Wildcat volleyball ready to take on Horned Frogs Saturday night

Head volleyball coach Suzie Fritz applauses a player during the game against Baylor University in Ahearn Field House on Sept. 26, 2015. (Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

After playing five matches in eight days, K-State volleyball got a seven-day break from action but is eager to get back on the court Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas against TCU at 5 p.m.

“It was much needed to have this break,” head coach Suzie Fritz said after practice on Wednesday. “It was a tough stretch with four of those matches coming on the road, which is a lot. The other thing is that our players are students, too. They are trying balance their course workload and playing is physically, emotionally and mentally hard.”

Fritz also said this past week was a good time to work on some things that they haven’t had time to get to.

“We were off Sunday and Monday to get a bit of a break, but got back to work on Tuesday at practice,” she said. “It’s the first time we’ve actually been able to find some balance between work, which is what we need, recovery and rest.”

The Cats broke a four-match losing streak last Saturday against the Baylor Bears winning 3-0 inside Ahearn Field House.

“Our attackers were very purposeful in finding different ways to score,” Fritz said. “They were tipping to score, they were finding the edges of the block, sometimes hitting the ball hard, and sometimes doing exactly the opposite and hitting it soft. All of that goes into offensive productivity and that’s where I thought we were good.”

All-American Katie Brand had 32 assists in the winning effort, setting up her teammates in perfect position for a kill many times.

“A lot of what you do offensively is determined by what’s in front of you,” Fritz said. “I think a lot of people don’t understand that is a lot of tactic at her position.”

Fritz added by saying Brand was the equivalent of the quarterback when she has to read the defense and know where to go with the ball.

“There is so much decision making in her position,” Fritz said. “She makes reads and checks off receivers in a way with what’s working and what isn’t. Those decisions are happening in seconds or sometimes milliseconds and she does a great job in that aspect.”

Brand helped her teammate Katie Reininger numerous times as Reininger had 13 kills in the win against Baylor.

“One of the best things she is good at is her level of execution and her effort is always there,” Reininger said about Brand. “I can always rely on her to go 110 percent. There is never a time in my mind when I’m thinking she’s not going to set me.”

And after playing so many matches in so little time, every team needs a source of laughter, and for this team, it comes from Reininger. She can always be found with a smile on her face when she is not in the heat of competition and has some pretty good dance moves, too.

“I just love being here and playing for K-State,” Reininger said with a smile, of course. “This team is great and we are a really good group of girls that I love being around them. We play better when we are relaxed, so I guess my leadership strategy has been ‘relax, people, when things get tight’ because I think we play better when we are goofy.”

The Wildcats sit with a record of 9-5 overall and 1-1 in conference play. TCU is 11-4 overall, but 1-2 in conference play. The Horned Frogs lost to No. 3 nationally ranked Texas and No. 12 ranked Kansas in their first two games of Big 12 play.

In the 15 matches TCU has played, 11 of them have only gone to three sets. They are 8-3 in those 11 matches that have been settled in straight sets.

The Wildcats have won five of their last six meetings against TCU, including going 2-0 last season without even dropping a set.

“I think the majority of what we do doesn’t have anything to do with who we are playing,” Fritz said. “Hopefully the things we’ve been working on this past week will be things we improve on. We just need to play our game and get better at what we do and that’s our main focus.”