KU Opens Season at Alabama Invitational

Aug. 23, 2006

LAWRENCE, Kan. –

Kansas volleyball opens its 32nd season of competition and begins its quest for a fourth-straight postseason appearance this week at the Crimson Tide/Academy Sports Invitational in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Jayhawks will face Alabama A&M Friday at 4:30 p.m., Miami (FL) at 11 a.m. and host Alabama at 7 p.m. on Saturday. A Livestats link, recap and box score will be posted on KUathletics.com for each match.

The Tournament Field
The Jayhawks open regular-season play Friday against defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Alabama A&M. The Bulldogs finished the 2005 season 15-12 (8-1 SWAC) and made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Key returners include sophomores Brittani Lewis (6-0 outside hitter) and Kara Jerden (5-8 setter).

KU faces Miami (FL) Saturday morning at the CAVE (Coleman Auxiliary Volleyball Extension). The Hurricanes posted a 16-14 record in 2005, including an 11-11 (sixth place) finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Miami returns six starters and a handful of veterans including senior middle blocker Francheska Savage, senior setter Jill Robinson and junior middle blocker Ciara Michel.

Highlighting the 2006 Academy Sports/Crimson Tide Invitational is a Saturday night match up with Alabama. Coming off a 23-11 record (9-7 Southeastern Conference) and appearance in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, the Crimson Tide will look to avenge a 3-0 loss to the Jayhawks a year ago. KU swept `Bama at home on Aug. 26, but UA returns five starters in 2006 including juniors Bridget Fuentez (5-11 outside hitter) and Crystal Hudson (5-11 middle blocker).

Kansas vs. …
…Alabama A&M — first meeting between the schools in volleyball.
…Miami — first meeting between the schools in volleyball.
…Alabama — KU leads the all-time series, 2-1. The Jayhawks defeated `Bama, 3-0, on Aug. 26, 2005, and 3-2 on Sept. 6, 1996. UA’s win over KU came on Oct. 20, 1978 (3-0).

Uhart Sidelined By Injury
Due to an injury, Jayhawk middle blocker Natalie Uhart will be sidelined until further notice, head coach Ray Bechard announced Monday. Uhart (Lansing, Kan.), a junior transfer, suffered a knee injury Aug. 19 in a preseason scrimmage. Uhart, voted the 2006 Big 12 Conference Preseason Newcomer of the Year, was recently granted an additional year of eligibility by the Big West Conference after a 2005 medical hardship season at Long Beach State.

Record Chasers
With the departure of 2005 senior record-breakers Josi Lima and Andi Rozum, a duo of Jayhawks will look to take their turns climbing the career and single-season lists in 2006. Despite having two of her seasons cut short by injuries, senior outside hitter Jana Correa ranks fifth on the KU career attack percentage list with a .253 hitting efficiency and sixth in aces per game (0.33). She also ranks fourth among all hitters with 3.88 kills per game for her career. After a stellar sophomore season, junior Emily Brown ranks in the top 10 in single-season aces (44), aces per game (0.40) and solo blocks (29).

Bechard Just 13 Wins Away From KU Milestone
KU head coach Ray Bechard is just 13 wins away from becoming the winningest volleyball coach in KU history. Frankie Albitz, head coach of the Jayhawks from 1985-93, finished her career with a 150-141 (.515) record in nine seasons at KU. Bechard (Grinnell, Kan.) is 138-108 in his ninth season at KU and carries a career coaching record of 854-168 over 22 seasons. He led the Jayhawks to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2003 and earned postseason bids in 2004 and 2005. Bechard is assisted by Jill Jones Stucky (Goodland, Kan.), who is in her ninth season at KU, and Christi Posey (Wichita, Kan.), who has been coaching the Jayhawks for seven seasons.

Match Notes in PDF Format
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