Bechard Coach of the Year, Six Earn All-Big 12 Awards
Nov. 26, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Fifteen-year head coaching veteran Ray Bechard won his first Big 12 Coach of the Year honors to highlight a well-represented Kansas volleyball team on the All-Big 12 Conference awards list, released Monday afternoon.
Bechard’s coaching honor was one of two specialty awards for the Jayhawks as senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree earned the league’s inaugural Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. Redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc and sophomore outside hitter Sara McClinton each earned All-Big 12 First Team honors, while junior setter Erin McNorton and junior libero Brianne Riley were named to the league’s honorable mention squad. Outside hitter Tiana Dockerywas named to the Big 12’s All-Freshman Team.
“There’s a lot of fun things that have happened this year and it all centers around the successes of the team,” Bechard said. “You don’t get awards – weekly, national or any awards – if the team isn’t excelling and achieving at a high level. It would be a little unfair of me to say `Wow this is a great award,’ when really this is a Kansas volleyball team award.”
This marks the first Coach of the Year distinction for KU in the Big 12 era. Bechard, in his 15th season at Kansas, has led the Jayhawks to all four of their NCAA appearances, making its first since 2005, KU will host first round action in Lawrence.
KU finished the 2012 regular season 25-6 overall and 12-4 in the Big 12, marking the first time a Kansas squad has won 25 matches since the 1991 season. KU, picked to finish the season sixth in the preseason poll, finished third in the Big 12 standings – its highest finish in conference history. The Jayhawks’ 12 league wins are their second-most in the Big 12 era (13-7, 2003). Kansas broke its program-best RPI mark as they jumped to No. 6 in the Nov. 19 rankings. In 2012, Kansas is 10-6 against top-50 RPI teams and 16-6 against the top-100 and has been ranked in the AVCA top 25 for the past eight weeks, including a program-best No. 17 ranking on Oct. 22.
Tolefree earned the league’s first Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, sharing the honor with Iowa State’s Jamie Straube. Nominees must be a junior or senior in athletic and academic standings, have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2, participation in at least 60 percent of the team’s scheduled contests, and a minimum of one year in residence at the institution in order to qualify. A three-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team honoree, Tolefree holds a 3.74 GPA and is majoring in human biology/pre-med. The Lawrence, Kan., native finished 2012 ranked 10th in league matches in hitting percentage (.299) and sixth in blocks (1.03).
Jarmoc and McClinton are the first All-Big 12 First Team award winners at Kansas since the 2005 season. KU has never had two first team honorees in the same year. As an honorable mention award winner in 2011, Jarmoc is the only Jayhawk previously honored by the Big 12.
Jarmoc is a Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team member and is currently in consideration for Academic All-America. She also became the third Jayhawk in program history to earn AVCA National Player of the Week honors (Oct. 23). The Calgary, Alberta, Canada native finished the regular season hitting a Big 12-best .396, the best single season attack percentage in KU history.
McClinton joined Jarmoc as one of seven players in the league to average more than three kills per set in 2012. She finished right behind Jarmoc for second on the team with 354 for a 3.22 kills per set average. The Omaha, Neb., native racked up double-digit kills in 19 of 31 matches and tallied more than 15 eight times, including a career-high 22 against Tulsa.
Riley and McNorton were keys to KU’s regular season success. In the final week of the season, Riley broke KU’s single-season digs record with 574 (previously 549) and KU’s career digs record with 1,459 (previously 1,457) – in only three seasons. Her 574 digs led all Big 12 liberos despite missing a match this season due to injury. The Naperville, Ill., native also broke a Big 12 record with 43 digs in a match at Oklahoma.
A Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District Second Team member, McNorton has served as a great story for the Kansas volleyball team all season long. The Dallas, Texas native had never started a match prior to 2012 and at the conclusion of the regular season, McNorton’s 1,354 assists in 2012 are more than seven Big 12 teams have acquired as a team and are the most by a Jayhawk since 1999 (3rd most in KU history). Her efforts helped KU to a .239 attack percentage as a team, fourth-best by a Kansas team.
Dockery finished her rookie campaign with more than 150 kills (162) and 150 digs (177), averaging nearly two per set in each category. She earned Big 12 Rookie of the Week honors on Oct. 8 and posted three double-doubles (kills/digs) on the year. She recorded a career-high 15 kills in KU’s win against Creighton and 14 in wins against both Iowa State and Oklahoma.
The No. 20 Jayhawks will face Cleveland State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Friday, Nov. 30 inside Allen Fieldhouse at 6:30 p.m. Kansas is hosting the first and second rounds for the first time in school history.
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