Kansas Breaks Up November Homestand for Meeting at Texas Tech
Nov. 10, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. –Armed with a week of rest, the University of Kansas volleyball team continues its hunt for a strong finish to the Big 12 Conference season, beginning with a road match at Texas Tech, Saturday at 5 p.m.
After playing just four home matches in October, Kansas will leave the friendly confines of the Horejsi Family Athletics Center for one of two November road matches. A midweek bye this Wednesday gave the Jayhawks a breather with four regular-season matches remaining. The first of which has the Jayhawks (13-12, 1-11) aiming to sweep the season series from the Red Raiders (15-12, 1-11) after taking the first match in Lawrence on Oct. 22, 3-1.
“We hit it pretty hard there for about a month,” head coach Ray Bechardsaid. “We feel like we’ve done a good job trying to gain technically, but at the same time, trying to recharge physically and emotionally. This break came at a good time for us.”
Texas Tech notched its first league win in a five-set clash against Baylor in the match following its stay in Lawrence. Meanwhile, Kansas has taken at least one set from three of its last four opponents – including forcing No. 8 Texas to five sets for just the fourth time this season – in its last time out. Nevertheless, both teams are heading into the weekend looking for their second league win.
“First and foremost, Texas Tech has played very competitive volleyball this season,” Bechard said. “They’ve had a number of near misses. Obviously, they have a roster that is extremely capable of having success in our league, led by a great four-year player in Amanda Dowdy. They’ll be at home so it’ll be a great challenge for our team. At this point in the season, we have limited chances left, so every opportunity that we have is of the utmost importance.”
Kansas enters the week at No. 45 in the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index. The Big 12 improved to eight of its nine members being in the RPI’s top 45. Texas Tech is the only outsider, but has moved its way up to No. 87.
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Live-streaming video of Saturday’s match will be available on Texas Tech All-Access free of charge. Fans can always track the Jayhawks on GameTracker or by following JayhawkVball on Twitter.
KANSAS (13-12, 1-11 Big 12)
The last time these two teams squared off, the Jayhawks put up 60 kills to the Red Raiders’ 35, the most lopsided numbers KU has put up on an opponent this year. It was a situation for which Bechard had two explanations.
“(We did execute but) The other thing we had was 30-some hitting errors,” Bechard said. “So that means we get another chance to swing because we hit too many balls out of bounds, but we had a good game plan against them. Especially after the break, we were able to shut them down and hit for a pretty high efficiency.”
Against then-No. 9 Texas in the Jayhawks’ most recent action, Kansas took two sets from a Longhorn team that had only lost five sets total in Big 12 play.
That may have been an irregular evening for Texas, who has swept seven league matches this year, but it completely fit into the Jayhawks’ trend of pressuring teams all season long. The Jayhawks have been swept three times this season – once by Texas and twice by Iowa State – who currently holds a program-best No. 3 RPI ranking.
In 11 league matches, Kansas has played 48 sets. Of those 48 sets, the Jayhawks have won 14 of them, but have lost an outstanding 11 sets by three points or less. The story didn’t change against a top-10 Texas team, as the Jayhawks outdid their opponent in nearly every category on the court as they recorded more kills (60/58), more assists (57/56) and hit for a higher percentage (.210/.209) than the visiting Big 12 leader.
Last Saturday, senior outside hitter Allison Mayfield became the Jayhawks’ all-time attempts leader, a title that encompasses her role in the last four years. She also led the team with 17 kills, a pair of service aces and two blocks. In 25 matches this season, Mayfield has registered double-digit kills 22 times.
Mayfield remains consistently ranked among the Big 12 leaders. This week, the senior checks in at third in the league in both kills per set (4.11) and points per set (4.49) to lead the offense. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc leads the team and ranks in the league’s top 10 with a .308 hitting percentage. In fact, if the season ended today, Jarmoc’s attack efficiency would rank fourth-all time in Jayhawk history in a single season.
Jarmoc and fellow middle, junior Tayler Tolefree, combined for 19 kills and nine blocks against the Longhorns. The duo is tied for ninth all-time in the program’s top 10 for block assists in a single season with 96 apiece. Jarmoc’s 1.22 blocks per set ranks third in the Big 12, while Tolefree’s 1.18 mark is fifth. Together the pair is leading Kansas’ 2.59 blocks per set as a team, which ranks third in the conference and 31st in the NCAA.
TEXAS TECH (15-12, 1-11 Big 12)
The Red Raiders’ last meeting was also against Texas, who moved up to No. 8 in the AVCA Division I Top 25 Coaches poll. TTU didn’t fare quite as well on its home court, as Texas won in straight-sets, despite the Red Raiders’ largest home crowd of the season.
Coming off of a tough stretch, Texas Tech has fallen via a sweep in its last three matches since defeating Baylor in five on Oct. 26. Saturday will mark the Red Raiders’ last home match before hosting Missouri on the last day of the regular season.
Offensively, Texas Tech is led by senior Amanda Dowdy. The 6-3 outside hitter trails Mayfield as her 4.03 kills per set rank fourth in the Big 12. Much like KU’s Mayfield, Dowdy is also a six-rotation player and her 3.33 digs per set trail only the team’s libero, junior Tory Vaughan.
Defensively, the Red Raiders have led the Big 12 all season in blocks, which made it all the more impressive when the Jayhawks out-blocked them in their last meeting. Heading into the weekend, TTU is averaging a league-best 2.86 blocks per set, good for seventh in the country. Sophomore middle blocker Dravon Rangel sets the tone with her Big 12-leading 1.49 blocks per set. Meaning, Saturday’s match will feature three of the top five blockers in the league in Rangel and KU’s Jarmoc and Tolefree.
Kansas returns home to host No. 25 Oklahoma on Wednesday, Nov. 16. The Jayhawks will look to avenge the nationally-ranked Sooners’ five-set comeback win in Norman, Okla., on Oct. 15. Metro Sports will televise the match and first serve is set for 6 p.m.