Manda Leads Jayhawks With Record-Breaking Season

Oct. 14, 2010


Senior Melissa Manda recently broke the all-time record for digs in a career passing Jill (Dorsey) Hall to put her name atop the Kansas volleyball record books.

“It feels really good. My parents have been tracking the record so I kind of new about it, but didn’t know for sure how close I was to breaking it. So when coach B (Ray Bechard) announced it on the bus after our match at Baylor, it was really exciting,” Manda said.

Manda shattered the record with her 28-dig performance in the Jayhawks’ 3-1 victory at Baylor on Wednesday, Oct. 14.

The senior realized how big of an accomplishment it was, but it was never something that she let herself think too much about.

“It’s a big deal to me, but it wasn’t something that was so important that it was the only thing I was focusing on,” Manda said. “To me, the most important thing is our season as a whole because we all really want to make it to the NCAA Tournament and anything I can do to help our team is all I’m concerned with.”

Coming into the season, Manda wasn’t sure what her role on the team would be because a lot of new players joined the team and injuries had occurred, but her goals never changed.

“I wanted to be comfortable wherever I was and to try and be consistent throughout the season so I could step up when the team needed me,” Manda said.

Manda is a defensive specialist/libero for the Jayhawks and it is up to her to get the offense started. The job of a defensive specialist is to serve as the primary passer. If she does her job correctly, then the Jayhawks have a good chance of scoring a point. Passing is one of the main priorities that Manda works on during practice.

“We do a lot of repetitive passing drills and focusing on the little things in passing and digging. We work on communication a lot too because it is something that is important for us to work well as a team, but something the people in the stands might not notice or see,” said Manda, a Wichita, Kan., native.

For the season, Manda is second on the team with 2.74 digs per set and also has a serve receiving percentage of .970, which is good for second on the team as well.

Manda has helped put the Jayhawks back on track after the team hit a rough stretch at the end of September. The Jayhawks recently knocked off No. 10 Iowa State and Baylor in consecutive matches to put the Jayhawks at 13-6 overall and 4-4 in conference play. The victory over Iowa State was the first win against a top 10 team in the program’s history.

“That was the biggest game I have ever had and it was huge for us. It was really exciting for us because we’ve had a couple of tough losses that we feel like we shouldn’t have lost. But getting that win brought everything back together and proved to us that we are a good team and that everything we’ve been working for has been worth it,” Manda said.

In that huge win, Manda dug a career-best 32 balls, which also set a facility record. Her performance was recognized by the Big 12 Conference as it named her Big 12 Volleyball Defensive Player of the Week.

As the Jayhawks continue down the backstretch of conference play, Manda still thinks the Jayhawks have room to get better as they continue towards their goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament.

“I think its consistency. We’ve proven to ourselves at home that we can play at a really high level and it’s just a matter of staying at that level for every opponent regardless of who they are,” Manda said. “Taking that on the road with us is important too because we know now after beating Baylor that we can win every match as long as we play at that high level.”

Manda is set to graduate from KU in May and she will undoubtedly miss her playing days for the Jayhawks. Manda says she will miss her teammates because of the bonds she has built over the last four years and playing in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. She plans to eventually attend medical school, but says she is going to take a year or two off from school. Next summer she hopes to work for the Yosemite National Park.

The end of the regular season is set to finish in late November, but there is still a lot of volleyball left to play for the Jayhawks. Manda feels good about her team’s chances of reaching the tournament if they continue to play like they have the last two matches.

“After the last couple of games I think we’ve gotten our momentum back and we definitely believe we have a good shot,” Manda said.