An athletic career change brought sophomore volleyball star to K-State

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During the game on Oct. 10, 2018, against the Iowa State Cyclones, K-State opposite Gloria Mutiri spikes the ball over the net for one of her 16 total kills. (Alex Todd | Collegian Media Group)

Most college athletes start their athletic careers at a young age, getting put into youth leagues for their sport the first year they have the opportunity. For many, it can take years to build their skills and become successful athletes in their preferred sport. This wasn’t the case for Gloria Mutiri, sophomore opposite on the volleyball team.

Mutiri, one of the top players on the team, played basketball before picking up volleyball her freshman year of high school.

“Playing basketball was very serious, like I wanted to go take my career with that,” Mutiri said. “Volleyball was the fun, cool sport and I didn’t think it was that complicated. So it was like, ‘Oh, I’m just doing this for fun’, and then it became something I really liked.”

While playing high school volleyball just for fun Mutiri managed to earn second team Under Armour All-America honors and a spot on the Oklahoma Coaches Association’s all-state roster. The Tulsa World branded her as the volleyball player of the year multiple times.

Kansas State wasn’t initially on Mutiri’s radar when she began looking at colleges. She originally wanted to continue her basketball career.

“It was a really hard decision, because I really liked basketball,” Mutiri said. “I had the option to go play it at some schools. In the end it came down to just who I am. Volleyball is really the only sport to me that you can show off your personality and be who you are.”

Even with her decision to play volleyball, she originally hadn’t planned to attend K-State — Mutiri’s first commitment was to Ohio State. But then decided de-commit from being a Buckeye.

“My visit was so great and I didn’t forget it, so it didn’t matter if I was close to home or far away from home, I just wanted to play here,” Mutiri said.

Mutiri played in all 98 sets in her first year on the court as a Wildcat. She also garnered multiple accolades including American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America honorable mention, AVCA Midwest Freshman of the Year, AVCA All-Midwest Region First Team, All-Big 12 Second Team and All-Big 12 Rookie Team.

Mutiri is the second Wildcat ever to earn All-America honors as a freshman.

“I don’t think we were surprised that she had opportunities as a young player, I think that’s what we expected her to do, to come in and make some noise,” head coach Suzie Fritz said. “That’s exactly what she did. If you come in and you’re good early, the challenge is then where do you go from there and I think that’s what she’s figuring out.”

Her early success and consistent performances makes her a team leader.

“Gloria is just so much fun, she has a lot of positive energy and I really just appreciate the vibe that she brings to the court,” redshirt sophomore outside hitter Brynn Carlson said. “She’s always having a good time, always bringing a light and fun energy. I think that’s really important, especially in situations when matches get tight and sometimes there can be stress on the court, she really helps to alleviate and keeps things fun.”

Mutiri said she plans to play volleyball as much as she can before her body won’t allow it anymore, dreaming of playing volleyball professionally after her time at K-State comes to a close.

As a broadcast journalism major, Mutiri would love nothing more than to commentate for the sport that has given her so much in such a short time in her life.

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