KAZAN, Russia – The Kansas State volleyball team’s time representing Team USA on the court at the World University Games came to a close on Sunday with a 1-3 loss to China. Playing as the American contingent at the Games, K-State went 1-5 overall while facing some elite talent and teams while embracing the opportunity and experience every step along the way.
“We came into this opportunity knowing that we would be over-matched in some ways, but that we wanted to be competitive, as well as learn and improve as a team,” said head coach Suzie Fritz. “I thought that we got better as we went during the competition, but was a little disappointed that we didn’t play more consistently in the China match. We didn’t manage the game at the level that we are capable of, and these are teams that you must make earn points.”
Team USA fell 20-25, 19-25, 25-22, 17-25 against China in the consolation bracket. After putting up a big block at the net throughout the World University Games, the Wildcats were only able to stuff the Chinese six times. China was unable to provide much of a blocking presence either as both teams saw strong outputs on offense.
K-State posted 51 kills with three players reaching double digits. Senior outside hitter Courtney Traxson led the way with 12 kills on her 27 swings. Junior Chelsea Keating added 11 kills, and Kaitlynn Pelger joined in on the action with 10 kills. Pelger also served well for the Wildcats, tallying three aces.
The team showed signs of improvement throughout the Games, and had the opportunity to cheer on their fellow Americans at a few other sporting events. Fritz said she and her staff were happy to see the growth of the team and how the players can use the experience to continue to push themselves.
“This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. From the perspective of a cultural and competitive experience, it was second to none. Our opportunity to be exposed to volleyball at this level, and the chance to play against players and teams that are more experienced than ourselves helped us grow up and mature as a volleyball team,” Fritz said. “Our team has now been exposed to a higher level of volleyball than they have ever known and can set higher standards for how they want to play.”
Although the team is done competing, the Wildcats still have some time in Russia. The team has plans to do some sightseeing on Monday before heading back to the States. Fritz said she is thankful for the experience she and her team had at the World University Games and knows it was a very special event for the Wildcats to participate in.
“The entire experience has been one of growth and improvement for all of us and we’re very fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the World University Games,” Fritz said.