcats, who were bumped up a spot in the national polls to No. 21 this week, will travel to Omaha, Neb., this weekend to take part in the Bluejay Invitational, hosted by Creighton.

K-State will begin play Friday afternoon at 3:30 against Denver, then play Creighton on Saturday at noon before closing out the tournament against Syracuse at 5:30 that night.

Wildcats head coach Suzie Fritz said the previous weekend — which had the team playing three matches in 48 hours — took its toll. She said it will be a challenge to overcome a similar workload this weekend.

“We’re fighting through some fatigue a little bit,” Fritz said following Wednesday’s practice. “Three matches in two days is a tough go, and we have to do it again this weekend. I wasn’t satisfied with where we were at in practice (Tuesday), but I thought we were better today.

“We still have plenty of work to do.”

K-State began its season last weekend with a three-set win last Friday night against UC Irvine then won again with another three-set victory Saturday afternoon against Oakland. The Wildcats topped off the day with a hard-fought, come-from-behind win against Oregon State in five sets.

“There were a lot of positive things (about last weekend),” Fritz said. “We were really happy with the serving pressure we were able to put on through a good majority of the weekend. Not only did we serve with good pace, but we put it where it needed to go. That was a bright spot for us and something we’ve been working on.

“I thought we played really spontaneously. I thought in difficult situations we held it together enough to stay in and find ways to score points, and manage pressure situations real well.”

Senior libero Kuulei Kabalis said the quick turnaround from a three-match weekend into another won’t be easy.

“It’s pretty tough coming from three games and then going straight back into three more games,” the Hawaii native said. “But we do the best we can with our team and keep practicing hard to make sure we get every little thing to the ‘T’.

“Knowing that every day we come into practice, just having the mindset that we want to get better, that we are able to have a good weekend, even if we didn’t have three games coming up. Having that goal set doesn’t make (the number of games) matter.”

After the first weekend, junior Kaitlynn Pelger leads the team in kills with 40 and fellow junior Lilla Porubek is just behind with 38. Senior Alex Muff and junior Courtney Traxson are the other Wildcats in double-digits so far with 21 apiece.

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