Looking Back: 2010 KU Women's Volleyball Season Rewind
Dec. 8, 2010
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
Even though the 2010 KU women’s volleyball team won’t be playing in December, Ray Bechard’s team has to consider the season gone by as nothing but a success.
First and foremost, the squad won more games (17) than it has in the past six seasons. The last time the Crimson and Blue volleyball squad reached the 17-win plateau was 2004, when 19-wins were good enough to propel the team into the second round of the NCAA tournament.
“Ultimately our goal was to get to the NCAA tournament, so if you measure the success of the year against that obviously we were a little bit disappointed,” said Coach Bechard. “I think you have to be careful to surmise the entire season based on one of your goals because there were a lot of great things that happened.”
One of those highlights came early on in the non-conference schedule in Omaha, Neb., at the Creighton Blue Jay Invitational. There, Bechard’s crew would win their first two matches against Lipscomb and San Francisco and then take the final one over host and eventual NCAA tournament team Creighton, 3-1.
Another big ‘W’ came on September 29, as the Jayhawks did battle with archrival Missouri. The game was televised and played in front of a sellout crowd inside the Horejsi Family Athletic Center where the Jayhawks disposed of the Tigers in four sets, 25-21, 25-20, 24-26, 25-21. At the time, Coach Bechard called his team’s performance, “The best night offensively we’ve had all season.”
Beating Texas A&M both at home and on the road were two more substantial victories that the coach points to, as well as the October 9 win over No. 10Iowa State at Horejsi. The upset of the Cyclones was the first win over top-10 team in program history.
“We played a competitive non-conference schedule,” Bechard said. “We beat five teams that were in the NCAA tournament and two that made it to the Sweet 16. There are also four teams in the Big 12 still left (Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska), so that obviously goes along with what we already knew… that we play in a really competitive conference.”
With its exciting victory over Oklahoma in Norman on the season’s final day, KU garnered some consideration for the team’s first tournament appearance in five years.
“When you beat a team like that, it’s so disappointing,” Bechard said. “You’re playing so well at the end of the year and you’re not able to continue to compete but the players returning got a very good indication of what level we have to play at and how hard it is.”
Looking at some of those players’ seasons, senior Melissa Manda put her stamp on the KU volleyball program by becoming the school’s all-time digs leader. Her 292 digs this season put her in first place with a total of 1,457, surpassing Jill (Dorsey) Hall who held the record for six seasons with 1,338.
“When you’ve dug more balls in the history of a program, that’s pretty special,” Said Bechard. “She’s been on the floor for us a ton during the last four years, so I think that speaks volumes about Melissa’s attitude and effort.”
“It makes me feel really special,” Manda said. “Just having an opportunity to play all four years and to know that my name will be up there until someone else knocks it down is pretty amazing.”
Senior Karina Garlington was recognized for her play by being named All-Big 12 Team Honorable Mention. The Denver, Colo., native finished the season with an average of 3.51 kills per set and is now second in program history with 1,309 kills.
“Garlington had a tremendous career here,” said Bechard. She was named AVCA National Player of the Week last year as well as Big 12 Player of the Week. We thought she got better in her blocking and some of her releases off the net, so she wasn’t just a one dimensional player. We’ll definitely miss her athleticism.”
Not to be outdone by his players on the court, Head Coach Ray Bechard logged his 200th victory as KU head coach in a match that his Jayhawks took in five sets over Texas A&M on Sept. 18. Bechard is the all-time winningest KU volleyball coach, a title he claimed back in the 2007 season when he passed Frankie Albitz (1985-1993), with his 151st career win.
“It’s great to have coached here that long,” Bechard said. “When you take a job, you never know what it’s going to bring, so to have the opportunity to be here long enough to win 200-matches… that’s significant.”
Bechard and the Jayhawks will look toward 2011 with much promise. That’s because they will return a seasoned upper class with Lauren Hagan, Allison Mayfield and Nicole Tate assuming a larger leadership role as the squad’s seniors next season.
Bechard’s junior class will have yet another year under their belt and will return five players, including middle blockers Caroline Jarmoc, Tayler Tolefree, Taylor Manning, defensive specialist Morgan Boub and outside hitter Catherine Carmichael.
The sophomore squad will be lead by libero Brianne Riley, who dug the eighth-most balls in a Jayhawk single-season with 403, followed by fellow defensive specialist Jamie Matthieu, outside hitters Marianne Beal, Amy Wehrs, setters Erin McNorton and Kara Wehrs as well as middle blocker Jessie Allen.
“We will lose a lot on the outside with Jenna (Kaiser) and Karina (Garlington), but we’ve signed a couple of kids that we’re excited about,” said Coach Bechard. “We’ve also got some players in the program that we feel can step up and make added contributions next season. Now we’re just working hard to get the program to another level where we’re a consistent performer in the Big 12 Conference and the NCAA tournament.”