This Week in History (2003): Wildcat volleyball plays its way to hardware

Then-freshman hitter Jayden Nembhard passes the ball during the March 14, 2021 volleyball game against Saint Louis University. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

This week in Kansas State sports history, the 2003 Wildcat volleyball team visited the Florida State Invitational after an 0-2 start to the season, losing to the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine and the Florida Gators.

After going winless in week one of the season, K-State played with a chip on their shoulder in Tallahassee, Florida. They went 3-0 at Florida State, beating the Seminoles, the Michigan Wolverines and the Florida Atlantic Owls.

The team, led by senior Lauren Goehring and junior Gabby Guerre, continued to win, leading to K-State’s first-ever Big 12 championship title in volleyball.

Lauren Goehring, middle blocker, reached the top 10 in three different categories: career kills (eighth, 1,212 total kills), hitting percentage (first, 0.354) and blocks (third, 429). The elite numbers were because of Goehring’s 2001 and 2003 campaigns, when she joined the Triple-Triple Club with 223 kills, 256 digs and 109 blocks in 2001 and with 403 kills, 160 digs and 135 blocks in 2003.  Her efforts earned her an American Volleyball Coaches Association First Team All-American nomination along with Big 12 Player of the Year honors in 2003.

Guerre, setter, also joined a separate list of K-State volleyball players in the Double-Grand Club with 1,013 digs and 4,943 assists. Guerre is the second player in K-State history to achieve a quadruple-triple in a season with 221 kills, 294 digs, 1,517 assists and 110 blocks.

The Wildcats’ opening two losses of the season would be two of five losses throughout the season. They responded to those two losses by winning 12 consecutive matches until their next loss.

The greatest challenge the 2003 Wildcats met was against Big 10 opponent Penn State in the NCAA Tournament, where they faced off in the Sweet 16. The competition ultimately ended K-State’s campaign, losing three sets to one.

The 2003 season was one for the history books for Head Coach Susie Fritz, who remains the head coach for the Wildcats. The 30-5 record would go down as the best record in K-State volleyball since 1979, with coach Ron Spies.