Kansas Starts Spring With Good Showing in Colby

LAWRENCE, Kan. – A warm welcome started the weekend and solid competition ended it as the Kansas volleyball team started its spring competition season in Colby, Kan., on Saturday.

NCAA Tournament teams Kansas, Wichita State and Colorado State met in the northwest Kansas town for a full day of training in the morning followed by informal, but competitive, matches in the afternoon.

“I don’t think it could’ve gone any better,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “And, obviously, kudos to the people of Colby, Kansas that made it such a great day – from the meal that we had to the facilities they provided, all of it was great. Hopefully, this can become an annual thing. It went over extremely well and it was well-attended by the area.”

According to Bechard, each of the team’s coaches would present a drill and run it. Some drills were cooperative and others were competitive, which resulted in a high-intensity practice that saw new concepts and techniques being introduced and mastered.

“We can learn a lot from each other,” Bechard said. “Different speeds, different tempos, different styles and the more we can subject our team to different styles, the better. It was good for us.”

Although unofficial, Kansas played three sets against the Buffaloes and the Shockers, going 2-1 against both squads. All three teams took time to work with different lineups and shake things up a bit. Because of the informality of the matches, play could be stopped at any time in order to make a clear coaching point. That leads to a better understanding and sets a sound foundation for the upcoming fall season.

Along with approximately 20 high school coaches, more than 600 volleyball fans in the northwest Kansas region made it out to the community center building to watch the three teams compete in the afternoon session. Although they saw experimental lineups from all three teams, Bechard was pleased with what he saw out of his.

“Erin (McNorton) is a little dinged up right now, so it was the perfect opportunity to get Kara (Wehrs) and Maggie (Anderson) a chance to get in there and run the show,” Bechard said. “The experience for them was outstanding, and they did a great job running the offense. Then, to get Janae Hall out there in a real-live situation against somebody else was good and she responded really well. She hit for a high efficiency and was very effective.”

Bechard also was pleased with the Jayhawks’ passing and defensive transitions. Added to the shift in setters and a breakout performance of sorts for Hall, the 15-year coaching veteran also saw good things out of his returning players.

“We continued to allow people like Marianne Beal, Tiana Dockery, Chelsea Albers, Amy Wehrs and all of those folks that have a certain role in the fall to see an expanded role over the weekend, so that was great.”

The Jayhawks will stay home this weekend and welcome the Heart of America Havoc, the professional team in Kansas City, to Horejsi Family Athletics Center on Saturday.

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