Jayhawks Picked Seventh in Big 12 Preseason Poll

Aug. 10, 2011

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas volleyball team was picked to finish seventh in the 2011 Big 12 Preseason Volleyball Poll released on Wednesday.

Selected by the league’s head coaches, the poll features two fewer teams this season after the departure of Nebraska and Colorado. Texas, who advanced to its third-straight NCAA Semifinals appearance in 2010, garnered seven of the nine first-place votes, tallying 63 points overall. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own team.

Iowa State, who received two first-place votes, along with Oklahoma tied for second with 53 votes each.

“Texas is not a surprise,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “Neither is Iowa State or Oklahoma for second. Texas A&M has many kids back, and after that you have a bunch of teams that played a lot of young players last year. Everybody is getting the sense that if one of those teams’ chemistry comes together and they start to gel, that it could be anybody in that top half. Let’s take a look at what this looks like when the season is over.”

Kansas, who moved up a spot from last year’s preseason poll, was selected to finish ahead of in-state rival Kansas State and Texas Tech in 2011. The Jayhawks finished 2010 with a 17-14 overall record and an 8-12 mark in conference action. KU chalked up wins against then-No. 10 Iowa State and Oklahoma last season, who tied for the second-place preseason selection in Wednesday’s poll.

“There are some players that were here last year that remember a lot of good victories,” Bechard said. “But, we also need to remember what kept us from getting to our ultimate goal and that was the number of overall wins.”

Bechard welcomes back 14 letterwinners from last season, nine of which will be sophomores in 2011. He recognizes the youth on his team, but is excited for the chance to combine youth and the veteran experience of the five returning starters.

The race for the top half of the league is predicted to be a tight one, as Bechard pointed out. Just 10 points separate No. 5 Missouri (32) from No. 6 Baylor (30) and No. 7 Kansas (22). Last season five Big 12 teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

“It will be a great race this year from top to bottom,” Bechard said. “I think Texas is a clear-cut favorite. I think on any given night, as the saying goes, you have a chance to be successful in this league.”

Rank Team (First-place votes) Points
1. Texas (7) 63
2. Iowa State (2) 53
Oklahoma 53
4. Texas A&M 43
5. Missouri 32
6. Baylor 30
7. Kansas 22
8. Kansas State 20
9. Texas Tech 8

The team will hold an intersquad scrimmage at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center on Aug. 20. The match is slated for 3 p.m., and will be followed by an alumni reception. All fans are encouraged to attend free of charge.

Kansas will open the 2011 campaign in Athens, Ga., against Florida A&M in the opening match of the University of Georgia Bulldog Invitational. First serve is set for Aug. 26 at 3:30 p.m. CT.

During preseason practices, Bechard and requested student-athletes will be available following the second session of practice, Wednesday and Thursday at approximately 4 p.m. After an overnight retreat, Bechard and the team will again be available after second session from Aug. 13-19.

Bechard will also participate in KU’s Olympic Sports media day on Aug. 17. Media day begins at 12 p.m. and will be held in the Allen Fieldhouse media room located in the northwest corner of Allen Fieldhouse (across from the men’s basketball lockerroom). Each coach will make opening comments before opening the floor for questions. Following the coaches, select student-athletes from each team will be available to talk with the media.