No. 23 Wildcats commence Big 12 play against Cyclones

Senior setter Katie Brand plays the ball during the K-State volleyball match against Loyola in Ahearn Field House on Sept. 10, 2016. (File Photo by Shelton Burch | The Collegian)

The No. 23 Kansas State volleyball team is set to open the Big 12 portion of its schedule when the Wildcats host the Iowa State Cyclones inside Ahearn Field House tonight at 7.

K-State has been playing very well and is currently on a nine-game winning streak after starting the season 2-2. The Wildcats defeated UMKC, Arkansas and Southern Mississippi in Arkansas this past weekend to improve their record to 11-2.

Now starts a new portion of the year as conference play begins in what could be one of the best years in the Big 12.

“Our conference is very comparable to any conference in the country,” head coach Suzie Fritz said. “I think as you look through the course of the preseason, I think you can see that kind of develop, too. Different teams are a little bit further along and a lot of that depends on who they have coming back. At this point we have no reason to believe it won’t be a dog fight.”

One player who has played exceptionally well as of late is junior opposite hitter Bryna Vogel, who had a career-high of 21 kills in the win over Southern Mississippi this weekend. With that, Vogel won MVP of the Arkansas Invitational and was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.

Another big reason for the success of K-State in the nonconference slate was the play of senior setter Katie Brand as she leads the Big 12 with 567 assists this season.

K-State now takes on the Cyclones, who are 7-4 this season and have won five of their last seven matches.

Iowa State lost to Creighton earlier this season in four sets, but K-State defeated the Blue Jays in four sets just last week.

In the last four seasons, the Cyclones and Wildcats have split the season in each of those years. Furthermore, none of those eight matches have gone to a fifth set.

Fritz said she has seen lots of good things through the nonconference part of the season.

“We are very optimistic in a lot of areas,” Fritz said. “I think our serving has gotten better and our side out, we are delivering on lots of those.”

As the team starts to hit the long grind of Big 12 play, Fritz is ready to see what her team can do this season.

“I think we have done everything that we needed to do to be ready for conference play,” Fritz said. “We’ve played a good schedule, figured some things out and I think we are ready to go.”