No one associated with the Kansas State volleyball team knew what to expect when the Wildcats gathered to watch the NCAA Tournament selection show Sunday.
An overall record of 17-11 was solid, and a 9-7 Big 12 mark gave the Wildcats a shot at inclusion. But they also ended the year on a three-game losing streak. Everyone doubted their chances until they saw K-State’s name flash across the broadcast.
“We were kind of shocked,” junior Katie Brand said. “We didn’t know we were in for 100 percent, so when we saw that we were, we were just so excited. It’s like we have this whole new life. I have noticed that in practice the last few days.”
The Wildcats will take their renewed energy into a first-round matchup against Wichita State at 4:30 p.m. Friday in Lincoln. Neb. The winner will likely face Nebraska in the second round.
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K-State has experience traveling north for the NCAA Tournament. This will be its fourth straight postseason trip to Nebraska. It has gone 2-2 over that time, with both wins coming in 2011 when it upset Nebraska in the second round and made the Sweet 16.
Coach Suzie Fritz expects a difficult opening game against the Shockers, describing them as “really good.” But she also thinks her team is ready to take advantage of a postseason trip it wasn’t sure it would make a few days ago.
“The last month we have had some frustrating losses where we haven’t performed very well,” Fritz said. “But I think we are starting to turn it around. We have had two really good days of practice. I like where the team’s mind is at. We are really starting to feel good.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett