Wildcats have tough week ahead

By Brady Bauman

The Kansas State volleyball team has a week full of big matches and fortunately for the Wildcats, they are both at home.

K-State — which moved up to 14th in the national rankings Monday — will host No. 22 Iowa State Wednesday night in Ahearn Field House at 7 and will face No. 9 Texas on Saturday at 7 p.m.

The Wildcats (15-1, 2-1 Big 12) are coming off a winning week that saw a sweep of West Virginia in Manhattan last Thursday and a road win at Baylor on Saturday. The win in Waco, Texas, was the first time K-State had defeated Baylor on its home floor since 2008.

The Wildcats are also high on the RPI charts, which were released Monday for the first time this season — currently sitting at No. 7.

K-State head coach Suzie Fritz said she liked the way her team finished against Baylor. The Wildcats will hope that carries into tomorrow night’s match against Iowa State.

The Wildcats haven’t defeated the Cyclones — home or away —  since 2007. A win against ISU, which has been a power in the conference recently,  could go a long way in giving K-State’s national ranking and RPI more legitimacy.

“They are talented,” Fritz said about the Cyclones. “They are playing a young player (in freshman Mackenzie Bigbee) on the right who has become an important part of what they are doing and an important part of their offense. She is taking a lot of swings and leading them in kills.

“Their quick hitters have always been very effective and they like to set them… they use them a lot. And like Baylor, they are a good defensive team. They like to scrap and keep you off balance.”

While a No. 22 ranking is actually low for an Iowa State volleyball team this time of year and an 8-5, 2-1 Big 12 start is usually not how it starts out of the gate, the Cyclones are still dangerous. Just 10 days ago Iowa State defeated No. 1 Nebraska 3-1 in Ames.

K-State senior co-captain Alex Muff said the Cyclones provide an important challenge for the Wildcats.

“All the teams in the Big 12 are great competition,” she said. “But Iowa State is definitely one where if we’re going to win the Big 12, they are one we are going to have to beat. So, this is a great test for us midseason. We can set the standard for how we want the rest of the Big 12 to go and the rest of the season to go.”

Most importantly, though, Muff said she is glad to face these challenges in front of two home crowds.

“We’re just really excited to be at home for two straight games and having some really good competition,” Muff said. “It’s easier to compete to your best ability when you play at home, so I think this is a really great opportunity for us to capitalize on having these two teams in Ahearn and to give them our best shot.”

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