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Surging Cats host Longhorns

By Brady Bauman

Kansas State volleyball coach Suzie Fritz has said all season she’s not one to look back on the past.

All year, Fritz, her assistant coaches and her players have stayed true to that. The Wildcats — ranked 14th — have cemented themselves in that mindset.

But for this weekend, that may be the right focus to have.

K-State will host the No. 9 Texas Longhorns in Ahearn Field House on Saturday night at 7.

Since the beginning of the series dating back to 1981, the Longhorns have overwhelmingly had K-State’s number.

Texas leads the all-time series 27-7 and has beaten the Wildcats 17 straight times since K-State took a five-set match on Oct. 15, 2003 — the year K-State won the Big 12 in football, women’s basketball and, yes, volleyball.

“We don’t think about the past,” Fritz said when asked about the series history following Thursday’s practice. “It doesn’t effect my confidence or our confidence in our team’s ability whatsoever, because the past is the past.

“But I think what makes (Texas) so good is that they are incredibly talented.”

But so is K-State.

The Wildcats are 16-1 and 3-1 in Big 12 play. K-State is ranked in the top five of the conference in every statistical category and are seventh in the nation in RPI, eight spots above the Longhorns.

Also, the Wildcats are fresh off a three-set sweep of No. 22 Iowa State on Wednesday night — a team K-State hadn’t beaten since 2007.

“We don’t care to think about (the past),” senior co-captain Kathleen Ludwig said. “We’re just really excited for another opportunity to compete in Ahearn. We’ve just been glad to be in Manhattan for (an entire) week.”

Texas comes to town 12-3 and a perfect 5-0 in the Big 12. The Longhorns have won their last six matches by 3-0 sweeps — which included Oklahoma, K-State’s lone loss.

Texas’ losses have come from Illinois, Minnesota and Penn State — three Top 25 opponents. Penn State is currently ranked No. 1.

“(Texas) is a very strong program,” Ludwig said. “They have been historically and we are just excited to play the best that we can and see what we can do.

“They are a tough opponent for a lot of people. They are very physical and they are very tall and hit really, really high. They are also very athletic… they can do a lot of things.”

Ludwig admitted the Wildcats are in a good rhythm at the moment to be facing a team as talented as the Longhorns. But she said it doesn’t make the challenge of ending a nine-year, 17-match losing streak to UT any easier.

“It’s a great time,” she said. “We feel excited and we feel happy about what we are doing, but I don’t think Texas is easy to play no matter when you face them in the season. But we’re definitely excited to be home and to get an opportunity to compete.

“We’re excited about how we are playing right now, and hopefully we’ll keep that rolling this weekend, for sure.”

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