One-on-One with Kansas Volleyball's Seniors

Nov. 24, 2010


What do you hope to accomplish in your final two matches as a Jayhawk?

Townsend: “I hope that we can end on a really good note and hopefully get two wins before I leave.”

Manda: “Basically win, we still have a shot at the NCAA Tournament and hopefully if we can win these last two games we have an even better shot.”

Garlington: “Even more than that, the last week or two. We want to win, we want to go out with a bang, but mainly it’s just enjoying and embracing the last couple of matches and the time you get to spend with your teammates. Taking advantage of our last roadtrip and last game in Horejsi.”

Kaiser: “Both wins. That’s the only thing I care about. We have to have two wins.”

What emotions will you be going through on Senior Night against Kansas State?

Townsend: “I’m going to be anxious, but really excited. I always get excited to play Kansas State and knowing that it’s my last game in Horejsi is going to be bittersweet.”

Manda: “All kinds because we’ve been waiting to play Kansas State again. We’re all really excited to play them, especially after we just played Texas and we felt like we played well. We’re ready to get back out there and since it will be our final home game it’s going to be emotional because it will be my last home volleyball game ever, so it will be intense.”

Garlington: “First of all, it is Kansas State, so enough said. Since we lost to them earlier in the season, we’ve been waiting to play them again. I’m excited to get out and play them again and since it is also Senior Night, it’s going to be emotional. Horejsi has been amazing to play in during the last four years. I’ve had a good career and I think it will be the perfect ending.”

Kaiser: “I think I’m going to be the one that’s crying and sniffling. I don’t know how this happened but I have the coaches and the team to talk about (after the match), so it’s not going to be good. I’m going to be emotional and I’m going to have to read off a note card so I don’t cry.”

What has it been like playing in the Horesji Family Athletics Center for the last four years?

Townsend: “Horejsi is really great because we have the band and the fans get into it, so it creates a great environment for all of us girls. It’s such an intimate environment and it’s such a great homecourt. I like it better than anywhere else in the Big 12.”

Manda: “I love playing at Horesji because it’s a lot smaller than some of the gyms we play in and I like that because the fans are really close and packed in. When there’s a ton of people there and we’re playing well there isn’t a better feeling.”

Garlington: “I think Horejsi is the Allen Fieldhouse of volleyball. It’s so intimate and it might not seat huge numbers, but it feels like we do because it is such an intimate environment and I think that messes with other teams’ heads that the fans are right there. When we pack it, it’s live and happening and fun to play in. We love having the band at the games and I think they like coming to the games. It’s the best place to play in the Big 12 in my opinion.”

Kaiser: “I’ve always enjoyed how close the fans are. In basketball arenas, fans are so far away, but we have our fans right there on the court. I feel like that is definitely to our advantage.”

What is one thing that you will take away from your time at KU?

Townsend: “The biggest thing I’ve learned is being dedicated to something is really important. Managing your time so you can be the best you can be in a bunch of different aspects of life.”

Manda: “Relationships with my team, coaches and the staff. Over four years you make a lot of friends and you get to work with people who are really close to you. So that is something that won’t go away when I leave and I’ll have it forever.”

Garlington: “I think it’s inevitable being a Jayhawk because it’s going to stay with me for the rest of my life. Coming to Kansas I didn’t really know a whole lot and I wasn’t a die-hard Jayhawk fan. It was more like, ‘Cool, I’ll come to Kansas.’ It’s something that gets embedded in you and I have so much Jayhawk pride and I know that will stay with me my whole life.”

Kaiser: “Definitely time management and being disciplined. I think I’ll probably still wake up early in the morning because I’m so used to it. I’ve also really learned how to work hard. You have to come (to practice) every day wanting to improve and now I have to learn to put that into something else.”

What advice have you been given or would give to underclassmen?

Townsend: “Don’t take it for granted because your time here goes by fast. Things can happen and before you know it, it’s over. I definitely wasn’t ready for it to be over.”

Garlington: “Just embrace every part of it. From the 6 a.m. workouts that we hate, to games against Nebraska and Texas, just embrace all of it because it goes by so fast. I was talking to Melissa (Manda) the other day and was like, ‘These are my last two games that are ever going to count for anything.’ It’s crazy to think about. It just goes by so fast.”

What will you miss most about KU?

Townsend: “I’ll miss the girls the most. We’ve had a lot of good times. Not playing volleyball anymore will be hard too.”

Manda: “Not 6:30 a.m. weights. Playing at home for sure because it’s a grind throughout the season with practice and it gets hard, but it’s easy to play at home and it’s fun and everyone looks forward to that. It’s a great feeling to play well and have your friends and family in the stands.”

Garlington: “Definitely my teammates and forming a close bond with the girls over the past couple of years. It’s a bond you can’t form with other friends because teammates are there to see you struggle and see the hardships; you form a bond that can’t be replaced with girls that see you go through your ups and downs. I’m really going to miss my teammates and being in the gym every day, traveling, eating, sleeping and everything with them.”

Kaiser: “I’m going to miss the family aspect. You spend four years with these girls and then everybody moves away and moves on with their careers. I’m going to miss having the best set of friends you could ask for.”

What has been your favorite memory during your time at KU?

Townsend: “I don’t remember if it was in my freshman or sophomore year, but we won at Missouri and we were all excited in the locker room and Coach Bechard tackled Melissa Grieb.”

Manda: “The win over Iowa State this year would have to be at the top. It was just a really fun night and very exciting.”

Garlington: “There are just so many little things, but I think dealing with the crickets at Baylor. There was a cricket fiasco where they had these massive diving crickets that would just fall on you throughout the entire match. It was hilarious and we caught it all on film. I also like ‘Waving the Wheat’ after we win. Just embracing that tradition with all the fans in Horejsi is really neat and it always comes after a win so we always feel pretty good.”

Kaiser: “I like playing at home, especially versus rivals like Kansas State and Missouri, and even Nebraska, when Horejsi is full. I love when the gym is full because I feel like the fans are part of the game. I feel like playing at home has helped us win at times because of the fans.”

What has it been like playing under Coach Bechard?

Townsend: “I think it’s been great. He knows so much about the game of volleyball and he really cares about us girls. He cares about developing us as players and as people. He’s there for us on and off the court and he’s helped me become a better volleyball player and person.”

Manda: “Coach B (Bechard) is a really good coach to play for because he’s always looking out for us and he’s hard on us when he knows he needs to be, but he’s sensitive to how we feel. He’s definitely good at making sure that we’re ok with things and that we’re feeling all right. He definitely takes into consideration how we feel all the time and he tries to do what’s best for us.”

Garlington: “He’s a great coach because he does what’s best for his team. He’s so invested in his team and it’s easy to see because it comes out of him in practice and games. He has a great coaching staff that wants the best for the team.”

Kaiser: “I’ve enjoyed the fact that he wants us to become better players and better people. He wants us to succeed in life and always asks what our plans are when we graduate. I know whenever I come back and watch he’ll still be interested in what I’m doing. I’m not just some player that comes here for four years and then he forgets about me. You really gain another dad.”

What did the win over No. 10 Iowa State earlier in the season mean to the program?

Townsend: “It was a huge step for the program because it’s been a few years since KU has been to the NCAA Tournament and I feel like that was such a great step for us, to show that we’re not going to go away. It’s something to build on and look forward to in the years to come.”

Manda: “It was huge because it was the first time we have ever beat a top 10 opponent. It proved to us that we could play well against a quality team. Just hearing from former players and people outside the team how much it meant to them was a really cool feeling.”

Garlington: “I think that’s the most significant moment of my volleyball career because we were coming off a couple of horrible losses. We were practicing so hard and didn’t know why it wasn’t paying off. We came out against Iowa State and everybody from the coaches, staff and players knew that we could do it. We are a team to reckon with and it gave us confidence for the rest of the season. Anytime we go up against a team that is ranked higher than us or has a better record than us, I just think about that Iowa State game because no one thought we were going to win.”

Kaiser: “Obviously it was the first time we beat a top-10 team so I know Coach is always going to remember it. I know for future teams he is always going to be talking about the 2010 team that beat No. 10 Iowa State. I know it’s going to be something that he will never forget, so I know that meant a lot to him, which made it pretty personal for me as well.”

What are your plans after KU?

Townsend: “I’m planning on going to graduate school and getting my master’s in teaching. I’m not real sure after that, but I hope to coach and teach eventually.”

Manda: “I want to go to medical school eventually, which will probably be a year or two from now. I want to travel and might be going to Spain for a teaching job. That job entails being a teaching assistant for an English teacher in Spain as a native speaker for the kids to listen to.”

Garlington: “I’m going to move back to Colorado and start an internship I have lined up with the Mountain West Sports Network. We’ll see what happens after that, possibly graduate school.”

Kaiser: “I graduate in May and I am going to do an internship with the marketing department of a software company in Shawnee, Kan.”

What has it been like playing with this group of seniors?

Townsend: “It has been so much fun because we four girls have been through a lot together and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to play with. They are like sisters to me because they are there whenever I need them and they have taught me a lot.”

Manda: “We were just thinking back to when we lived in the towers (Jayhawk Towers) together and how all four of us have been here the whole time, so it’s pretty cool that we have experiences together that no one else on the team has.”

Garlington: “I grew up with them, so they’re my best friends, sisters and family. I couldn’t imagine doing it with any other group of girls. We talk about the same things, we all want the same things and we all feel the same way. We mesh really well because we all bring something different to the table.”

Kaiser: “It’s been a rollercoaster at times. We’ve had ups and downs, times we want to kill each other, but that’s normal. We love each other to death. I know when we all move away we’ll still see each other and visit each other. They’re three of my closest friends and I’m really going to miss them.”