Kansas Returns Home to Host No. 16 Iowa State
Sept. 26, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. –After a seven-match road trip that concluded with a Big 12 Conference opener against preseason favorite Texas, the University of Kansas volleyball team returns home to face the second-place selection, No. 16 Iowa State, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
The last time the Jayhawks took to their home floor at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, the Kansas football team had yet to play a down of the 2011 season. In the Jayhawks’ first 13 matches, only three of them have been at home.
“This has been the longest we’ve been away from home in quite a while, but that’s just the way the scheduling worked out,” head coach Ray Bechardsaid. “You learn a lot about your team on the road. I know as a staff and as a team, we’re excited to get back on the home floor in the environment we train in everyday.”
Both teams enter KU’s first midweek matchup of the season with 11-2 overall records, but nationally ranked Iowa State brings the league’s only 2-0 record. Kansas is hunting for its first conference win after falling to the Big 12’s pick to win the league, No. 8 Texas. The Cyclones were voted to finish second.
“We’re going to play them twice at some point in the year,” Bechard said. “The fact that they come back-to-back presents certain challenges, but it also gives you a pretty quick indicator of where you’re at in your own situation. There are some things we fell short of on Saturday and we’ll try to respond to and do better on Wednesday.”
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
Wednesday marks the first of four matches that will be televised by Metro Sports this season (Knology, channel 37). Brenda VanLengen and former Jayhawk volleyball player, Jill (Dorsey) Hall, will be on the call.
The match will also be webcast live on Jayhawk All-Access (kuathletics.com/AllAccess), with Kyle West calling the game. Fans can also keep up with the Hawks on GameTracker or by following JayhawkVball on Twitter.
KANSAS (11-2 Overall, 0-1 Big 12)
Kansas received 61 votes in the AVCA Division I Coaches poll that was released on Monday – up from 60 votes in last week’s poll. The only other team receiving votes ahead of Kansas without breaking into the top 25 is Long Beach State, who leads by just two votes (63).
Sprinting out to an 11-1 start, the program’s best since the 2002 season, Kansas won three of four pre-conference tournament titles and defeated then-No. 6 Minnesota before opening conference play at Texas. The four-time Big 12 champion defeated Kansas, 3-0, to hand the Jayhawks their second loss of the season – the first by a sweep. Heading into the Texas match last weekend, UT middle blocker Rachael Adams came in as the top blocker in the conference, while KU middle blocker Caroline Jarmoccame in at No. 2. Jarmoc finished the match with four blocks to Adams’ three, but the Longhorns edged the Jayhawks as a team, 8-7.
On Wednesday, Jarmoc will match up with Iowa State’s Tenisha Matlock, who leads the league in conference-only matches with 1.67 bps. Jarmoc ranks second in the Big 12 in conference-only matches (1.33 bps).
In the most recent NCAA stats rankings (9/26), Kansas checked in at No. 16 in the country in blocks per set as a team (2.81). That ranks third in the Big 12 behind Texas Tech (3.04) and Texas (2.91). Two Jayhawk middle blockers rank in the NCAA’s top 50 in the latest stat rankings. Jarmoc ranks 23rd in the NCAA with 1.32 blocks per set, while junior Tayler Tolefreeis ranked 47th (1.23 bps).
Offensively, senior outside hitter Allison Mayfieldcontinues to be on point for the Jayhawks. She put up a solid effort at Texas to get out to a strong conference start. She ranks second in the Big 12 in kills, averaging 4.36 kills per set heading into Wednesday – good for 23rd in the NCAA.
No. 16 IOWA STATE (11-2 Overall, 2-0 Big 12)
Iowa State rushed out to a 9-0 start, including a five-set victory against a Top-10 Florida team. The Cyclones’ only losses of the season came in back-to-back matches at the hands of Top-15 opponents, then-No. 15 Northern Iowa and then-No. 10 Nebraska. ISU has yet to drop a set in Big 12 action, sweeping Missouri and Texas Tech last week.
“They play at a high level, they play fast with a really unique combination of offense and defense,” Bechard explained. “They’re a well-coached group that knows what its limits are and what they do well and try to accentuate that. They got a great win for our conference when they beat Florida and they play a very competitive schedule. I’m sure they’re excited about getting off to a 2-0 start.”
The Cyclones hit a season-high .402 when they swept Missouri 3-0 in ISU’s Big 12 opener. The win also tied head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch with Vicki Mealer for most volleyball coaching wins in school history with 135, a record she broke with a victory against Texas Tech on Saturday.
Senior outside hitter Carly Jenson led the Cyclones against Missouri with a double-double consisting of 13 kills and 11 digs and redshirt freshman Hannah Willms posted 11 kills at a career-best .308 hitting percentage. Jenson paces the Cyclone offense with 3.89 kills per set, only two spots behind Mayfield in the conference rankings.
On Saturday, Jenson and Willms were at it again as they helped the Cyclones beat the Red Raiders, who began the conference season at the top of the standings. Jenson led all scorers with 16 kills and five blocks, while Willms followed that effort with 10 kills and two blocks. For her performance, Willms was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Monday.
The Jayhawks’ homestand is a short one as they travel to Waco on Saturday, Oct. 1, for a 7 p.m. meeting with the Baylor Bears.