K-State volleyball reveals schedule for 2021 season

The K-State volleyball team celebrates a win during the March 14, 2021 game against Saint Louis University. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

The Wildcats are back in Bramlage Coliseum this season after moving to Ahearn Field House in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions returning with 11 home games in Manhattan.

“We’re really looking forward to getting back to normal this year,” head coach Suzie Fritz said in a K-State Athletics press release about the upcoming season. “The Big 12 presents a tough challenge every year, being one of the premier volleyball leagues in the country. But, in addition to that, I think our non-conference schedule will really help strengthen our NCAA tournament résumé.”

Fritz is now entering her 21st season as Kansas State head coach and previewed what to expect for this upcoming season.

“With so many different scheduling restrictions and protocols in place, last season was particularly difficult to navigate in terms of scheduling opponents,” Fritz said. “This season, we will face six teams, and five of them away from home, that qualified for a reduced postseason last year. We are excited for the challenge and ready to get back onto the court.”

Athletics Director Gene Taylor gave a positive message in the press release about the excitement of getting back to live sporting events in Bramlage Coliseum.

“Due to COVID-19 restrictions last season, we relocated our volleyball matches to Bramlage and realized additional benefits for both our student athletes and fans,” Taylor said. “Providing a first-class experience for all of our fans and teams remains a priority, and we feel like playing volleyball matches in Bramlage Coliseum for the next two seasons is the best decision as we transition to the new volleyball facility. Ahearn Field House has long been a part of our volleyball history and always will be, but we are excited about the future as we work toward construction of a first-class new venue.”

The 2021 season will include postseason qualifiers Baylor, Missouri, Nebraska, Pepperdine, Texas and Weber State. Texas was a national finalist in this past year’s tournament, while Nebraska reached the elite eight. Baylor advanced to the sweet 16 while Missouri, Pepperdine and Weber State all reached the round of 32.

K-State’s season officially begins on Saturday, Aug. 27 at the Nebraska Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska, where K-State will face Colgate and Tulsa in the two-day tournament.

The Wildcats will then travel to Santa Barbara, California, to face off in the Gaucho Invitational on Sept. 3-4. K-State will face Pepperdine, San Diego State and UC Santa Barbara.

K-State then returns home for the K-State Invitational beginning Sept. 9, taking on Ohio at 7 p.m. to start the three-day event.

The team will stop in Missouri on Sept. 14 before rounding out its non-conference schedule at the Omaha Invitational on Sept.17-18. K-State will face Omaha and Weber State before starting conference play.

K-State’s conference opener comes against Baylor on Friday, Sept. 24-25.

Along with Baylor, K-State’s home schedule will include West Virginia (October 14-15), Texas Tech (October 28-29) and Kansas (November 26-27). All home games will start at 6:30 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum.

K-State’s road schedule consists of trips to Oklahoma (October 1-2), TCU (October 21-22), Iowa State (November 11-13) and Texas (November 19-20).

Ten letter-winners return to this year’s squad, including 2020 Big 12 and AVCA Midwest Region Freshman of the Year Aliyah Carter.

Other returning Wildcats include Teana Adams-Kaonohi, Holly Bonde, Loren Hinkle, Kadye Fernholz, Mackenzie Morris, Jayden Nembhard and Jacque Smith.

K-State finished this past season 13-8 (10-6 in Big 12 play) and finished third in the Big 12 — the team’s highest conference finish since 2008.

Season tickets for the 2021 season are on sale Monday, June 21. Details for the broadcast schedule will be announced at a later date.