After a two-match road slide against Iowa State and Texas, No. 23 K-State (20-5, 7-4) takes on rival Kansas (18-7, 6-5) in Ahearn Field House tonight at 7:00 p.m.
The last meeting of the volleyball version of the Sunflower Showdown was a five-match brawl that saw the Wildcats emerge with their first victory over Jayhawks in Lawrence since the 2011 season.
“We won in five that game and I think we were really scrappy,” senior middle blocker Chelsea Keating, said. “We didn’t play well to start and we just got better as we went and I think we out worked them until the end of the game.”
The two losses prior to tonight’s match were the first back-to-back losses for K-State this season. A loss to Kansas would give head coach Suzie Fritz’s squad its first three-match conference losing streak since the end of the 2012 season.
“We have an urgency to play and we have an urgency to win every point, one point at a time,” sophomore libero, Sheridan Zarda, said of her team’s mentality. “We know some points aren’t going to go our way, but we have to fight back and have that urgency to turn it around and play our game.”
Despite it being K-State’s second matchup against Kansas this season, Fritz said the previous match doesn’t factor into much of the team’s preparation.
“You can make no comparisons because we played them over a month ago,” Fritz said. “There has been so much happening from then to now. You hope both teams have improved from that point.”
K-State enters tonight’s match in a similar position to what it was in prior to the first matchup in Lawrence. The team was coming off the disappointment of dropping a five-set match at home to Baylor and snapping a 11-match winning streak.
They came out sluggish, but found resiliency when it was needed most in the five-set victory. Since then, they’ve been one of the top teams in the conference and have steadily been ranked in the top 25 in the nation.
Now, coming off dropping two-straight, K-State has a chance to right their ship once again going into the heart of the season.
“When you get into late October and into November, your ability to be resilient becomes even more critical,” Fritz said. “Now the cumulative effect of wear and tear is in place but everyone has got it, so the teams that are willing to fight through that, fight through the fact that we’ve played a lot of matches now and some of the newness has worn off and now you’re grinding. You’re fighting for position, you’re fighting for NCAA tournament opportunities, you’re fighting for seed opportunities.”