Volleyball coach, team look for fresh start after disappointing 2006 season

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The 2006 season was not a pleasant one for the K-State volleyball team, as the Wildcats finished 11th in the Big 12 Conference.

No one took the dismal season harder than coach Suzie Fritz. But after losing just one senior from last year’s squad, Fritz said she can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“We are more veteran,” Fritz said. “All of those kids have another year of experience.”

Fritz also said she believes this year’s squad has stronger leadership, starting with captains Angie Lastra, Stacey Spiegelberg and Lauren Rosenthal.

“I like our senior leadership. I like their vocal leadership. I like the leadership they are providing by example,” Fritz said. “Since 2003, I think these are the strongest leaders we’ve had.”

For Fritz, the leadership starts with Lastra, a senior libero.

“There is nobody better than Angie,” Fritz said. “She is the spark. She makes a play that gets everyone going.”

K-State opened last season ranked 25th in the American Volleyball Coach’s Association/CSTV Poll, but finished with a 12-18 overall record and a 4-16 Big 12 Conference mark.

“The 2006 season was hard on us all. It’s hard on the kids. It’s hard on the coaches. It’s hard on you,” Fritz said. “We couldn’t have been working any harder to try to find ways to get wins.”

The Wildcats hope to improve their fortunes this season with six newcomers: junior Nataly Korobkova and freshmen Sarah Allison, JuliAnne Chisholm, Charissa Dugan, Abby Fay and LaurenMathewson.

Korobkova, a 6-foot-3Russian native and transfer from the State Siberian Technological University, was named the preseason pick for Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. Korobkova had a short list of goals when she arrived in the United States in March.

“My goal is to win the national championship,” Korobkova said.

Fritz understands Korobkova’s potential and said she believes the outside hitter can add a new wrinkle to K-State’s attack.

“She is as physically gifted as any player we’ve ever had,” Fritz said. “I think she is capable of some very, very extraordinary things.”

Korobkova will provide extra depth for the Wildcats this season at outside hitter, a position that was thin last year with the loss of junior Rita Liliom to a season ending knee injury.

The Wildcats open the season Friday at the Shocker Classic in Wichita.

K-State’s first home challenge will be on Aug. 28 against Houston.

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