No. 24 Kansas Back Home for Baylor
Oct. 4, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A national ranking, a top-10 RPI projection and a program-best start to conference play are merely steps in the process according to head coach Ray Bechard and the Kansas volleyball team as the Jayhawks prepare to host Baylor at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, Saturday at 6 p.m.
AROUND THE GYM
-Kansas Volleyball Camper Reunion Night: Each camper gets in free with a camp t-shirt.
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
As with all home matches, Saturday’s will stream live – video and audio – on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access. The live audio stream will be available free of charge, while the audio and video combination requires a subscription fee. Kyle West will call the action. Fans can always track the Jayhawks on GameTracker or by following JayhawkVball on Twitter.
Baylor holds a 21-14 all-time record against Kansas in a series that dates back to 1985. An evenly matched duo, the Jayhawks and Bears have split the season series for the last four years. In the last match of the season last year, KU defeated Baylor, holding the Bears to a single digit in the fourth and final set. Baylor went on to earn an NCAA Tournament bid.
AT A GLANCE
-Kansas’ 9-0 home win streak currently ties a program record. A win on Saturday would give KU its longest home win streak in Kansas volleyball history (10).
-Volleyball was the first Kansas team to make the trek to Morgantown, W. Va., and left with a victory, giving the Jayhawks their first 3-0 start in conference play in Big 12 or Big Eight history. Just as it was this season with No. 19 Iowa State, the Jayhawks have faced at least one nationally-ranked team in the first three conference matches in consecutive seasons dating back to 1996.
-In their last time out, the Jayhawks suffered a rare first-set loss at West Virginia. KU has won the opening set 15 of 17 times this season, and in both of those occurrences (Arizona State, at West Virginia), the Jayhawks came back to win the match.
-Kansas debuted at No. 24 on the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I Coaches Poll, released on Oct. 1. For the first time this year, four Big 12 teams are nationally ranked (No. 9 Texas, No. 14 Kansas State, No. 22 Iowa State, No. 24 Kansas).
-The NCAA released the first RPI projections of the season on Oct. 1, where Kansas came in at No. 9 – the highest RPI mark in program history. In 2012, Kansas is 4-2 against top-50 RPI teams and 7-2 against the top-100 with the Jayhawks’ only losses coming at the hands of Arkansas (No. 16) and Notre Dame (No. 50).
-Kansas’ win at West Virginia marked only the fourth time in program history that the Jayhawks recorded their 15th win of the season this early in October. Only the 1991 team (Sept. 22) won 15 matches prior to the start of October, while the 1986 and 1992 squads also chalked up win No. 15 on Oct. 3.
– In the NCAA national statistics (Oct. 1), junior setter Erin McNorton ranks fifth in the country in assists per set (12.06), redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc checks in at 27th in attack percentage (.403) and 17th in blocks per set (1.43), while junior libero Brianne Riley is 26th in the NCAA in digs per set (5.31).
-As a unit, Kansas continues to lead the Big 12 in the big three: kills (14.40 per set), digs (16.02) and is tied for the lead in assists (13.55 per set) for the first time this season (Kansas State).
NO. 24 KANSAS (15-2, 3-0 Big 12)
In its inaugural set at West Virginia, Kansas was nearly unrecognizable, registering an .000 attack percentage – a rarity for an offense that ranks third in the Big 12 in attack percentage (.255) and leads the league in kills per set (14.40). The result was 25-15 first-set loss, just the second time this season KU dropped the opening frame.
The deficit, however, just added to another element to the Kansas resume this season as the Jayhawks responded with a vengeance. After collecting a mere nine kills in the first set, the Kansas offense erupted for 44 over the next three, using red-hot efficiency in the second (.379) and third (.452) sets to claim the lead, and eventually, the victory.
The program’s first 3-0 mark in conference play adds to the list of accolades the 2012 team continues to accumulate. A win on Saturday would tack on another, giving KU its longest home win streak (10). Yet, the more honors that pile up, the more focused Bechard, his staff and his players become. Accolades are not on the agenda; winning one match at a time by implementing their game plan without making mistakes holds the Jayhawks’ complete attention.
Heading into the weekend, Kansas sits in second place in the Big 12 standings. Only Kansas State (48) has won more sets than the Jayhawks (47) and they do so with balance on both offense and defense.
Redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc (3.77) and sophomore outside hitter Sara McClinton (3.31) have ranked among the top-10 in the Big 12 all season in kills per set, but they aren’t the only ones making plays. For the first time in her career, redshirt junior outside hitter Catherine Carmichael led the Jayhawks in kills, racking up 15, at West Virginia. Senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree is second on the team with a .333 attack percentage, while freshman outside hitter Tiana Dockery is nearing the 100-kill, 100-dig mark (92 kills, 95 digs).
Aside from leading the conference in attack percentage (.403), Jarmoc’s team-best 3.77 kills per set ranks second in the league. The Calgary, Alberta, Canada native paces KU with 1.39 blocks per set. Tolefree, the second piece of the Jayhawk blocking duo, is right behind her with 1.16 blocks per set, as the two are the only Big 12 duo in the top-10 in hitting percentage and blocks per set.
Junior setter Erin McNorton has much to do with the Jayhawks’ Big-12 best 14.40 kills per set. She dishes out 12.06 assists per frame, good for third in the NCAA. Fellow junior libero Brianne Riley collected her eighth 20-plus dig effort at West Virginia and is the Big 12 digs leader with a 5.31 average.
BAYLOR (13-5, 0-3 Big 12)
Led by ninth-year head coach Mark Barnes, Baylor was voted to finish fifth in the Big 12 Preseason poll. The Bears sprinted out to a 13-1 record, sweeping No. 25 California in the process while falling only to No. 6 Hawaii. Since starting conference play, the Bears have faced a brutal schedule in No. 19 Iowa State, No. 9 Texas and No. 15 Kansas State to spark a four-match skid.
A NCAA Tournament team in 2011, Baylor lost middle blocker Brianna Tolbert from last year’s team but returns several experienced players to construct a team built of veterans and rookies in 2012.
Senior right side Alyssa Dibbern leads the team with 2.90 kills per set, while freshman outside hitter Laura Jones is right behind her with a 2.52 kps average. Sophomore middle hitter Adri Nora is the only regular attacker hitting over .300, while senior Torri Campbell leads the starters with 1.02 blocks per set. Senior setter Kate Harris is back to direct the offense, averaging 10.36 assists per set and rookie Mackenzie Mayo has taken on the starting libero role (3.05 digs per set).
As a team, BU is hitting for a .218 attack percentage with 12.75 kills per set. Defensively, the Bears dig at a 13.92 per set rate and block at a 2.37 average.
HEAD COACH Ray Bechard
On Baylor bringing back several experienced players from last year:
“They were an NCAA Tournament team from last year who got a lot of their pieces back, but they’re also playing a lot of talented young kids. They had a really, really outstanding pre-conference season and are probably playing the toughest part of their conference schedule right now with Texas, K-State and Iowa State. I know they feel like they’ve got the chance to be in the top half of our league and they’ll be an extremely competitive opponent for us.”
On defeating Baylor in the last match of the 2011 season and the closeness of the series:
“The last match of the year, we played pretty well. We ended up splitting with them, they won in four and we won in four. Over the last few years, it has been a very competitive series between our two teams and I don’t think that’ll change this year, for sure.”
On the importance of winning the first set as KU has done in 15 of 17 matches:
“It’s really important, that’s a good stat and a very good tendency to have. Obviously, that didn’t hold true last night, but the response was good after that. When you get off to a good start and a good rhythm, then that sets a good tone for the way you want to play for the rest of the match.”
No. 24 Kansas will embark on a challenging road trip, facing Oklahoma on Wed., Oct. 10 and then on to No. 9 Texas on Fri., Oct. 12. First serve in Norman, Okla., is set for 7 p.m., and in Austin, Texas at 7:30 p.m.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.