Stage Set for Second Round of Sunflower Showdown
Nov. 5, 2012
|Live Audio||AT&T Jayhawk All-Access|
|Big 12 Notes||Weekly Release|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – In a battle for second place the Big 12 Conference, No. 23 Kansas and No. 17 Kansas State will square off in Manhattan for the rivals’ final Sunflower Showdown of the season inside Ahearn Fieldhouse, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
KLWN (1320 AM) will broadcast its fourth-straight Wednesday match with Kyle West on the call, or fans can tune in for a live audio stream on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access. The match will also be televised on Fox Sports Midwest (Knology, Ch. 172).
Fans can always track the Jayhawks on GameTracker or by following JayhawkVball on Twitter.
Kansas claimed the first meeting of 2012 at home on Oct. 17. Kansas State holds a 61-37 all-time record in a series that dates back to 1975. At home, the Jayhawks are 17-28 against their in-state rival, while the Wildcats hold the advantage in Manhattan, 26-10. Kansas has the 10-7 lead on a neutral court. KU last defeated Kansas State in Manhattan on Oct. 17, 2009 when the Jayhawks took both matches of the season series.
Always a battle, the Jayhawks and Wildcats have played only two three-set matches in their last 10 meetings – both of which came during KU’s 2009 season-series sweep.
AT A GLANCE
-Neither Kansas nor Kansas State has lost back-to-back matches this season. Both teams enter Wednesday’s match coming off of a loss (KSU at Texas, KU at Baylor).
-KU’s last 20-win season came in 2003, the year of the Jayhawks’ first NCAA Tournament appearance. Kansas needs just three more wins to break the program’s best win total in the Big 12 era (22, 2003).
-After suffering its worst margin of defeat this season in the first set at Baylor, 25-10, the Jayhawks were able to regroup despite the loss. The next three sets were all determined by the mandatory two points. KU has lost 30 sets this season, 15 of which were by two points. In those 30 sets, the average margin of defeat is 4.1 points.
-At 13-0, Kansas is the only team in the Big 12 undefeated at home in 2012, tying the program record for most home wins in a season (1978, 1991).
-KU has hit under .150 only three times this season. Each time, the Jayhawks have bounced back in a big way (.101 at Texas then .271 vs. Kansas State; .147 at Iowa State then .418 vs. West Virginia). Kansas recorded a .126 attack percentage at Baylor.
-KU moved to No. 23 on the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I Coaches poll. Four Big 12 members hold spots in the nation’s top-25: No. 3 Texas, No. 17 Kansas State, No. 20 Iowa State and No. 23 Kansas. KU has been in the top-25 for six-straight weeks.
-The Jayhawks remain at No. 10 on the NCAA RPI projections this week, putting KU in the RPI’s top-10 four of six weekly projections. In 2012, Kansas is 6-5 against top-50 RPI teams and 12-5 against the top-100. Kansas State improved from No. 12 to No. 11 this week.
-Kansas (20-5, .800) is on pace to break the program record for winning percentage. The 1986 team currently holds KU’s best (26-9, .743).
-If the season ended today, redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc would break KU’s career (.327) and single-season attack percentage (.393) records. Fellow junior Brianne Riley would break the single-season digs per set record as well (5.17).
-Kansas ranks second in the Big 12 in kills (14.18), blocks (2.69), digs (15.97) per set and is tied with Kansas State for second in the league in assists per set (13.31). KU is holding teams to a Big 12-best .160 attack percentage.
NO. 23 KANSAS (20-5, 8-3 Big 12)
Led by head coach Ray Bechard in his 15th season at Kansas, the Jayhawks were admittedly not as prepared as the home team, resulting in a loss at Baylor. Although it marked a loss during a critical time for the NCAA selection committee, the Jayhawks held tight to their position in the RPI’s top-10. Ready to move on, the Jayhawks are prepared for an important match at Kansas State, not only as a matchup between two top-15 RPI teams, but as an opportunity to rebound and play at a level in which they’re accustomed.
In last week’s matches against West Virginia and Baylor, Kansas relied heavily on the strength of its middles to shoulder the offensive load. Senior Tayler Tolefree and redshirt junior Caroline Jarmoc have ranked in the league’s top-10 in both hitting percentage and blocks per set all season long, but in the last two matches the duo has been asked to provide the majority of the scoring. They recorded 46 of KU’s 89 kills (52 percent) and only five of the team’s 36 errors (14 percent).
The last time KU played KSU, the outside hitters made the difference as the Jayhawks received 19 kills from sophomore Sara McClinton, nine from redshirt junior Catherine Carmichael and seven from sophomore Chelsea Albers.
KU checks in at first or second in the Big 12 in every statistical category outside of service aces and does so with a well-balanced cast of characters. Jarmoc is top-five in hitting percentage (.393, 2nd), kills per set (3.59, 4th), blocks per set (1.35) and points per set (4.60, 3rd). Meanwhile, juniors Erin McNorton and Brianne Riley lead the league in assists (11.90 a/s) and digs (5.17 d/s), respectively.
In conference play, Jarmoc (3.23), McClinton (3.05) and redshirt junior outside hitter Catherine Carmichael (2.90) rank sixth, eighth and ninth in the Big 12, respectively, in kills per set. No other league school has three players in the top-10.
NO. 17 KANSAS STATE (20-4, 7-4 Big 12)
The Wildcats are led by 12th-year head coach Suzie Fritz, who both played (1990-91) and coached (1995-96) under Kansas coach Ray Bechard while in his previous role as the head coach at Barton County Community College. Kansas State was voted to finish third in the Big 12 Preseason Poll, the same place the team currently holds. KSU kicked off its season with a program-best 12-0 start, which included wins over No. 10 Minnesota and No. 20 Dayton. After falling at Kansas on Oct. 17, KSU won three-straight (TTU, at WVU, BU) before getting swept at then-No. 7 Texas on Saturday.
Kansas State has arguably the most veteran squad in the Big 12 as each of the Wildcats’ everyday players is a junior or a senior. Like the Jayhawks, KSU has a powerful and effective middle blocking unit. Junior middle blocker and returning AVCA honorable mention All-American, Kaitlynn Pelger, ranks third behind KU’s Jarmoc in the Big 12 in attack percentage (.343), but is second in the league in kills per set (3.77) and points per set (4.60). Senior middle blocker Alex Muff is right in front of Jarmoc at third in the Big 12 with 1.39 blocks per set.
Senior setter Caitlyn Donahue leads the squad with 11.84 assists per set, good for second in the Big 12 behind KU’s McNorton. Senior libero Kuulei Kabalis checks in with 3.17 digs per set.
As a team, Kansas State records 14.05 kills per set on a .261 attack percentage and is tied with Kansas in assists per set (13.31). The Wildcats are eighth in the Big 12 in digs (14.38).
HEAD COACH Ray Bechard
On the importance of this match after an uncharacteristic performance against Baylor:
“It’s an important match in the Big 12 Conference standings. It’s an important match in the regional rankings, but for us, it’s just a very important match for us to play better and create opportunities in things that we need to do well to be successful. We didn’t really do that over the weekend. Last time we played, it was a high-level volleyball match, and I would expect that this time around it will be the same thing.”
On the team’s ability to bounce back and play three close sets after losing big in the first:
“It was uncharacteristic because we are usually a pretty good starting team. As you make your way through 16 conference matches and over 30 matches in a season, you learn a little more about your team. You fight different levels of adversity. To this point, we’ve been extremely consistent in how we started for the most part. A lot of that had to do with how hot Baylor was and how they viewed the importance of that match. Obviously, they viewed it as being a little bit more important than we did. In this league, you don’t live in the past. You look to the future, and it’s obviously a big week for us with two really good teams.”
On whether or not the longer break after a Monday match threw the team out of its routine:
“No, I thought there were some good times in practice. It was just one team ready to play and one not. There’s no excuse for it. Baylor didn’t play for a week, so the routine had nothing to do with it. It was just our inability to match their energy and their execution early on. We dug a hole, tried to fight back and the volleyball got competitive after the first set.”
On handling the hype of the rivalry and winning the first meeting:
“People didn’t really expect us to be involved in a competitive series with them this year. People picked them second or third and us in the bottom half of the league. Our team has responded to this point with a competitive record. There have been moments where we’ve played at a high level, but you can’t depend on what happened last time. You can’t depend on what happened the last point. You just always have to move forward. They’ll be ready, and we’ll be ready. Hopefully it’s another great match like we had with them the first time.”
No. 23 Kansas returns home to play host to No. 3 Texas in a meeting between the Big 12’s second and first place teams on Saturday, Nov. 10. The Jayhawks and Longhorns are set to start at 6:30 p.m. inside a sold-out Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
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