The story of this year’s K-State volleyball team begins with its youth. Overall, it’s one of the youngest Wildcats that has not only made a splash with the team, but has taken her place as one of the premiere players in this conference.
Freshman outside hitter Kylee Zumach arrived in Manhattan from her home in Buffalo, Minnesota last spring.
She has played volleyball her whole life and became a coach’s daughter in eighth grade when her mother coached her final middle school year and then got a chance to coach her daughter again in her final two years of high school.
Zumach came into K-State with the confidence of anything but a freshman. The second she takes the floor, she shows the persona of a veteran player.
“I came in here and I told the coaches that I wanted to make a big impact and make a name for myself,” Zumach said of her arrival on campus. “They were like ‘alright, it’s going to be a lot of hard work,’ I know people kind of doubted me and I was like ‘Okay, just let me do my thing.’ That was kind of my mindset going into it.”
The freshman has done her thing and some for the Wildcats.
Zumach has hit the Big 12 like a hurricane, ranking third in the Big 12 with 180 kills. She also leads all other freshmen in the Big 12 in that category.
“I’m clicking with everyone on the court,” Zumach said of her recent success. “Passing wise, sets from Katie Brand, blocking with our other middles, everything is just meshing so well right now.”
Zumach has already made history in her young career for this Wildcat team. She is the only K-State player in program history to win three consecutive Big 12 Rookie of the Week titles. In fact, no K-State player has won any player of the week award in more than two consecutive weeks.
“I’m just happy she’s playing well because it’s good for our team,” head coach Suzie Fritz said. “After having Kylee all last spring, it became very clear that she would be a important part of what we were doing offensively. I don’t really get caught up in the fact if you are a freshman or a senior, I think you have a job to do and she just happens to be put in that position a bit earlier than some other people.”
Even while her performance on the court has been a spectacle, Zumach is still a freshman adjusting to her first year of living alone and college life.
“Since I came in in the spring it’s helped my transition a lot,” the 6-foot-4-inch freshman said. “But the fall is crazy. I’ve missed the last Thursday and Friday of class for the past four weeks. So that’s been really hard.”
Her roommate, redshirt sophomore middle blocker Katie Reninger, has seen all aspects of Zumach’s life adjusting to college life both on the court and off.
“She’s been working so hard and she just has this confidence about her that she brings to the court,” Reninger said of her roommate. “Off the court, she is just hilarious and really working hard to make connections with everyone on the team. So she’s really outgoing and really bubbly and we all connect to her in some way or the other and it’s awesome to see a freshman step up and take that role.”
In addition to her on court achievements, like a lot of member of the K-State athletic family, in-class achievements are equally important to the public relations major.
“Our volleyball team has won the Big 12 academics the past how many years,” Zumach said. “I want to live up to that. I want to help.”
Even with being extremely grounded in the moment, Zumach can’t help but look down the road.
“It’s cheesy to say this but I want to win the Big 12,” Zumach said. “I want to be one of the upper teams. People can laugh at me but that’s my goal and I want to do it.”
People who want to laugh should be weary. Like she told her coaches, she just wanted to do her thing and her thing is winning.