The K-State volleyball team traveled to Kazan, Russia over the summer to represent the United States in the World University Games.
K-State played six matches over seven days while overseas, winning just one of them. Despite the five losses, K-State head coach Suzie Fritz felt the experience was very positive for her team.
“It was invaluable,” Fritz said at the team’s media day on Aug. 21.
K-State was selected to represent Team USA at the International University Sports Federation’s World University Games by BTI Events.
The matches the Wildcats played in Russia included teams of Olympic and professional caliber, according to Fritz. The team lost matches against Russia, Poland, China and Czech Republic. Their lone victory came in a sweep of Norway.
“The level that some of those teams were playing at, we just aren’t there yet. It was a big jump for us,” Fritz said.
While the Wildcats’ record overall was not ideal, the game experience and practice were things that most programs did not have access to. Most collegiate volleyball teams spend the June and July months lifting, conditioning and playing against each other.
Typically, there is a learning curve that begins as the season officially kicks off in August and September.
“We were able to work out a lot of the kinks in June that normally we are working out in September,” Fritz said.
That could prove to be even more vital for the younger players on the team. The Wildcats are expected to start redshirt freshman Katie Brand at setter.
“When I talk about working out the kinks, Katie is a significant part of that,” Fritz said. “This trip was huge for that aspect.”
As for any negatives associated with a trip like this, Fritz was quick to cite “the burnout factor” as something she was keeping an eye on.
“It’s a long season,” Fritz said. “This trip can add to our fatigue, to some degree. So we need to be a little more careful of some things in the preseason. We’ve adjusted some things we normally do. We aren’t practicing as long or as much right now as we usually do.”
Even with the added workload, Fritz made it clear this trip was about more than just volleyball.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us,” Fritz said.