Kansas Set for Second Chance at Texas A&M in Rare Sunday Match
Oct. 28, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Three weeks ago, the University of Kansas volleyball team rolled out to a two-set lead against Texas A&M before falling by two points to the Aggies in the fifth and final set. On Sunday, the Jayhawks will look for redemption when they travel to College Station, Texas to face the Aggies at 2 p.m.
Kansas will get its shot at redemption from the teams’ Oct. 8 meeting in Lawrence. After building a 2-0 lead on their home floor against the Aggies, Texas A&M fought off match point in the third set and came back from a 9-6 deficit in the fifth set to steal the win in Lawrence.
“Of the two most disappointing conference losses we’ve had this season, that would be one of them,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “The trap is that last time doesn’t equal this time, but we had an extremely competitive match against them last time. They made plays.”
This time around, Kansas heads south to play in a rare Sunday meeting as the team looks to even the series after taking both matches against the Aggies last season, including its first-ever win at Texas A&M’s Reed Arena.
“I don’t know if I ever remember playing on a Sunday,” Bechard said. “But when Texas A&M has a football game, we’ll either play Friday or Sunday around it. With us being on the road this Wednesday, Sunday was probably a better option for us.”
When the two teams squared off in Lawrence, KU was hosting its “Jayhawks for a Cure” match to benefit breast cancer research. On Sunday, the Aggies will welcome the Jayhawks for their breast cancer awareness match.
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
Sunday’s match will be streamed live online by the Aggies’ 12th Man TV. Fans can also track the Jayhawks on GameTracker or by following JayhawkVball on Twitter.
KANSAS (13-9, 1-8)
On Wednesday, the Jayhawks ran into the buzz saw that is the Iowa State Cyclones, who entered the week with the No. 3 Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) mark in the NCAA – the highest placement the Cyclone squad has ever seen. Iowa State (17-3, 8-1) proved its RPI projection, its ranking in the AVCA Division I Top 25 Coaches poll and the team’s first-place Big 12 standing on Wednesday.
The Cyclones hit .315 as a team and collected 10 service aces to sweep the Jayhawks in their last time out. ISU is the only team to keep Kansas from recording a single ace or from reaching 30 kills for the first time this season.
“In this league you have to have the ability to move on and really be at your best for the next match you play,” Bechard said. “Texas A&M is our next opportunity.”
The Jayhawks have plenty of weapons to do so. KU ended last week with a come-from-behind victory against Texas Tech last Saturday. Senior outside hitter Allison Mayfield led the floor with 21 kills, her fourth 20-kill effort of the season. Heading into the weekend, Mayfield ranks second in the Big 12 in kills (4.17 kps) and points (4.55 pps).
Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc started the week with her first Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honor after posting back-to-back, seven-block efforts against Kansas State and Texas Tech. Heading into Sunday’s matchup, Jarmoc’s 1.24 blocks per set ranks third in the league, good for 37th in the country.
As a team, Kansas ranks third in the league with 2.63 blocks per set. Wednesday’s match at Iowa State snapped a four-match streak of a Jayhawk recording seven blocks. The most recent match against the Cyclones marked just the fourth time in conference play that the Jayhawks did not out-blocked their opponent. Behind Jarmoc, and fellow middle blocker Tayler Tolefree, Kansas is strong at the libero position with sophomore starter Brianne Riley. With three 20-plus and one 30-plus dig efforts in Big 12 play, Riley ranks third in conference-only matches with 4.71 digs per set.
RV TEXAS A&M (16-5, 5-3)
Texas A&M enters the weekend at fourth place in the Big 12 standings, one game behind No. 21 Oklahoma. With a mid-week bye on Wednesday, A&M has not played since falling in a close contest to then-No. 15 Iowa State, 3-1, last Saturday at Reed. The dramatic match up saw neither team win a set by more than four points. The loss snapped a three-match winning streak and was A&M’s first home loss of the season.
“They’ve got a lot of experienced players and have played a lot of four and five-set matches this year,” Bechard said. “That’s not something that takes them out of what they’re trying to do.”
Texas A&M leads the Big 12 in both assists (12.84 aps) and kills (13.84 kps). The Aggies are also second in the league with 1.37 aces per set for the full season, thanks in large par to senior middle blocker Elise Hendrickson, who leads the Big 12 with 0.37 aces per set. She has had at least one ace in 16 of 21 matches and has tallied two or more aces in 10 matches. Junior middle blocker Lindsey Miller is ranked fifth in the Big 12 in both hitting percentage (.357) and blocks (1.18 bps). Over the last three matches, Miller is hitting .385 and averaging 3.5 kills, 1.36 blocks and 4.29 points per set.
Sophomore setter Allie Sawatzky is averaging 10.86 assists per set over the last three matches and moved into 10th place in the A&M career records for assists when the Aggies defeated Texas Tech.
The Jayhawks return home next week for back-to-back matches at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. Kansas opens the week with a televised Wednesday match against rival Missouri. Fans should note that the match time has been moved up to 6 p.m. On Saturday, Kansas welcomes No. 9 Texas to its home floor.