Cats trip to Hawaii exciting, homecoming for a player

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The Wildcats look to continue their magical run through the NCAA volleyball tournament as they get back on the court tonight night in Honolulu. The Wildcats will take on the Pepperdine Waves, who enter the match as the 15th ranked team in the tournament.

K-State (22-10) is coming off a thrilling five-set upset over the second ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. As special as this match is for the Wildcats as a team, it is a homecoming for Kuulei Kabalis.

Kabalis, a junior, is coming back to her home state. Kabalis is the first player from Hawaii to play at K-State. At Tuesday’s press conference, Kabalis talked about her excitement to return home.

“It is so exciting for me and my team,” Kabalis said. “I am so excited to bring them back with me to my home rock and play in front of people that I know and my family. I never get this kind of opportunity, so it is huge.”

Pepperdine (24-6) is coming off a victory over North Carolina. The Waves are led by Kim Hill, who is averaging 3.89 kills per set on the season. The Waves’ offense is set up by Kellie Woolever, who averages more than 11 assists a set on the season.

Coach Fritz talked about what type of challenges that her team will face from Pepperdine.

“I think they are very balanced,” Fritz said. “I think they are very good at the pins and generally when you get to this point, if you can have two or three pin-hitters of that caliber, then you can be in it and play with anybody, and I think they have got that.”

First team All-Big-12 selection Kaitlynn Pelger said that her team has put the upset victory behind them, and is now focused on Pepperdine.

“I think you can only talk about a win for so long,” Pelger said. “We came in today, got better and talked about Pepperdine a little bit. Our coaches are going to prepare us when we get to Hawaii. We are just excited that we are playing our best volleyball right now.”

The match will be broadcast on KMAN-AM 1350 with Rob Voelker covering the game. The match will also be available on the station’s website and free online at kstatesports.com, as well as espn3.com. Pregame starts at 8:30 p.m. CST. If K-State advances to Saturday’s regional final, that match will be at 11 p.m. CST with pregame starting 30 minutes prior to the first serve.

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