No. 16 Wildcats prepares for Baylor

By Brady Bauman

As the 16th-ranked Kansas State volleyball teams nears the final stretch of the regular season, head coach Suzie Fritz isn’t worried about the target on the Wildcats’ back getting bigger.

That pressure, Fritz said, is — and has been — an internal one.

“I think we feel an enormous amount of pressure, and I don’t think anybody is putting it on us,” Fritz said Thursday. “Our internal expectations, and I mean from the team, inside out, are really high. Their expectations for what they want to accomplish — their objectives, their goals — are significant, and attainable, at the same time, in my opinion.”

K-State (19-3, 6-3 Big 12) will face Baylor (16-8, 3-6) Saturday at 7 p.m. in Ahearn Field House. The Cats defeated the Bears earlier this season in Waco, 3-1.

Baylor has won two of its last three with wins against TCU and West Virginia — both at home. The victory against the Horned Frogs came in five sets, while the Mountaineers’ win came in a 3-0 sweep. The loss came against Texas in Austin, where Baylor was just three points away from sending the match to a fifth set Wednesday.

K-State has also won two of its last three, but perhaps experienced more adversity.

The Wildcats fell last week to rival Kansas in four sets in Lawrence and were forced into a five-set match against a struggling Texas Tech team that came back from a 2-0 deficit. K-State was able to pull away in the fifth.

Wednesday, the Wildcats tallied their 15th sweep of the season at West Virginia.

Fritz said the adversity K-State faced — especially against KU and the Red Raiders — provided lessons her team can learn from.

“You can learn a lot in losses, because you don’t want to repeat the same mistakes,” she said. “You can learn if you handle them the right way. They can also become debilitating, and become habitual. So, we want to use them as learning experiences more than anything else.

“You can’t keep from making mistakes. There are going to be things that are going to happen. There is no such thing as 110 percent, in my opinion. You can’t max-out each and every time. There are times when you are not at 100 percent, be it physically, mentally or emotionally, so we’re just trying to be as consistent as we can in all areas as often as we can.

“I think we’ve had a couple matches where we lost our rhythm a little bit and did not play particularly well. So, we just take that and encourage them to learn from them, and stay the course, if you will. We have a work list of things we know that are thorns for us, that we have to continue to get better at.”

The Wildcats go into Saturday’s match ranked high in many conference team statistics. K-State is second in the Big 12 in assists and kills per-set. The Wildcats also boast a team hitting percentage of .268 – second only to the Longhorns.

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