With Thanksgiving break approaching and most students shifting straight down into low gear, the K-State volleyball team is choosing the opposite route: a match against one of the top teams in the conference.
“I think it’ll be good for us to kind of get rid of those distractions of school and everything and just be able to focus strictly on volleyball,” said sophomore middle blocker Alex Muff.
This Saturday, K-State (10-18, 4-13 Big 12 Conference) will travel south to face Oklahoma (19-9, 11-6). The Sooners are something of an odd team out, as they fail to fit into any group in the league.
They are barely good enough for the triangle at the top: Nebraska, Texas and Iowa State. Barely is the key word; Iowa State and Oklahoma have the same conference record, but Oklahoma has one more overall win and two more losses, lowering its percentage by five points. This puts the Sooners just under the top-three category, but they belong among the best, especially considering that they have both beaten and lost to Iowa State.
On the other end, Oklahoma is bounds ahead of the lower six schools in the conference, speaking mostly in terms of conference record and schedule success. This puts the Sooners into something of a third wheel with Missouri, which has almost the exact same bragging rights.
All this means that when the Wildcats meet up with the Sooners, they will have their work cut out for them.
“They’ll put it on you fast,” said head coach Suzie Fritz. “They’ll score points on you fast if you’re not ready to go; if you haven’t flipped the switch when the match starts. It’ll get away from you in a hurry.”
Oddly enough, though Oklahoma finds itself near the top in the standings, it is smack dab in the middle of all team statistics save one. The Sooners are fifth in hitting percentage, sixth in opponent hitting percentage, sixth in assists, sixth in kills, sixth in blocks and sixth in digs, with the only discrepancy coming from their 10th-place spot for service aces. More or less, despite its pleasant record so far this season, Oklahoma is average in all categories.
But this is certainly significant, because virtually no other team can boast of this wide-ranging consistency. Oklahoma might not be the best in any one mark, but it can hold its own in all, making it well-rounded and a good challenge in all facets of the sport.
“I think it’ll be good competition,” Muff said. “It’s always a good game, a good environment down there. I think it’ll be a fun game.”
However, the question remains whether or not K-State can pull itself together and play up to its ability, which Muff said was certainly possible.
“I think everyone has confidence in us,” she said. “I think that as long as we have that confidence in ourselves and our teammates, we can win out this season; win these last three games.”
Fritz said she enjoys this part of the season.
“I love it,” Fritz said. “We get to just focus on volleyball, which is kind of nice, and eat some turkey maybe.”
First serve is set for 3 p.m.