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K-State volleyball to represent Team USA

By Brady Bauman

The Kansas State volleyball team has been selected to represent Team USA in the 2013 World University Games this summer, K-State announced Tuesday afternoon.

The games — known as the “Universiade” outside the U.S. — is a multi-sport event similar in design to the Olympics and is played every two years.

The 2013 Universiade will be hosted by Kazan, Russia, July 6-17.

“This is a very exciting day for K-State, and one that reflects our commitment to Kansas State University to the whole experience for our student-athletes, and our goal of a world-class student-athlete experience,” K-State athletic director John Currie said. “About a month ago, Coach (Suzie) Fritz called me one day and told me that we had been contacted with this opportunity to represent the United States of America in the World University Games.

“She was very excited, and wanted to ask if we could possibly consider finding a way to do it. She probably knows that I am kind of a sucker for international studies, and international learning. We are very fortunate that we have great resources from our contributors and season ticket holders. We had one of the Top 25 volleyball attendance in the county, and obviously a great program under Coach Fritz’s leadership.”

The Wildcats will face Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic in their pool.

Fritz said the opportunity for her players to put on a Team USA jersey was too good to pass up.

“We are honored by the invitation, and it is a once-in-a-life time opportunity for us,” she said. “We get to pack up our team and go half way across the world, and we get to represent our country. It is something, as an athlete and a student-athlete, you don’t have very many opportunities to do.

“We’ll have an opportunity to compete with some of the best athletes in the world in the age range of 18 to 27. We’ll be competing against players that have tremendous international experience, potentially have professional experience, and some that are the best in the world.

“We are honored to be a part of it.”

The Wildcats finished last season 21-9 and was selected to the NCAA tournament — losing in the first round.

The season before, K-State went 22-11 and upset No. 2 Nebraska in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Lincoln to advance to the Sweet 16, where it lost to Pepperdine in Hawaii.

Defensive specialist Tristan McCarty, who will be a senior next season, is thankful for the opportunity to represent her country.

“It is an exciting opportunity, like Coach Fritz said, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” the former Manhattan High standout said. “You hardly ever get to hear that you get to go around the world and play the sport that you love every day. As a little girl, you always want to play at the top of your game, and we finally get the opportunity to do so.”

Fritz said the chance to play at such a high level in the summer bodes well for her team’s preparation for next fall.

“There is some significant advantage,” she said. “The NCAA rules don’t allow you to spend any time with your team. Most years when we show up in early August, we have two weeks to be prepared for a very competitive Big 12 season, so we have some limitations in terms of how long we have them ready to go.

“This opportunity just accelerates that process for us. We get a little bit of training time going into the event, and we get 12 days of competition essentially to be able to play over the course of three days… I think the advantages from a competitive preparation perspective are unmatched.”

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