Coach: Husker venue full of atmosphere, tradition


With a full week to rest, the K-State volleyball team looks to pick back up where it left off: with a win.

After its last bye weekend of the year, K-State returns to the court for a daunting challenge, and head coach Suzie Fritz said her team is rested and ready to go.

“I think we’ve come back rejuvenated from it,” she said. “I know we’ve gotten two really good days of practice. I think our kids are more optimistic.”

With last Wednesday’s downing of Texas Tech, in which the team bounced back after a month of unflattering losses, the Wildcats (10-15, 4-10 Big 12 Conference) head north to take on No. 5 University of Nebraska (22-2, 14-1). This match, though, will not be as easy as last week’s.

At their home court in Memorial Coliseum, the Cornhuskers are undefeated in all 10 matches, including those against some of the biggest and best teams, like top-10 Illinois. Part of that might be due to the atmosphere that rocks the house in a way Fritz said even opponents can take pleasure in.

“It’s actually, I think, a tremendous volleyball environment, and one that we enjoy playing in,” Fritz said. “They’ve been good for a long time, so that makes it a difficult place to play, not because it’s necessarily a really hostile environment. There’s a lot of people, but they’re good, supportive volleyball fans; they like good volleyball.”

The Cornhuskers lost to Texas at the end of October in the terminal contest of their 18-match winning streak and their first loss in the conference, which dropped them from the No. 2 position to the current ranking as fifth in the nation. Even so, Nebraska remains among the top programs this season.

Overall in the series between Nebraska and K-State, the former has won 79 of 82 meetings. However, two of K-State’s wins were with the present head coach.

In the last matchup this season, when Nebraska trounced K-State in Manhattan, the Wildcats actually fared pretty well, despite the numbers on the scoreboard. In multiple games, K-State took the Cornhuskers to the very end and often held a lead in the beginning, but the team could not pull off the upset. This time around, Fritz said she is optimistic that her team will do even better.

“I have hopes of playing better against them than we did the first time,” Fritz said. “I think we played OK the first time, but I think I have high expectations for trying to play better the second time. Hopefully we’re better. Chances are, they’re better.”

First serve is set for 7 p.m. in Lincoln, Neb. Fans who cannot attend the match can watch the televised broadcast through CBS College Sports, Metro Sports and NET or listen on the radio through KMAN-AM 1350.