Jayhawks Head To #1 Nebraska Wednesday

Oct. 25, 2005


Kansas volleyball takes on the top-ranked team in the nation Wednesday night when it travels to Lincoln to face #1 Nebraska (19-0, 10-0 Big 12). The Jayhawks, 12-8 overall and 4-7 in league action, are currently tied for eighth in the conference standings. KU met NU on Oct. 8 in Lawrence and took one game from the undefeated Huskers.

First serve is set for 7 p.m. at the Nebraska Coliseum. The match will air (tape delay) on CSTV Thursday at 9 p.m. Livestats and post-match results will be available on Kansas Athletics’ official website, kuathletics.com.

The Jayhawks return nine letterwinners including four starters in 2005. KU is led by senior middle blocker Josi Lima, a three-time All-Big 12 First Team selection who was named Sports Imports/AVCA National and Big 12 Player of the Week on Sept. 19. Postseason award candidates Paula Caten (senior) and Emily Brown (sophomore) are also in the starting six.

Lima averages a team-best 3.64 kills (.244 hitting efficiency) and 1.01 blocks per game. Freshman Savannah Noyes, at 6-3, adds 1.65 kills and 0.72 blocks per game in the other middle blocker spot.

Caten, a 6-3 outside hitter, adds 3.22 kills per game and Brown, a 6-2 right side hitter, chips in 2.78 kills, 2.38 digs and 0.42 aces per game. Junior Megan Hill has started four matches this season at outside hitter and adds 1.29 kills per game.

Junior libero Jamie Mathewson paces the defense and ranks ninth in the league with 3.35 digs per game.

The Jayhawks are without junior outside hitter Jana Correa, who suffered a season-ending injury against #20 Kansas State on Oct. 5. Before the injury, Correa averaged 3.60 kills and 2.29 digs per game in 16 starts this season.

Kansas is trying to halt a five-match losing streak that included three ranked teams — #7 Missouri (Oct. 15), #1 Nebraska (Oct. 8) and #20 Kansas State (Oct. 5).

According to Kansas records, Nebraska leads the all-time series against the Jayhawks, 74-1-1, but the Huskers’ records indicate that NU is in fact undefeated against KU. The match in question was played on Oct. 17, 1975 at the Graceland Invitational in Lamoni, Iowa. Nebraska defeated KU, 3-1, in the first half of Big 12 play on Oct. 8 in Lawrence.

The defending Big 12 champion Huskers have remained at the top of the CSTV/AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll since the preseason, easily knocking off nine ranked ranked teams en route to a 19-0 overall mark. Nebraska is coming off a 3-0 win at #23 Kansas State on Oct. 19 and enjoyed a Saturday bye after finishing its first half of league play 10-0.

Favored to win the national championship, NU is led by an offense hitting .328 and a defense that boasts 4.21 blocks per game. The Huskers lead the league and rank among the nation’s best in hitting percentage, blocks, opponent hitting (.128) and wins (19).

NU uses a balanced offensive attack with five Huskers contributing 2.21 or more kills per game. Senior middle blocker Melissa Elmer leads the team with a .450 hitting efficiency and 2.38 blocks per game while outside hitter Sarah Pavan, Jordan Larson and Christina Houghtelling each add 3.38 or more kills per game.

The Huskers have lost just six of their 63 games this season including just three in conference play — one to Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

KU was able to take one game from top-ranked Nebraska Oct. 8, but ended up with a 3-1 loss to the Huskers in front of another sellout crowd of 1,300 at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. KU fell to #1 Nebraska, 30-16, 26-30, 30-22 and 30-15.

Emily Brown paced the KU offense with 16 kills on a .333 hitting efficiency and added six digs and three assists. Josi Lima had nine kills while Paula Caten (11 digs) and Savannah Noyes added eight kills apiece in the effort.

Jamie Mathewson was solid defensively for the Jayhawks, posting a match-high 16 digs. Andi Rozum dished a match-best 42 assists and added 10 digs and five kills.

NU was led by Christina Houghtelling’s 14 kills on a .458 attack percentage. Sarah Pavan (12 kills) and Melissa Elmer (11 kills) rounded out the Huskers’ double-digit scorers. NU outhit the Jayhawks .292 to .071 and recorded an impressive 22.0 blocks to KU’s 4.0.

Senior middle blocker Josi Lima has been dubbed one of the most prolific volleyball players in KU history since her first season as a Jayhawk in 2002. Lima is already the all-time kills leader at KU (1,380) and is just 66 digs away from becoming just the third Jayhawk in school history to record both 1,000 kills and digs in a career. Sarah Rome (2000-03) and Cyndee Kanabel (1990-93) are the only two Jayhawks to accomplish the feat.

The Big 12 is celebrating its 10th anniversary of athletic competition during the 2005-06 season. In an effort to recognize this milestone, the conference and its member schools are selecting special 10th anniversary teams for all sports. In certain sports, including volleyball, the Big 12 is asking its fans to vote via the league web site for student-athletes they feel should be honored on anniversary teams as part of the celebration.

Online voting is available until Nov. 1.

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