Kansas Picked Sixth in Big 12 Preseason Volleyball Poll

Aug. 8, 2012

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas was selected to finish sixth in the Big 12 Conference Preseason Volleyball Poll, released Wednesday afternoon by the league office, marking the Jayhawks’ highest preseason rank since the 2005 season.

Voted on by the league’s head coaches, who are not permitted to vote for their own team, reigning Big 12 champion Texas was unanimously selected as the 2012 preseason favorite. Texas, who advanced to its sixth-straight NCAA Regional Semifinal appearance in 2011, tallied 64 points in the poll. Iowa State earned the No. 2 spot (54 points) with Kansas State tabbed third, just one point behind the Cyclones. Oklahoma ranked fourth, while Baylor placed fifth, matching its highest preseason ranking (2009).

Kansas followed with 30 points, garnering its highest preseason finish since the Jayhawks were picked fifth in 2005. TCU, a winner of 25 matches in 2011, was slated seventh, while Texas Tech and West Virginia took the eighth and ninth preseason spots, respectively.

“Obviously, we’d like to improve on the poll in how we finish up,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “I think 1-9 in our conference is a tough league. We’ve got a team (in Texas) that feels like they can go out and compete for a National Championship and a whole league of teams that feel they are NCAA Tournament-caliber teams. Now we’ve got to go out and prove it.”

The Jayhawks return five starters and the libero from the team that went 15-14 a year ago. KU narrowly missed an NCAA Tournament bid, closing out the year at No. 47 in the NCAA’s RPI.

In 2011, the Big 12 was ranked No. 1 in conference RPI for the first time in history with 8-of-9 league schools listed in the top-50. Kansas finished eighth in the standings with a 3-13 conference record. In 16 conference matches, however, KU played 64 sets, taking at least one set from every Big 12 foe minus Iowa State, who advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight. Ultimately, Kansas won 22 sets against Big 12 foes and lost 16 by three points or less.

This season, Kansas returns All-Big 12 Preseason Team member Caroline Jarmoc, a redshirt junior that finished second in the league in blocking at the conclusion of the 2011 season (1.25 blocks per set), trailing only Sallie McLaurin of Oklahoma – another 2012 preseason team member.

Additionally, the Jayhawks bring back senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree and junior libero Brianne Riley, who ranked in the top-five in the Big 12 in blocks per set and digs per set, respectively. Junior Kara Wehrs will also reprise her role as the floor general. The setter started 19 matches last year and ranked ninth in the league in assist per set average.

Rank Team (First-place Votes/Points)
1. Texas (8/64)
2. Iowa State (1/54)
3. Kansas State (53)
4. Oklahoma (40)
5. Baylor (36)
6. Kansas (30)
7. TCU (22)
8. Texas Tech (17)
9. West Virginia (8)

Up Next
The Jayhawks will host their annual Crimson and Blue Match on Saturday, Aug. 18 at 1 p.m. at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. Fans are invited to attend free of charge. Kansas officially opens the season on Friday, Aug. 24 against Northwestern State at 4:30 p.m. in the first match of the Arkansas Tournament in Fayetteville, Ark.