Courtesy of K-State Athletics
MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State officially opens the 2021 volleyball season Friday at the Husker Invitational, as the Wildcats will take on Colgate, Tulsa and No. 5 Nebraska over two days at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.
K-State, who is receiving votes in the season’s initial AVCA Coaches Poll, earned a four-set victory over Kansas City last Saturday in its lone exhibition match of the preseason. In the match, Aliyah Carter logged a double-double with 15 kills and 11 digs while Kadye Fernholz and Haley Warner each turned in a dozen kills.
The Wildcats are coming off a season in which they finished third in the Big 12, going 10-6 during the fall conference slate. It marked K-State’s best league finish since the 2008 season and the team retains its leaders in kills (Carter), blocks (Fernholz), digs and aces (Mackenzie Morris). In total, 10 letterwinners return from last season while adding three freshmen a pair of transfers.
Saturday’s match will the host Cornhuskers will air on Big Ten Network with radio coverage on News Radio KMAN (93.3 FM, 1350 AM) with Rob Voelker. Friday’s match against Tulsa can also be heard on News Radio KMAN while all three matches will be streamed online K-StateSports.com/Watch.
K-STATE (0-0, 0-0 BIG 12) vs. TULSA (0-0, 0-0 AMERICAN)
Friday, August 27 // 4 p.m. // Devaney Center // Lincoln, Neb.
Radio: News Radio KMAN (93.3 FM, 1350 AM) // Rob Voelker
K-STATE (0-0, 0-0 BIG 12) at #5 NEBRASKA (0-0, 0-0 BIG TEN)
Saturday, August 28 // 4 p.m. // Devaney Center // Lincoln, Neb.
Watch: Big Ten Network | Fox Sports App
Radio: News Radio KMAN (93.3 FM, 1350 AM) // Rob Voelker
K-STATE AT A GLANCE
- K-State is set to enter its 48th season of volleyball and 21st under head coach Suzie Fritz on Friday at the Husker Invitational in Lincoln. Nebraska.
- Over two days, the Wildcats will take on Colgate and Tulsa in a Friday doubleheader before finishing the tournament with host and fifth-ranked Nebraska on Saturday.
- K-State finished third in the Big 12 a season ago, its highest conference finish since the 2008 season, to mark the 10th top-four league finish under Fritz.
- The Cats retain 10 letterwinners and four starters, including 2020 Big 12 Freshman of the Year Aliyah Carter, while adding three freshmen and two transfers.
- Carter led K-State and broke the program’s freshman record with 4.11 kills per set and 4.47 points per set.
- Mackenzie Morris, the team leader in digs and aces, and Kadye Fernholz, who led in blocks and hitting percentage, also return for 2021.
- Alongside Carter on the outside, Jayden Nembhard was an All-Big 12 Rookie Team selection as the duo combined for seven Big 12 Rookie of the Week honors.
- In K-State’s only exhibition match of the preseason, the Wildcats claimed a four-set victory over Kansas City on Saturday.
- Carter logged a double-double with 15 kills and 11 digs while Fernholz and newcomer Haley Warner each added a dozen kills.
- Warner hit .455 and added five blocks while Fernholz posted a .360 efficiency and a team-high six blocks in the win.
SCOUTING THE FIELD
- While at the season-opening Husker Invitational, K-State will take on Colgate, Tulsa and No. 5 Nebraska.
- Colgate finished 8-2 in a shortened 2020 season, including a 7-1 mark in the Patriot League and regular-season conference title.
- The Raiders fell in the championship match to Army four sets in the Patriot League Tournament.
- Colgate’s kill leader and two-time Patriot League Player of the Year Alli Lowe returns after recording 165 kills (4.34 per set) last season.
- Tulsa finished the 2020 campaign with a 2-8 record (2-8 AAC) but does return its entire starting lineup.
- The Golden Hurricane, who retain 11 of 12 letterwinners, are led by Kayley Cassaday who posted a team-best 3.20 kills per set.
- Setter Roosa Rautio handed out 9.94 assists a set a season ago while libero Hannah Overmyer averaged 5.17 digs a set.
- Nebraska, ranked fifth in the preseason coaches poll, reached the regional final in the 2020 NCAA Tournament and ended with a 16-3 overall record (14-2 Big Ten).
- Outside hitter Lexi Sun was the team leader at 3.64 kills per set to go with 26 aces and 2.20 digs per set.
- The Cornhuskers bring back their entire starting lineup while losing just four letterwinners from last season.
INSIDE THE SERIES
- K-State and Colgate will meet for the first time on Friday, while it is also the program’s first meeting with a member of the Patriot League.
- The Wildcats own a 25-2 edge in the series history with Tulsa.
- K-State and Tulsa last met in 2013, with the Cats claiming a 3-1 victory.
- The Wildcats have won the last five meetings in the series and Fritz is 2-0 against the Golden Hurricane in her career.
- Dating back to 1975, Nebraska holds an 81-4 lead in the all-time series with K-State.
- The former conference rivals last met in 2017, with the Huskers winning in straight sets.
- The previous matchup came in the 2011 NCAA Championship, as the Cats upset the second-ranked Cornhuskers in five sets on their home floor to earn a trip to the Sweet 16.
- The postseason victory is the lone K-State win over the last 16 matchups, going back to 2003.
- K-State is 3-34 all time in Lincoln while Fritz is 3-20 in her career against Nebraska.
- K-State is receiving votes in the season’s first AVCA Coaches Top-25 Poll, checking in with 13 points.
- During the fall portion of the season, the Wildcats were ranked in the AVCA Fall Coaches’ Poll for seven consecutive weeks, finishing as the 10th-ranked team.
- It was the first time K-State had been in the nation’s top 10 since the 2003 season.
- K-State cracked the poll on Oct. 7 and was ranked for seven straight weeks for the first time since 2012 (14 straight).
- Last season marked the first time the Wildcats had cracked the AVCA Coaches’ Poll since the 2016 when they went as high as No. 23 during the regular season.
- The fall poll, which only ranked the four conferences playing in the fall, ranked the top 15 teams during the fall season.
- K-State received votes in six of the eight AVCA Top-25 polls released this spring and were listed as the first team out of the 48-team 2020 NCAA Championship.
VS. RANKED OPPONENTS
- Last season, K-State finished 1-4 against ranked teams, picking up a four-set victory over No. 24 Creighton on March 20.
- The victory over the Bluejays marked the program’s first ranked win since the 2018 season.
- Nebraska enters the season as the country’s preseason No. 5 team, as the Cornhuskers are one of four Wildcat opponents to appear in the season’s first top-25 poll.
- K-State’s five-set victory over No. 2 Nebraska in 2011 marked the program’s highest ranked victory.
- The Cats have just two wins over the nation’s top-five teams in program history.
- Since 2014, K-State is 4-32 (.111) against teams ranked in the AVCA Top 25.
GOING THE DISTANCE
- In 2020, K-State went to five sets in nine of 21 matches, going 6-3 in five-setters.
- The Wildcats went 4-0 in five-set matches last season on the road and twice came back from 1-2 deficits.
- The Cats won four of their last five five-set matches and played the full five sets at least once in all but two of the fall’s two-match series.
- K-State’s six five-set wins were the highest single-season total since the 2014 season (6).
- Since 2017, K-State has played 32 five-set matches, going 15-17.
- K-State’s 23rd-ranked recruiting class in 2020 made an immediate impact on the floor, as a true freshman led the team in kills, points, digs, aces, hitting percentage and blocks.
- Carter led the way with 4.11 kills per set and 4.47 points per set, shattering the program’s freshman records in both categories.
- Fernholz totaled a team-best 68 blocks while offensively turning in a .301 hitting percentage.
- Morris, who played every set as the libero, served up 28 aces while averaging 4.02 digs per set.
- Morris led the Wildcats in digs in all 21 matches during her freshman season, becoming the first Wildcat do accomplish the feat.
- Nembhard was twice named Big 12 Rookie of the Week and logged a career-high 24 kills in a five-set win over West Virginia in her first career start.