K-State Volleyball team looks to improve next season with returning players

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This season was certainly less than ideal for the K-State volleyball team, but it did see some promise for improvement in the next.

“I certainly don’t feel like we met our internal expectations, and that’s the most important thing,” said head coach Suzie Fritz. “But I don’t think of that as taking a step backward.”

Even though her team did not improve this season from the last, Fritz said it did get better in just this year.

“Every time we went to play an opponent the second time, we were better,” Fritz said. “It was very rewarding for us to be able to win our last two, because I think that showed that they didn’t check out on us.”

She added that attacking was first on her team’s list of things to work on.

“We have to kill more balls,” Fritz said. “That’s the number one thing.”

Looking forward to the next season, here are some of the players to keep your eye on.

Junior middle blocker Alex Muff — Muff remains the dominant blocking force on the team. With 1.31 blocks per game, she is second in the Big 12 Conference and 22nd in the nation. If Muff could bolster her attacking, then she would be a lethal weapon and most likely emerge as the top athlete in her position.

“Alex does things at the net that we’ve never had a middle blocker do,” Fritz said.

Junior opposite hitter Kathleen Ludwig — This Shawnee, Kan., native will most likely come back next season as the main leader for one reason: her infectious personality. Whether she is dancing courtside before a match or hyping up her team in practice with unconditional acceptance, Ludwig knows how to motivate for success. Plus, her hits are consistent, which helps to move her team up at a steady and reliable rate.

Junior setter Caitlyn Donahue — In a new position this year, Donahue has had perhaps the biggest challenge of anyone on the team, but she has done remarkably well. The coaches put her there for a reason, and they were certainly not wrong. With her ability to get to shanked balls and make rapid-fire decisions, Donahue definitely helps her team as a setter and has secured her position for some time to come.

Sophomore middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger — Last week, Pelger was named Rookie of the Week for her recording-breaking performances in the final matches and this week as a member of the Big 12 All-Freshman Team. She is the first freshman at K-State to post triple digits in three categories, with 328 kills, 100 blocks and 134 digs. All statistics from Pelger portend a huge career, maybe even one for the record books.

“She’ll make significant improvements over the next three years and be a much different player by the time she’s done,” Fritz said. “Maybe one of the best we’ve had in that position.”

Sophomore defensive specialist Tristan McCarty — Filling one of the two vacated spots in the back row, McCarty paired superbly with Mathewson and showed incredible talent in her position. Next season, with the record-setting libero graduating this year, McCarty will probably move up the ranks and take on a larger role for the defense, just like Mathewson did. And, if this season is any indication, McCarty’s career will follow closely to Mathewson’s, which will be huge for the Wildcats.

Sophomore outside hitter Lilla Porubek — We have not seen a great deal of play from this Hungarian, but she always seems to take the court and make a huge impact in a short amount of time. Porubek is certainly on the watch-list for the upcoming seasons.

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