KAZAN, Russia — The Kansas State volleyball team’s time representing Team USA on the court at the World University Games came to a close Sunday with a 1-3 loss to China.
Playing as the American contingent at the Games, K-State went 1-5 overall, while facing some elite talent and teams — embracing the opportunity and experience every step along the way.
“We came into this opportunity knowing that we would be overmatched in some ways, but that we wanted to be competitive, as well as learn and improve as a team,” K-State head coach Suzie Fritz said. “I thought that we got better as we went during the competition, but was a little disappointed that we didn’t play more consistently in the China match.
“We didn’t manage the game at the level that we are capable of, and these are teams that you must make earn points.”
Team USA lost to China 20-25, 19-25, 25-22, 17-25 in the consolation bracket. After putting up a big block at the net throughout the World University Games, the Wildcats were only able to stuff the Chinese six times. China was unable to provide much of a blocking presence either, as both teams saw strong outputs on offense.
K-State posted 51 kills, with three players reaching double digits. Senior outside hitter Courtney Traxson led the way with 12 kills on her 27 swings. Junior Chelsea Keating added 11 kills, and Kaitlynn Pelger joined in on the action with 10 kills. Pelger also served well for the Wildcats, tallying three aces.
The team showed signs of improvement throughout the Games, and had the opportunity to cheer on their fellow Americans at a few other sporting events.
Fritz said she and her staff were happy to see the growth of the team and how the players can use the experience to continue to push themselves.
“This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said. “From the perspective of a cultural and competitive experience, it was second to none. Our opportunity to be exposed to volleyball at this level, and the chance to play against players and teams that are more experienced than ourselves helped us grow up and mature as a volleyball team.
“Our team has now been exposed to a higher level of volleyball than they have ever known and can set higher standards for how they want to play.”
Although the Wildcats are done competing, K-State still has some time in Russia. The team had plans to do some sightseeing Monday before traveling home.
Fritz said she is thankful for the experience she and her team had at the World University Games and knows it was a special event for the Wildcats.
“The entire experience has been one of growth and improvement for all of us and we’re very fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the World University Games,” Fritz said.