This season is the start of what will be a very different lineup for the 2017 Kansas State volleyball team after the Wildcats lost five seniors last season.
“We will be relying on our junior class a lot this season,” Suzie Fritz, head volleyball coach, said. “We will lean on them to provide some more experience for this team.”
K-State is bringing back one senior this year, Bryna Vogel, who averaged 2.75 kills per set last season, amounting to 324 kills total for the year.
“When you talk about experience and you only have one senior, I have a hard time putting those two things together,” Fritz explained. “I’d rather take all experience than newcomers, but you don’t usually get it that way.”
Although it is a young group, Fritz said they are learning very fast.
“You don’t know how quickly they will pick some things up, but this group really has,” Fritz said. “I’ve been very impressed so far.”
Vogel had labrum surgery on her hitting arm right after the end of the season last year. It is not an easy recovery, but she has come very far in a short amount of time, Fritz said.
“The fact that she’s out here doing what she’s doing speaks volumes,” Fritz said. “She is an incredible person, and there are lots of question marks coming off that surgery, but she’s doing great.”
Fritz also said that anything that Vogel wants to be good at, she is.
“If you need your television fixed, call her and then she can make dinner,” Fritz said. “Maybe after that she can beat you in ping pong. She’s just good at whatever she puts her mind to.”
A young team brings uncertainty to many positions, which means lots of competition for spots in practices.
“This has brought a nice competitive daily situation right now,” Fritz said. “We will know better in the coming days of where people are playing and can start penciling those things in.”
Some of the key returners for the Wildcats are juniors Kylee Zumach, Alyssa Schultejans, Macy Flowers and Zsofia Gyimes.
“Some of these girls are on our leadership advisory council and have been filling in some of our seniors from last year’s shoes,” Fritz said. “[Zumach] is coming off her second season since her injury, and she’ll be able to give it everything this year. She is a much better player right now than she was last year just because she’s had more time to recover.”
The Wildcats will open the 2017 season this weekend when they take on Pacific University, the University of Idaho and Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.