New Conference Foes Highlight 2012 Volleyball Schedule

May 18, 2012

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Upon the addition of West Virginia and TCU to the Big 12 Conference next year, the Kansas volleyball team will make two new trips as well as host 17 home matches to highlight the 2012 schedule.

Kansas finished the 2011 season 15-14, KU’s third-straight season with a winning record. The Jayhawks kicked off the year with three pre-conference tournament titles en route to an 11-1 start, the best since the 2002 season. That included defeating the highest-ranked opponent in program history, No. 6 Minnesota, at the Northern Iowa Invitational. KU has defeated at least one top-25 opponent in four of the last five seasons.

“Last year doesn’t equal this year and we know there are some teams that will have a little different look to them that will present some challenges to us,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “You take the schedule and you can’t look too far ahead or too far behind you, you just have to look forward to each and every opportunity that you have in front of you and that’s what we’ll do.”

This fall, Bechard and staff put together another solid slate of competition that includes 11 matches against teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament last year. Aside from the familiar Big 12 powerhouses, Kansas will make its first trips to Morgantown, West Virginia and Fort Worth, Texas as conference visits. KU heads to WVU for an Oct. 3 meeting with the Mountaineers and will be at TCU on Nov. 17.

“We’re thrilled with the addition of TCU and West Virginia,” Bechard said. “I know both of their staffs well and they’re excited about joining our league. Obviously, it adds a new region to our conference. We haven’t had a lot of exposure to that part of the country, so we’re excited about the trip. The Dallas area with TCU is an area that we’ve made some trips to, with Baylor being close, but it’ll still be new to us. So we will be ready to welcome those two teams to Lawrence and also look forward to the trips we’ll make to their campuses.”

The Jayhawks’ 17 home matches mark the second-most in the Bechard era. Entering his 15th year at the helm, Bechard and the Jayhawks surpassed the 2012 home schedule only once, when the team played 18 times at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center in 2010.

“Not only do we have two tournaments at home, but we also have UMKC, Creighton and Saint Louis coming in for non-conference,” Bechard said. “This is the most, or close to it, home matches we’ve had since I’ve been here and the quality of opponents we are bringing in here will provide great opportunities for our team.”

Kansas, who posted an average attendance of 988 in 2011, will host nine non-conference opponents this fall, beginning with Sam Houston State on Aug. 31 on day one of the Kansas Volleyball Invitational.

The Big 12 additions aren’t the only new faces the Jayhawks will encounter this fall as KU will take on four teams for the first time and seven teams they haven’t seen in more than 10 years. Kansas will open its season at the Arkansas Tournament, Aug. 24-25. There, the Jayhawks will kick off 2012 against Northwestern State on Friday and face UT-Martin in the first match the following day, KU’s first meeting with both schools. The Jayhawks will close the debut weekend against tournament-host Arkansas.

The team will return home to host the Kansas Volleyball Invitational (Aug. 31-Sept. 1) and the Jayhawk Invitational (Sept. 7-8) in back-to-back weekends with a midweek meeting with UMKC on Sept. 4. During its home tournament span, KU will welcome Sam Houston State, Arkansas State, College of Charleston as well as Wyoming, Arizona State and Tulsa – an NCAA Tournament team that finished the season receiving votes on the AVCA Coaches poll.

In its last weekend of non-conference action, KU will travel to South Bend, Ind., for its first meeting with Notre Dame since Sept. 19, 1986. The Fighting Irish will also bring Loyola Marymount and Atlantic-10 foe, Xavier, into KU’s last pre-conference tournament.

“There is some name recognition with Arizona State, Wyoming, Tulsa and some of those teams,” Bechard said. “But also when you look at our non-BCS opponents such as Sam Houston State, it’s been a very successful program; College of Charleston won 25-plus matches last year and Arkansas State is a perennial 20-plus wins per year team. Sometimes you have to look past if it’s a BCS school or not because there’s a lot of great volleyball at a lot of different level. We’ll be challenged every time out.”

In 2011, a league-record eight of the nine Big 12 teams finished in the top 50, to propel the Big 12 to first overall in the final conference NCAA RPI rankings – a first in conference history. Even with the departure of Texas A&M and Missouri, the Big 12 has lost no strength. Per the usual, every team will follow the home-and-home format as each school will face each other twice for a total of 16 conference matches.

“We’re not changing how we approach our schedule, but certainly we know that our conference has significance,” Bechard said. “We need to look at each match as an opportunity to build a healthy resume as we go through the season. First thing for us is looking at how we can be successful at the Arkansas Tournament and build on that each and every week as we move through difference phases of our schedule.”

The Jayhawks will open and close their Big 12 slate with the Texas Tech Red Raiders. KU will head to Lubbock, Texas on Sept. 22 for a Saturday meeting and host the Red Raiders on Senior Day, Nov. 24. After opening at TTU, Kansas will host Iowa State in a Wednesday night match on Sept. 26. The Cyclones advanced to the Elite Eight in last year’s NCAA Tournament and ranked No. 8 in the final AVCA Coaches poll.

From there, KU will make its first trip to West Virginia on Oct. 3 before squaring off against four-straight postseason teams in Baylor, at Oklahoma, at Texas and home against Kansas State. The Longhorns were the No. 1 overall seed in last year’s tournament and finished No. 4 in the final AVCA Coaches poll. Kansas State advanced to the Sweet 16 a year ago and finished ranked No. 22. The Jayhawks will host their in-state rival on Oct. 17.

KU’s trip to Ames, Iowa on Oct. 24 is sandwiched between hosting newcomers TCU (Oct. 20) and West Virginia (Oct. 29) before rattling off another stretch against Baylor, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma. The Jayhawks will wrap up their trips in Fort Worth, Texas against TCU before closing the regular season at home against Saint Louis (Nov. 21) and Texas Tech (Nov. 24).

“You have a two stretches there against Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma and K-State, who all made the NCAA Tournament last year; then there’s TCU who was another 25-win team and then Iowa State was an Elite Eight team last year,” Bechard said. “That’s our league though, that’s been the expectation of our conference for quite some time to see those teams in succession. We need to be one of those teams, a team that is prepared to play at that level each and every night.”

2012 Kansas Volleyball Schedule
Date Opponent Location Time
Arkansas Tournament
Aug. 24 vs. Northwestern State Fayetteville, Ark. 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 25 vs. Tenn.-Martin Fayetteville, Ark. 1:30 p.m.
Aug. 25 at Arkansas Fayetteville, Ark. 7 p.m.
Kansas Volleyball Invitational
Aug. 31 Neb.-Omaha vs. Arkansas State Lawrence, Kan. 9 a.m.
Aug. 31 Sam Houston State Lawrence, Kan. 11:30 a.m.
Aug. 31 Tulsa vs. Arkansas State Lawrence, Kan. 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 31 Tulsa Lawrence, Kan. 7 p.m.
Sept. 1 Arkansas State vs. Sam Houston State Lawrence, Kan. 9 a.m.
Sept. 1 Tulsa vs. Neb.-Omaha Lawrence, Kan. 11:30 a.m.
Sept. 1 Arkansas State Lawrence, Kan. 7 p.m.
Sept. 4 UMKC Lawrence, Kan. TBA
Jayhawk Invitational
Sept. 7 Wyoming vs. Arizona State Lawrence, Kan. 9:30 a.m.
Sept. 7 College of Charleston Lawrence, Kan. 11:30 a.m.
Sept. 7 College of Charleston vs. Wyoming Lawrence, Kan. 5:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 Arizona State Lawrence, Kan. 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 8 Arizona State vs. College of Charleston Lawrence, Kan. Noon
Sept. 8 Wyoming Lawrence, Kan. TBA
Notre Dame Tournament
Sept. 14 vs. Loyola-Marymount South Bend, Ind. 5 p.m.
Sept. 15 vs. Xavier South Bend, Ind. 10:30 a.m.
Sept. 16 at Notre Dame South Bend, Ind. 1 p.m.
Sept. 19 Creighton Lawrence, Kan. 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Texas Tech* Lubbock, Texas TBA
Sept. 26 Iowa State* Lawrence, Kan. 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 3 at West Virginia* Morgantown, W.Va. TBA
Oct. 6 Baylor* Lawrence, Kan. 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 10 at Oklahoma* Norman, Okla. TBA
Oct. 12 at Texas* Austin, Texas TBA
Oct. 17 Kansas State* Lawrence, Kan. 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 20 TCU* Lawrence, Kan. 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 24 at Iowa State* Ames, Iowa TBA
Oct. 29 West Virginia* Lawrence, Kan. 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 3 at Baylor* Waco, Texas TBA
Nov. 7 at Kansas State* Manhattan, Kan. TBA
Nov. 10 Texas* Lawrence, Kan. 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 14 Oklahoma* Lawrence, Kan. 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 17 at TCU* Fort Worth, Texas TBA
Nov. 21 Saint Louis Lawrence, Kan. 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 24 Texas Tech* Lawrence, Kan. 1 p.m.