Kansas Prepares for Big Weekend at Notre Dame
Sept. 12, 2012
|Big 12 Notes||Weekly Release|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – With Big 12 play in sight, two-straight tournament championships in tow and a coaching milestone on the horizon, the Kansas volleyball team will head to the prestigious Notre Dame campus to cap off its pre-conference tournament schedule at the Golden Dome Invitational, Sept. 14-16.
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
All three Kansas matches over the weekend will stream live audio play-by-play on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access free of charge. Kyle West will have the call. Notre Dame will also provide a video stream of the Kansas-Notre Dame match for a fee.
Fans can always track the Jayhawks on GameTracker or by following JayhawkVball on Twitter.
The Jayhawks have history, albeit most not recent, with all three teams on the docket for the weekend. KU trails in the all-time series against Loyola-Marymount, but has only played the Lions once in school history when Kansas took a 3-0 meeting on Sept. 1, 1995.
Xavier marks KU’s most recent opponent as the Jayhawks topped the Musketeers, 3-1, during the 2009 season to tie the all-time series at a match apiece. Kansas and Notre Dame’s first – and only – meeting occurred on Sept. 19, 1986 in which KU won a back-and-forth battle, 3-2.
AT A GLANCE
-The Jayhawks are looking for their third-straight 3-0 weekend, which would result in a 12-1 record. That mark would tie the 2002 squad for the best start (12-1) and longest win streak (10) in the Ray Bechard era.
-Aside from tying the 2002 team, a 3-0 record would also hand Bechard his 950th career victory. Bechard is 231-203 in 15 seasons at Kansas and 947-263 overall.
-The first NCAA statistics were released on Monday. Junior setter Erin McNorton ranks second in the nation in assists per set (12.50). Redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc is seventh in the NCAA in attack percentage (.468), while junior libero Brianne Riley ranks 11th in the country in digs per set (5.68). All three lead the Big 12 in their respective categories.
-As a team, Kansas leads the Big 12 Conference in hitting percentage (.281), assists (14.12/set), kills (14.97/set) and digs (16.15/set).
KANSAS (9-1, 0-0 Big 12 Conference)
The Jayhawks kicked off the week with an unprecedented occasion when Jarmoc and Riley earned the Big 12’s Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors, respectively. Although it marked the third career honor for Jarmoc and the second for Riley, it was the first time KU received offensive and defensive recognition in the same week in conference history.
When asked, Bechard remarked that not only did the awards showcase the two honorees, but also credited the level at which his entire team is playing heading into the final pre-conference tournament before league play kicks off on Sept. 22. With individual Jayhawks atop the leaderboard in every major category, it comes as no surprise that Kansas sets the Big 12 standard in hitting percentage, assists, kills and digs. Although the Jayhawks jumped out to an 11-1 mark last season, heading into the fourth week of the 2011 season, KU ranked third in the league with a .258 attack percentage – flash forward to 2012 and Kansas is noticeably more accurate with its Big 12-best .281 mark.
Jarmoc’s back-to-back Tournament MVP nods and conference-leading numbers put her on the forefront of the Kansas offense, but the balance needed from the middle and pin players is there. Fellow middle blocker, senior Tayler Tolefree, is fourth in the league with a .368 attack percentage and eighth in blocks (1.21/set). Sophomore outside hitter Sara McClinton is right behind Jarmoc for the team’s lead with 3.47 kills per set, good for sixth in the conference.
The efficient offense is a direct reflection of McNorton’s work, who has taken off as the starting setter. Marissa Collins of Central Arkansas is the only setter in the country averaging more assists per set than KU’s McNorton.
LOYOLA-MARYMOUNT (6-3, 0-0 West Coast Conference) | Friday | 3:30 p.m. CT
The Lions head to Indiana after a solid weekend at the High Point Invitational last weekend. LMU knocked off host, High Point, along with George Mason after taking Virginia Tech to five sets in the weekend-opening loss. LMU was tabbed to finish sixth in the WCC Preseason Poll.
Led by third-year head coach Tom Black, the Lions are paced on offense by Georgia transfer and redshirt junior outside hitter Kathleen Luft’s 4.31 kills per set. Last year’s WCC All-Freshmen Team member Litara Keil backs her up with slightly over three kills per set. As a unit, LMU averages 14.34 kills per set using a .251 hitting percentage.
Defensively, Keil leads the team with 1.03 blocks per set, while the 2011 WCC Defensive Player of the Year, Betsi Metter, leads the back row with 5.47 digs per set.
XAVIER (7-4, 0-0 Atlantic 10 Conference) | Saturday | 9:30 a.m. CT
Like LMU, Xavier also travels to South Bend after a 2-1 weekend. At the Asics Invitational, the Musketeers topped Delaware and Columbia to rebound from an opening loss to Texas A&M. Xavier was voted to finish second in the A-10 after going 21-11 in 2011.
Led by third-year head coach Mike Johnson, Xavier averages 12.10 kills per set off of a collective .201 hitting percentage. Junior outside hitter and Atlantic 10 First Team member, Sarah Brown, holds the team lead with 3.13 kills per set. Meanwhile, redshirt junior middle blocker and fellow A-10 First Team member, Alex Smith, sets the tone with a .330 hitting percentage in her 11 starts. Senior Stephanie Vorherr, the 2011 A-10 Libero of the Year, holds down the back row with 4.86 digs per set.
NOTRE DAME (5-4, 0-0 Big East Conference) | Sunday | 12 p.m. CT
Nine matches into the 2012 campaign, Notre Dame has faced four top-20 teams, three of which were top-five opponents. In their last time out, the Fighting Irish defeated Cal Poly in three at the USC Tournament before falling to the No. 5 Trojans and taking No. 17 San Diego to five sets.
Former Olympic volleyball player Debbie Brown enters her 22nd season at the helm of the UND program. Her offense averages 13.97 kills per set on a .248 attack percentage. Sophomore right side hitter Toni Alugbue leads the Irish with 4.03 kills per set, while fellow sophomore Jeni Houser holds the team-best .370 hitting percentage.
UND is young on defense as well, with freshman Taylor Morey making all nine starts at libero. The 2010 Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year averages 4.56 digs per set.
HEAD COACH Ray Bechard
On playing three matches in three days rather than the usual two-day tournament:
“There’s a little more time to prepare for each team and a little more recovery time, so that will be good. When you get in this deep (with tournament play), the wear and tear is starting to show on teams so extra preparation and recovery time will be good – but it’s the same for everybody so there’s no advantage there. We think it will be an advantage to be more prepared for each team more than anything.”
On the tournament field:
“Well they’re all Catholic schools except us, so I’m not sure how we got invited (said smiling). Loyola (Marymount) will want to play fast, and I know that Coach (Tom) Black did some time with the USA team working on service strategies before they left for the Olympics, so I’m sure they feel well-versed in that area. They’re in every match because they don’t make a lot of mistakes. Xavier, outside of Dayton, is the top-team in the A-10. Historically, they win 20-25 matches per year. Notre Dame is always good and extremely well-coached.”
On the increased toughness of the non-conference schedule:
“Our schedule is setting up now that our next four opponents are big time. I don’t know if everyone thought that Creighton (Sept. 19) would be in that position, but they are. You’ll be able to look back once conference starts and know that we played a tough enough non-conference schedule, but we have to have success. Just playing the next four isn’t good enough. To be 9-of-10 to this point’s not bad, but the real work lies ahead right now before conference starts.”
On his 950th career victory being only three wins away:
“I just want the Jayhawks to be 12-1 when the weekend is over. I’d celebrate that more than anything else that’s going on. That’s our goal and we’ll leave the math to everyone else.”
Kansas plays host to Creighton on Wed., Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m., in the final midweek contest before Big 12 Conference action begins at Texas Tech on Sat., Sept. 22.
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