The spring semester is nearing its end and the Kansas State volleyball team has finished its spring practice period in preparation for the 2013 season this fall.
K-State entered the spring workouts with a list of areas the coaches wanted to work on, and head coach Suzie Fritz believes her team has made improvements in them all.
“We made progress in the areas that we put our time and attention to, but we still have work to do,” she said. “As it pertains to commitment and work ethic, we couldn’t ask for more.”
For some, the improvement was viewed as the normal routine. Working hard during the offseason is part of the game in order to get better for the fall. If you are not working hard, you are not getting better; and senior defensive specialist Tristan McCarty made sure she and her teammates were getting better every day.
“It’s just the same as every other year. You have assignments you need to get better on. Strengths you need to be capitalizing on and continue to try and be there as a supporting role for everybody else,” McCarty said.
The Wildcats were challenged with the task of replacing five seniors, four of whom were starters and played key roles throughout their careers at K-State. Spring workouts served as an opportunity for new players to take on leadership roles and step up on the court. A number of players have already taken those steps.
“We have spent a great deal of time in the spring focused on individual development and believe we have a great deal of players who are ready for bigger roles and contributions,” Fritz said. “During our spring competitions and scrimmages, we really enjoyed seeing the way this team has responded to the opportunities and challenges presented to them.”
One role the Wildcats must replace is the starting setter position. Caitlyn Donahue completed her eligibility at K-State this fall and just finished her first season of professional volleyball in Puerto Rico.
After starting for three years at the position, Katie Brand and Bailey Shurbet stepped in during spring practices to lead the offense.
Making the transition from one setter to another can be a major change for a volleyball team as the new setter learns each hitter’s preferences.
Learning that early on was a goal for both Brand and Shurbet. Senior middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger said she already feels like she established that relationship with Brand.
“It is a really difficult adjustment because the setter controls the whole court,” Pelger said. “You have to be very high in communication, and Donahue was very communicative. I feel like Katie has understood we all trust her and we want her to take that assertive role and I think that she has.”
K-State had a few opportunities to compete with other teams during the spring. The Wildcats participated in the Lone Star Classic College Shootout, taking on teams from the SEC as well as NCAA champion Texas. K-State also faced Illinois in a scrimmage and hosted Washburn at Ahearn Field House for a joint open practice and scrimmage.
With the conclusion of spring practices, K-State will have some time off before reporting to begin training for the World University Games where the Wildcats will trade their purple and white for red, white and blue and represent Team USA at the Games in Kazan, Russia in July.
K-State volleyball opens the regular season in August and will play its first home match on Sept. 6 against Southeast Missouri State when the Wildcats host their annual tournament.
The Wildcats will have 13 home matches this fall and season tickets are on sale now.