K-State volleyball closes out nonconference schedule in Arkansas tournament

Then-junior setter Katie Brand saves the ball on Nov. 11, 2015, in Ahearn Field House. (File Photo by Rodney Dimick | The Collegian)

After what has been an incredibly difficult preseason schedule, the Kansas State volleyball team will conclude the nonconference portion of its season this weekend in Arkansas.

The Wildcats are 8-2 so far this season and four of the teams they have played are either receiving votes or ranked in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.

K-State is coming off a four-set win over Creighton Tuesday night after losing the first set. The Blue Jays defeated the Wildcats last year in five sets.

“It’s a big win for us,” head coach Suzie Fritz said to K-State Sports after the match. “As much as I didn’t like the way the match started, I thought we got better as the match went on.”

The Wildcats now turn their attention to UMKC, Arkansas and Southern Miss as they look to keep moving up in the rankings before Big 12 play begins.

The first match of the weekend will be Friday at 10 a.m. when the Wildcats take on the UMKC Kangaroos.

The Kangaroos have had a nice start to their season; they are 7-3 and have won five of their last six matches. They will rely heavily on freshman outside hitter Alicia Harrington, who averages more than three kills a set and has 107 on the season.

Following that match, the Wildcats will take on Arkansas at 7 p.m. for a date with the Razorbacks. Unlike the Kangaroos, Arkansas has not had a good start to the season.

They are 1-7 so far this year, but have played very good teams such as Kansas, Nebraska and Illinois. Their loss to Kansas came in five sets in Lawrence on Sept. 3.

On Saturday, K-State battles Southern Miss in an morning match at 10. The Lady Eagles are 9-3 this season and are 4-0 in neutral court matches. They have won three of their past five matches leading up to this weekend.

These three matches will be good tests for the Wildcats, and they will look for the leadership of senior setter Katie Brand as well as junior opposite hitter Bryna Vogel in these matches.

Vogel is coming off an 18-kill game on Tuesday night, which was a career high for her at K-State.

After this road trip, the Wildcats will return home on Wednesday when they start the Big 12 portion of their schedule as they host Iowa State inside Ahearn Field House at 7 p.m.