2008 Kansas Volleyball Season Review

Jan. 7, 2009


Heading into the 2008 season, the Kansas volleyball team knew it wasn’t going to be an easy year. It never is in the Big 12, one of the toughest volleyball conferences in the nation.

When the 64-team bracket was announced in late November, five of KU’s opponents in 2008 earned bids to the NCAA Tournament, including four Big 12 foes, two of whom made it all the way to the final four – Nebraska and Texas.

With six returning starters from a year ago and 11 letterwinners back, Kansas kicked off the year in Richmond, Va., where it split its first two matches. The Jayhawks then finished second during its own Jayhawk Invitational, with their lone loss to then-No. 13 Oregon, an eventual NCAA Tournament participant. KU wrapped up its tournament portion of the schedule at Wyoming, again posting a 2-1 record.

After three early season tournaments, the Jayhawks took a 6-3 record into one of the toughest conferences in the country. Though Kansas struggled on the road, it earned a respectable 6-4 mark in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center to help earn its most Big 12 victories since 2005, going 7-13 during league play in 2008.

In its second Big 12 match of the season, Kansas recorded an impressive 3-2 come-from-behind victory against Iowa State on Sept. 20. Sophomore outside hitter Karina Garlington powered the Jayhawks’ comeback recording 29 kills in the effort, the most kills by a KU player since 2000.

KU then hit a rough patch in the schedule playing three straight contests against Top 25 teams in No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Texas and No. 17 Kansas State. Despite suffering losses, KU was able to extend its match against all three opponents, even picking up its first set win at Nebraska in a decade and taking K-State to five sets in front of a sellout crowd in Lawrence.

The Jayhawks bounced back with their first road win in Big 12 play at Texas Tech and later picked up a notable win over Border Showdown rival Missouri in late October. Four KU players recorded career digs in the performance as the team combined for 92 digs, just 13 shy of a Horejsi Center record.

In November, Kansas picked up a pair of sweeps over Colorado and Texas Tech for the team’s first back-to-back 3-0 wins in Big 12 play since 2004, before wrapping up their home schedule with an exciting 3-1 win over Baylor on senior night on Nov. 26.

Off the court, the Jayhawks were especially successfully. A league-leading seven KU players were named to the 2008 Academic All-Big 12 Volleyball Team, the most Jayhawks since 1997. Katie Martincich and Paige Mazour, who were two of just five Big 12 volleyball players with 4.0 GPAs, were joined on the first team by Garlington Melissa Grieb, Melissa Manda and Savannah Noyes. Natalie Uhart was named to the second team.

Accomplishments from the 2008 season:

– Kansas finished 13-16 overall, the 10th time the Jayhawks have finished with 13 or more wins under head coach Ray Bechard

– The team faced four top 25 teams and five schools who made it into the NCAA Tournament

– Two of KU’s opponents played in the NCAA Tournament semifinals (Nebraska and Texas)

– Most Big 12 victories since 2005 (7)

– Four-match home win streak is longest in conference play since the team won four straight in 2004

– First senior night victory since 2004

– Picked to finish 10th in the Big 12 by the league’s coaches, Kansas beat expectations ending the season in a tie for eighth place

– At Nebraska on Sept. 24, KU won its first set in Lincoln since 1998

– Kansas recorded back-to-back sweeps in Big 12 play for the first time since 2004

– The Jayhawks finished in the nation’s top 50 in attendance leaders averaging a 38th-best 975 fans per game at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center

– Karina Garlington earned AVCA National Player of the Week accolades on Nov. 11 after hitting a .354 clip, while averaging 5.0 kills, 1.67 digs and 5.75 points per set in two conference sweeps. She became the first Jayhawk to earn the award since Josi Lima in 2005

– Garlington notched 29 kills versus Iowa State on Sept. 20, the most by a Jayhawk since Amy Myatt had 34 on Oct. 7, 2000

– Nicole Tate was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team

– Garlington earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors on Nov. 10, while Tate took home Big 12 Rookie of the Week

– Garlington named an ESPN The Magazine Third Team Academic All District

– Garlington was named to all three tournament teams, while Natalie Uhart was named to two

– A league-leading seven Jayhawks were named to the Academic All-Big 12 team: Garlington, Melissa Grieb, Melissa Manda, Katie Martincich (4.0 GPA), Paige Mazour (4.0 GPA), Savannah Noyes and Uhart (second team)

– Noyes wrapped up her four-year career in the Crimson and Blue ranked in three top 10 record lists including career solo blocks (ninth–54), career sets played (fourth–434) and career hitting percentage (fifth–.251)

– Uhart was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 team