Monday marked the official start of the 2011 volleyball season for the Kansas State Wildcats as the team reported for camp at Ahearn Field House.
The Wildcats went through the routine of paperwork, equipment checkout and various other administrative work before they were to take to the court Tuesday morning for the first practice of the season.
Last week, K-State head coach Suzie Fritz said she is excited to get on the court and see the progress her players made during voluntary summer workouts and look to build off momentum gained with back-to-back wins to close the 2010 campaign.
The Wildcats will play their first match in Atlanta, Ga., when K-State travels to participate in the Georgia Tech Courtyard Classic on Aug. 26. K-State opens against the host Yellow Jackets at 6 p.m. from the O’Keefe Gymnasium.
The Wildcats will also take on Tennessee Tech and 2010 NCAA tournament participant Louisville at the Courtyard Classic before heading home for the first home match of the season.
K-State’s first home match of the 2011 season will be against Missouri Valley Conference member Creighton at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 from Ahearn Field House. The Bluejays also reached the NCAA tournament last season to help boost the strength of K-State’s schedule. The 2011 season will feature 13 home matches, including eight in the newly revamped Big 12 Conference.
The annual Varney’s Kansas State Invitational will bring Idaho, BYU and NCAA tournament team Georgia Southern to Manhattan to play in the tournament Sept. 2-3. The tournament falls on the only Wildcat Weekend of the season, as football opens its season at home that weekend against Eastern Kentucky.
The 2011 roster welcomes back seven players with extensive starting experience from a year ago, including Big 12 All-Freshman Team member Kaitlynn Pelger. Pelger led the Wildcats in kills as a freshman and became K-State’s only freshman to post a triple-triple season with 328 kills, 134 digs and 100 blocks.
A total of 10 letterwinners are back for the Wildcats as well. Players with starting experience include Caitlyn Donahue (setter), Tristan McCarty (defensive specialist), Kathleen Ludwig (opposite), Alex Muff (middle blocker), Lilla Porubek (outside hitter) and Dakota Kaufman (outside hitter).
K-State lost starters JuliAnne Chisholm and Lauren Mathewson after completing their volleyball eligibility. Chisholm is now a member of the women’s basketball team at K-State, and Mathewson is a graduate assistant coach at Truman State.
With the loss of only two starters, K-State returns much of its offensive production from a year ago. The Wildcats have 75 percent of their kills returning for 2011. The players on the 2011 roster also accounted for 80 percent of the service aces and 97 percent of the blocks in 2010.
To prepare for the season the Wildcats have three weeks of practice leading up to the Georgia Tech Courtyard Classic.
K-State will play its annual Purple/White Scrimmage on Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. in Ahearn Field House.