MANHATTAN, Kan. (K-State Athletics) – K-State officially opens the 50th season of Wildcat volleyball Friday at the Hotel Vance Rose City Showdown, as the Cats take on tournament host Portland State, San Diego State and Cal State Fullerton over the three-day event in Portland, Ore.
K-State will face PSU Friday at 9 p.m. CT followed by a matchup against San Diego State at 3 p.m. with San Diego State before ending the tournament Sunday at 12:30 against Cal State Fullerton.
The Wildcats are coming off a 15-14 season in which they finished sixth in the Big 12, going 6-10 in league action.
Under the new leadership of first-year head coach Jason Mansfield, the team returned three of its statistical leaders with All-Big 12 Preseason Team selection Sydney Bolding (blocks/aces), Mackenzie Morris (digs), and Loren Hinkle (assists). In total, the Cats retained 10 letterwinners from last season including 2020 Big 12 Freshman of the Year Aliyah Carter, while added four freshman and two transfers.
Friday’s match against the Vikings will air on ESPN+ and will be the only weekend match streamed. Fans can follow the action on live stats provided by the Portland State athletic communications department.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE
- K-State is set to enter its 50th season of volleyball and first under first-year head coach Jason Mansfield on Friday against Portland State at the Hotel Vance Rose City Showdown in Portland, Ore.
- Over the three-day event the Wildcats will open against tournament host Portland State followed by a matchup with San Diego State on Saturday before closing out the weekend with Cal State Fullerton on Sunday.
- K-State finished the 2022 season 15-14 overall and sixth in the Big 12 with a 6-0 league record.
- The Cats retain 10 letterwinners from last season’s roster with three starters and libero Mackenzie Morris.
- Last season’s blocks leader and All-Big 12 Second Team honoree Sydney Bolding returns to the court
- Bolding led the way with 1.32 blocks per set, individually, ranking her second in the Big 12 and 30th in the NCAA.
- Fernholz, meanwhile, averaged 1.01 blocks per set to rank ninth in the conference individually.
- Alongside Bolding on the outside, All-Big 12 Rookie Team selection Shaylee Myers enters her sophomore campaign.
- Big 12 coaches picked K-State to finish eighth in the K-State in the preseason polls with 63 total points, 18 points behind Iowa State.
SCOUTING THE FIELD
- Portland State finished its 2022 campaign 18-13 and 11-5 in Big Sky Conference matches.
- Michael Seeman enters his 17th season at the helm of the Portland State volleyball program, leading the Vikings to an overall 258-209 (.552) record.
- PSU will need to fill a big defensive hole with the loss of Ellie Snook, the all-time digs leader. Snook was the Vikings starting libero since 2018.
- Portland State returns four starters off last season’s team in addition to five letterwinners, while adding seven newcomers between four transfers and three incoming freshmen
- All-Big Sky First Team picks Makayla Lewis and Madison Friebel return for the Vikings as well as Second Team pick Sophia Meyers
- The Vikings made their first appearance in the Big Sky championship match since 2013 last season, falling 3-2 to top-seeded Northern Colorado.
- Vikings were selected to finish third in the Big Sky Preseason Coaches Poll while Northern Colorado topped the poll at No. 1
SAN DIEGO STATE
- San Diego State is coming off an 11-20 season where the Aztecs finished 8-10 in the Mountain West Conference action.
- The Aztecs return four starters as well as one of their two regular setters.
- All-Mountain West honorable mention Madison Corf returns from last season when she averaged a team-leading 2.61 kills per set on .139 hitting.
- Elly Schraeder, who ranked sixth in the Mountain West with 1.09 blocks per set last season, also makes her way back to the court for the Aztecs.
- Julie Haynie ranked third on the team with 0.50 blocks per set last season, while she led all offensive players with a .356 hitting percentage.
- The Aztecs made a run to the semifinals of the Mountain West Championship last season, upsetting third-seeded Colorado State in five sets in the quarterfinals.
- The Aztecs fell 3-1 in the conference semifinals to second-seeded San Jose State
- UNLV and Utah State tied atop the Mountain West Preseason Poll after they both made the first round of the NCAA tournament last season. SDSU was picked fourth.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
- The Cal State Fullerton Titans return three starters plus their libero from a team that went 13-15 overall and 7-13 in the Big West Conference last season.
- The Titans look to replace some key pieces from last season’s roster as 12of the team’s 18 players (eight freshmen and four transfers) look to make their debuts with the program.
- Lyla Traylor, the Titans top hitter from 2022, returns for her sophomore campaign after she averaged 2.96 kills per set on .145 hitting, while also contributing 2.88 digs per set defensively.
- The Titans lost their next two-best hitters, however, in Julia Crawford and Danielle Jefferies, who averaged 2.80 and 2.55 kills per set, as well as starting setter Elizabeth Schuster who averaged 9.19 assists.
- Additionally, only one of the six returnees has more than one year of experience with the Titans.
- Outside hitter Laura Williams, former teammate of Izzi Szulczewski at Oregon State, is one of the four transfers with the Titans and only Power 5 transfer
- Hawai’i, the three-time defending champions, topped the Big West Preseason Poll as the clear preseason favorite. The Titans were selected ninth out of the 11 teams in the league.
INSIDE THE SERIES
- Friday’s match marks the first meeting between the Wildcats and Vikings
- K-State leads 1-0 in the all-time series against San Diego State after securing a 3-1 triumph on Sept. 4, 2021
- The Wildcats are 2-1 against the Cal State Fullerton Titans since their first meeting in 1989. K-State is on a two-match win streak against the Titans, including a five-set victory in their last meeting on August 31, 2013.
A NEW HOME
- K-State proudly announced the unveiling of Morgan Family Arena for the upcoming 2023 season.
- Opening day: Sept. 1, 2023, vs. Omaha
- Morgan Family Arena will host 13 regular season games for the Wildcats along with a neutral game between Rice and LIU at the K-State Invitational
- The all-volleyball inclusive arena is the third home of Wildcat volleyball joining the Bramlage Coliseum and Ahearn Field House
- K-State is 404-208-5 all-time when playing at home
A NEW ERA
- Jason Mansfield enters his first season at the helm of the Kansas State volleyball program.
- Mansfield was appointed as the ninth head coach on Dec. 27, 2022.
- Compiled over 480 victories as an assistant coach with stints at Stanford, Illinois, and Washington
- The 2004 Stanford squad won the national championship, while the Cardinal advanced to the Final
- Four six times in 14 total NCAA Tournament appearances with Mansfield on staff.
- Joining Mansfield on the sideline in his first season are associate head coach Steve Astor, and assistant
- coaches Fiona Fonoti and John Dunn.
- Two of the Wildcats 17 players are returning to use an extra year of eligibility and are seniors again in 2023.
- AVCA All-Midwest Region middle blocker Sydney Bolding and setter standout Lauren Hinkle return to the court for their fifth seasons
- Combined the duo have competed in over 580 sets.
NEW FACES IN MHK
- Kansas State welcomed two Division I transfers with Liz Gregorski from Wisconsin and two-time All-Pac 12 honoree Izzi Szulczewski.
- Szulczewski, a junior from Beaverton, Ore., played three seasons at Oregon State
- She produced two triple-doubles with the Beavers, and a career-high 52 assists
- Szulczewski finished fifth in program history for freshman with 8.79 assists per set
- Gregorski helped Wisconsin to the 2021 national title
- The four incoming true freshmen for 2023 include Reagan Fox (Kansas), Lauren Schneider (Texas), Symone Sims (Texas) and Makinsey Jones (Kansas).
THE ROAD TO TAMPA
- The Wildcats will face a challenging 2023 schedule on their road to their first NCAA Tournament
- appearance since 2021.
- Ten of K-State’s 2023 opponents competed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament
- Four members of the Big 12 were featured in the AVCA Preseason Poll with four receiving votes.
- K-State has eight matches against nationally ranked programs from the AVCA Preseason Poll, including preseasons contests against No. 5 Nebraska and No. 23 Rice.
- K-State led off the 2022 season with a six-match win streak before finishing 15-14 with a 6-10 record in Big 12 action.
- The Wildcats were 7-5 at home and 8-9 when playing in road or neutral games.
- Shaylee Myers earned a position on the All-Big 12 Rookie Team while Sydney Bolding was tabbed an All-Big 12 Second Team honoree.
BIG 12 NEWCOMERS
- With new league alignments, the Big 12 welcomed four new members to the 2023-24 academic year.
- The Big 12 additions include UCF, Houston, Cincinnati, and BYU.
- In 2024-25, the league will add Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State to the conference
- Aliyah Carter and Sydney Bolding each represent K-State on the 2023 Preseason All-Big 12 Team
- The preseason selection marked the third for Carter as she was named a unanimous selection in 2021 and 2022.
- Sydney Bolding was the lone representative in the All-Big 12 Second team last season while Shaylee Myers was named to the All-Rookie Team
- Mackenzie Morris was tabbed the Big 12 Volleyball Scholar Athlete of the Year for her outstanding 4.0 GPA.
- Both Kadye Fernholz, Loren Hinkle and Morris earned a spot on the 2022 Academic All-Big 12 First Team while Molly Ramsey was tabbed second team.
- Morris was named a Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 29 while Myers earned Rookie of the Week recognition on Oct. 4
- Texas was voted the Big 12 volleyball favorite for a league-record 13th year in a row.
- The Longhorns have been picked atop the poll each season since 2011 and have been the unanimous choice for the past three years.
- The preseason poll is determined by Big 12 head coaches who are not allowed to rank their own team.
- BYU was picked second in its debut season in the Conference, while Baylor was selected third, marking the seventh consecutive season the Bears have been in the top three.
- TCU was tabbed fourth followed by Kansas, Houston, Iowa State, K-State, UCF, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Cincinnati, and West Virginia.
- This season’s league schedule includes each team playing 18 matches over 10 weeks with six series matches and six single matches. Each team will play every Conference opponent at least once during the season.
- The Wildcats return to the Little Apple to open the 2023 home slate with the official unveiling of the Morgan Family Arena.
- K-State will host Omaha in a non-conference matchup in the first-ever contest at Morgan Family Arena on Friday, Sept. 1 followed by the 87th meeting between the Wildcats and Nebraska Cornhuskers on Sunday, Sept. 3
- Single-match tickets are available for the match against Omaha
- Both matches will be streamed on the Big 12 Now on ESPN+