Kansas Returns Home to Host Oklahoma
Nov. 14, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. –Hot off of a comeback victory on the road, the University of Kansas volleyball team will look to stretch that momentum against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Kansas (14-12, 2-11) enters the midweek contest ready for a rematch against a Sooner (19-9, 6-6) squad that robbed the Jayhawks of a two-set lead on the road on Oct. 15. Then-No. 22 Oklahoma roared back to win the match in five sets on its home court against the Jayhawks, but now heads to Lawrence on a four-match losing skid. Needless to say, for a team that had spent 12-straight weeks on the AVCA Division I Top 25 Coaches poll until losing its spot on the poll Monday afternoon, OU’s current losing streak is far from normal.
“There is nothing wrong with the Sooners,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “They’re one win away from 20 wins and they are the only team to beat Texas in our league. They’re a top 25 team, they’re an NCAA Tournament team and they’re an extremely veteran team with (Brianne) Barker and (Suzy) Boulavsky leading the way.”
In their last time out, the Sooners were defeated in four sets in Norman, Okla., by the Baylor Bears. Ironically, the loss may have affected Kansas more than Oklahoma. As the Jayhawks battle to gain ground in the Big 12 standings, Baylor, who sits in seventh-place, is the team KU is focused on catching. However, with eight of the league’s nine teams in the NCAA RPI’s top 45, the Big 12 is a brutally difficult league in which to climb.
“It’s just a product of our league and how difficult it is to night-in and night-out do what you want to do,” Bechard said. “They had a great non-conference so they’ll come in ready to go. They are well coached and I know it will be a good test for us.”
Kansas enters the week at No. 44 in the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index, while Oklahoma dropped to No. 30 after being No. 23 in the projections last week.
FOLLOW THE HAWKS
The match will begin at 6 p.m., rather than the normal 6:30 p.m., and fans will be admitted for just $3 with a canned food donation.
Wednesday’s match will be televised by Metro Sports (Knology – Channel 37). Brenda VanLengen and former Jayhawk volleyball player, Jill (Dorsey) Hall, will be on the call.
For those outside of the Metro broadcasting area and unable to make it to the HFAC, live video and audio streaming is also available on Jayhawk All-Access free of charge. Kyle West calls the action for the Jayhawks online. Fans can always track the Jayhawks on GameTracker or by following JayhawkVball on Twitter.
KANSAS (14-12, 2-11 Big 12)
The Jayhawks and Sooners are meeting for the 74th time in program history, with Oklahoma holding the 43-30 series lead. The last time these two squared off, however, Kansas was a mere two points shy of sweeping the nationally-ranked conference foe at its place. A determined Kansas team fought its way to a two-set advantage and with a 23-21 lead in the third set, the Jayhawks had all signs pointing to a sweep.
Oklahoma, however, had different plans. The Sooners won four-straight points to win the set and stay alive. Armed with a fresh stack of momentum and a senior-laden leadership base, the Sooners pulled off the comeback victory in five sets.
“We got a lead down there, but that’s a testament to how they play,” Bechard said. “They never give up and they’re extremely competitive and that senior leadership creates that. When their backs were against the wall against us, they responded just the way you think they would, with a lot of grit and determination. They came back and beat us in a competitive five-set match. It won’t be any different wherever they play, they’re going to have that same fire and intensity. We need to match that.”
Kansas showed its own level of intensity in its most recent outing. The Jayhawks posted their third comeback victory of the season at Texas Tech on Saturday. After dropping the first set to a competitive Red Raider team, the Jayhawks overwhelmed the home team on both sides of the ball in the next three sets to take the four-set victory on the road.
“I think we continue to get better and continue to practice well, which is extremely encouraging but it’s the only choice we have,” Bechard said. “We played very hard in the last two and a half sets against Texas Tech; it was a very tough opponent on their home floor. We’ve let too many opportunities get away from us and there are not too many opportunities left. Now we get an opportunity to come home and continue to play hard and see what kind of results we get.”
Senior outside hitter Allison Mayfield registered her third 20-plus kill effort this season in the Oklahoma match on Oct. 15. She put up her fifth of the season on Saturday at Texas Tech along with her eighth double-double. The senior leader is playing determined, committing just two errors in 50 swings against TTU. She moved up to second in the Big 12 with 4.16 kills per set.
Fellow senior Nicole Tate also had an all-star match at Oklahoma, putting up KU’s season-high 59 assists, dishing out double-digit kills to four different Jayhawks for the first time since the 2009 season. Defensively, Kansas received double-digit dig performances from five different players; also for the first time since the 2009 season.
RV OKLAHOMA (19-9, 6-6 Big 12)
The Sooners knocked off then-No. 8 Texas on Sept. 28, en route to kicking off the Big 12 season with a 4-0 record. Since then, Oklahoma has faced ups and downs like most of the league, going 2-6 after becoming the only Big 12 team to defeat the Longhorns.
Like Kansas, Oklahoma has experienced few sweeps this season, irrelevant of which side the win-loss column the matches were on. Kansas has fallen via the sweep just three times in Big 12 play, while the only sweep in the league schedule the Sooners have dealt with was a 3-0 loss at Missouri.
The similarities continue on the stat sheet as the teams rank right next to each other in the conference-only matches in assists (OU-12.09/KU-11.81), kills (OU-12.87/KU-12.73), blocks (OU-2.51/KU-2.48) and service aces (0.87/0.83).
In overall play, sophomore middle blocker Sallie McLaurin is one of just two Big 12 players who rank higher than Kansas middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc in blocks per set. McLaurin is averaging 1.36 bps to rank second, while Jarmoc’s 1.24 bps rank third.
The seniors Bechard mentioned his team will be weary of was on point as Boulavsky leads the team with 3.36 kills per set with a solid .300 hitting percentage. Barker, the team’s setter, is fourth in league play with 10.35 assists per set.
For the first time in 12 weeks, the Jayhawks will not play in a weekend match. Kansas returns to the floor next Wednesday, Nov. 23, for its final road match of the regular season at Kansas State. First serve is set for 7 p.m., from Ahearn Fieldhouse in Manhattan, Kan.