Kansas Sets Stage for Final Border Showdown of the Season
Oct. 31, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. –When the University of Kansas volleyball team kicks off the month of November, more will be at stake than usual for the Jayhawks who host Border Showdown-rival Missouri at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, Wednesday night at 6 p.m.
The Jayhawks will look to gain ground in a Big 12 Conference that continues to shake things up after Missouri swept a nationally-ranked Oklahoma squad on Saturday on the Tigers’ home floor. The same day, Baylor took down Kansas State while the evening prior to that, No. 9 Texas dethroned conference leader No. 14 Iowa State in straight sets.
With league matches ending in anyone’s favor heading into the week, Kansas now turns its attention to a match where records rarely matter. Wednesday’s meeting only heightens the production when considering this could possibly be the last time the teams face each other as Big 12 foes.
All drama aside, the Jayhawks have one focus.
“We just need a win right now,” head coach Ray Bechardsaid. “We just need a win to gain some confidence, but there are all of those things on the perimeter, as well. There is the Border Showdown that we keep track of and just the significance of the rivalry itself. Then there’s the added significance of what Missouri might or might not do. All of those things are important, but at the end of the day we need to start November being extremely competitive and finding ways to win.”
Wednesday marks the 85th match all-time between the rivals, with Missouri leading the series record, 51-33. Kansas will have the opportunity to beat Missouri at home in what could possibly be the final time one of the oldest rivalries meet as members of the same conference.
The Jayhawks put the Tigers under constant pressure in the duo’s first meeting in Columbia, Mo., on Oct. 12. After dropping the first set by four points, Kansas pushed the second set to 24-26, before winning the third set by the highest margin of victory on the evening, 25-20. Diligently working to force a fifth set, Kansas fell in the fourth by the slimmest margin possible, 26-28.
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
Wednesday’s match will be televised by Metro Sports 2 (Time Warner Cable, Ch. 311) with Brenda VanLengen and former Jayhawk volleyball player, Jill (Dorsey) Hall calling the action.
KLWN 1320 AM will air the radio broadcast live, and Kyle West will have the call. Live video and audio streaming are available on Jayhawk All-Access free for fans unable to make it to HFAC. Fans can always track the Jayhawks on GameTracker or by following JayhawkVball on Twitter.
KANSAS (13-10, 1-9 Big 12)
On Sunday, Kansas fell behind two sets to none at Texas A&M before fighting its way to a third-set victory. That marked the fifth time this season that the Jayhawks have fallen behind to open a match and came back to take at least one set. Twice this season KU dropped the opening frame only to claw its way back to victory (San Diego State and Texas Tech).
Senior outside hitter Allison Mayfieldpassed former Jayhawks Emily Brown and Mary Beth Albrecht to move into fifth all-time on KU’s all-time career kills list against the Aggies. She needs 87 kills to pass former Jayhawk Amanda Reves for fourth all-time.
“We still have at least a month left of this season,” Bechard said. “So when we’re all done, I hope that she can look back fondly at all of the things she has accomplished individually and with a team that really fought hard in the last month of her senior season.”
In the latest NCAA RPI projections released Monday afternoon, Kansas moved to No. 42, while four of the Jayhawks’ opponents this season are listed in the top six – including Minnesota. In September, KU took down then-No. 6 Minnesota, who checks in at No. 6 on the NCAA’s RPI rankings this week. Eight of the nine Big 12 schools are in the RPI’s top 50. Missouri is No. 32 in the latest RPI poll.
Mayfield ranks second in the Big 12 in kills averaging 4.15 kills per set heading into the week, good for 32nd in the NCAA. The senior is fourth in the Big 12 in points scored, racking up 4.53 points per set through the first 10 weeks of competition. Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore middle blocker Caroline Jarmocleads the team with a .305 attack percentage.
Defensively, sophomore libero Brianne Riley also ranks in the top-five in the league, her 4.35 overall digs per set ranks fourth in the league. For the second time in as many meetings, the Jayhawks out-blocked the Aggies on Sunday, led by Jarmoc and fellow middle blocker Tayler Tolefree. The duo ranks third and fourth, respectively, in the Big 12 for blocks per set.
MISSOURI (18-9, 4-6 Big 12)
Missouri enters the week after a major win at home against then-No. 21 Oklahoma. The Tigers swept the Sooners at home for their first victory against a ranked opponent this season, and first since defeating then-No. 5 Texas during the 2006 season. The win moved them into a tie for fifth-place in the Big 12 standings with Baylor.
“Missouri played extremely well against Oklahoma,” Bechard said. “Anytime you sweep a ranked opponent you’re doing something right. Everybody’s fighting to try to stay in contention and that’s what they’re doing.”
Sophomore outside hitter Lisa Henning led Mizzou with 18 kills in the match while freshman Emily Wilson pitched in 17 kills, her most since tallying a career-best 20 at Villanova at the American Classic on Sept. 17. Henning leads all Big 12 attackers in kills per set (4.61) and points per set (5.16) during league play. She has eclipsed the 20-kill mark in five of her last 10 matches, including a career-best 27 twice, one of which occured against Kansas on Oct. 12.
“Henning is a front-row, back-row option,” Bechard said. “She’s a little bit of what we try to do with (Allison) Mayfield, except they move her around even more. She’s been a significant part of their offense from the front and back rows, which takes some pressure off their younger kids.”
Sophomore setter Molly Kreklow posted a double-double in the match with 42 assists and 11 digs as well. Kreklow has recorded a double-double in nine of her last 14 matches. Her 42 assists against No. 21 Oklahoma are the best three-set total by anyone in Big 12 play this season. Kreklow now ranks third in the Big 12 in assists per set at 10.60 and leads the league in total assists at 1,071.
The Jayhawks stay at home this Saturday, as Kansas welcomes No. 9 Texas to its home floor. First serve is set for 6:30 p.m.