2012 in Review: Rewriting the Record Books
Dec. 19, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A season of unprecedented success made the 2012 campaign one to remember as the Jayhawks posted the winningest record in program history, earned a national seed in the NCAA Tournament, witnessed the team’s first All-America honor and shared in the excitement of two Coach of the Year awards.
– The 2012 Jayhawks became the winningest team in program history, finishing the season with a 26-7 overall record for a .788 winning percentage, topping the previous best set in 1986 (26-9, .743).
– Kansas posted its highest conference finish in the Big 12 era (12-4, 3rd place) after being voted to finish sixth in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll. – KU’s 17 home wins were the most in a single season by the Jayhawks, while the 13-match winning streak at home was also a program best.
– The Jayhawks finished 2012 in the program’s top-five for single-season: kills (1,738, 5th), attack percentage (.238, 4th), assists (1,624, 4th) and block assists (492, 2nd).
– Fittingly, KU’s season numbers also checked in highly among its Big 12 and NCAA counterparts: 13.20 assists per set (2nd Big 12, 30th NCAA), 2.62 blocks per set (2nd Big 12, 31st NCAA), 14.13 kills per set (3rd Big 12, 34th NCAA), .238 attack percentage (4th Big 12, 57th NCAA), 16.07 digs per set (2nd Big 12, 90th NCAA) and a .788 winning percentage (2nd Big 12, T-22nd NCAA).
– Redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc became the first Jayhawk in history to record 400 kills (424) and 150 blocks (157) in a season. Next season, the Calgary, Alberta, Canada native has the opportunity to be the program’s only player to record 200 kills and 100 blocks in four-straight seasons.
– Jarmoc also broke KU’s single-season attack percentage record (.386) and holds the career record (.330) heading into her senior season.
– Junior libero Brianne Riley became Kansas’ all-time digs leader in only three years, surpassing former record holder Melissa Manda (1,457) in the last match of the regular season. Riley now has 1,498 digs heading into her senior season. She also broke the single-season mark (613), becoming the only Jayhawk to record 600+ digs in one year.
– Junior setter Erin McNorton racked up a Big 12-best 1,443 assists. After not starting a match until 2012, McNorton finished the year ranked seventh in the country in assists per set (11.73).
Kansas opened the season at the Arkansas Invitational, where the Jayhawks racked up two wins before falling in their first true road test against tournament-host Arkansas, 3-1. The Razorbacks would go on to remain in the top-30 in the RPI for the majority of the season and would eventually be the No. 2 seed in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament that Kansas hosted, Nov. 30-Dec. 1.
The early loss sparked a hot streak as KU went on a nine-match winning spree, tying the fourth-longest in program history. The Jayhawks knocked off eventual NCAA Tournament teams Tulsa, College of Charleston and Arizona State en route to winning the Kansas Volleyball Invitational and the Jayhawk Invitational in back-to-back weekends. Against the Sun Devils, Jarmoc hit a Big 12 Conference record .824 in a four-set match (min. 12 kills).
In the final weekend of pre-conference tournaments, Kansas traveled to the Golden Dome Invitational hosted by Notre Dame, Sept. 14-16. KU defeated Loyola-Marymount, another NCAA Tournament team, as well as Xavier to extend its win streak to nine. In their first meeting since 1986, the Jayhawks and the Fighting Irish played four sets with neither side winning by more than three points, but Notre Dame ultimately won it, 3-1, snapping the win streak. UND would go on to receive an NCAA Tournament bid, as well.
Many Jayhawks earned All-Tournament honors, but Jarmoc earned Tournament MVP three times and an All-Tournament nod once. In the past two seasons, Jarmoc has been named to eight-straight All-Tournament teams.
In the last tune-up before Big 12 play, the Jayhawks welcomed Creighton to the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. The Blue Jays were receiving votes at the time and eventually an NCAA Tournament bid. What resulted was the first five-set match of the year, which Kansas hung on to win for head coach Ray Bechard’s950th career victory. In 2012, KU was a dominant 4-1 in five-set matches.
After a strong non-conference slate, Kansas prepared to take its confident mentality into the Big 12 that earned the No. 1 Conference RPI ranking in the previous season. The Jayhawks proceeded to post a program-best 5-0 start to open the Big 12 schedule, knocking off No. 19 Iowa State and an Oklahoma squad receiving votes on the road. During the match at Oklahoma, junior libero Brianne Rileycame up with a Big 12 record 43 digs to help top the Sooners. After defeating the Cyclones, the Jayhawks debuted at No. 24 on the AVCA Division I Coaches Poll on Oct. 1, marking the first national ranking since the 2005 season.
When No. 21 Kansas and No. 9 Texas met for the first time in 2012, both went in undefeated. The Longhorns took the season’s first meeting, 3-0, the only sweep KU suffered all season.
Again a loss sparked a hot streak for Kansas. The Jayhawks bounced back to upset No. 14 Kansas State at home and then defeated TCU in their first contest as conference opponents. After enduring a four-set loss on the road at No. 22 Iowa State, KU returned home to sweep West Virginia in a match that saw senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefreehit 1.000 for a match in the first time in program history.
The Jayhawks offset a loss at Baylor with a comeback victory at No. 16 Kansas State. The Wildcats defeated Kansas 25-13 in the first set before KU roared back to take the next three sets – all without starting libero Brianne Riley. An injury prompted the junior to snap a 63-consecutive matches started streak.
Sweeping the season series against Kansas State gave the KU-Texas matchup in Lawrence added meaning as the two met as the league’s first and second-place teams for the first time that late in the season. The teams put on a show for the sold-out crowd, before KU fell in the fifth set, 15-12, to the eventual national champions. Kansas would not lose again in the regular season as the Jayhawks swept Oklahoma, TCU, Saint Louis and Texas Tech to close out the year.
When Selection Sunday came, the season’s success brought the Jayhawks a No. 11 overall seed – the first national seed in the Jayhawks’ history – and with it, the rights to host the first and second rounds. The Horejsi Family Athletics Center did not have the required capacity, so the Jayhawks moved to Allen Fieldhouse, the home of Kansas volleyball until the 1999 season.
Jayhawk nation responded. More than 3,500 fans came out to watch KU defeat Cleveland State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament and nearly 4,500 fans turned out to watch Kansas take on Wichita State – for the best attendance among all the first and second round host sites. The two battled for either team’s first trip to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, but it was the Shockers who prevailed. KU ended its historical season with a 3-1 loss and a 26-7 record – the winningest season in program history.
HEAD COACH Ray Bechard
On what stood out the most to him after a record-breaking season:
“It was a confidence that developed in `winning time’. A lot of times you can get a sense of how your team feels or what you think their reaction will be under duress, and as the season went along and we got into five-set matches, you could tell that our team was confident that they could win. They were confident in their preparation, they were confident in each other and I think that’s a really positive sign for a coach to see that. That perpetuates itself and generates this program `swag’ and confidence that’s really cool to see. That’s such a far different emotion and a huge deal for our program.”
On the impact of a 26-7 record:
“We had nine wins against NCAA Tournament teams, so it’s a legit schedule. You look at the RPI and see top-10 and you don’t even legitimately acknowledge it while it’s going on. You’re thinking about if you’re going to pass the ball to target, are we going to do this, are we going to do that. Looking back on it, 26-7 is a pretty cool record to have; 12 wins against the Big 12 and even in the five-set loss to Texas I think we grew as a team. Each day I think you realize that this team did some really cool things for the first time and created some opportunities within the program that we’ve really never had before.”
On his answer when asked what caused the turnaround:
“I talk about a shift in experience. We were a majority of underclassmen last year and we were a majority of upperclassmen this year. The emergence of Erin McNortonwas huge. The emergence of (Tayler) Tolefree and (Caroline) Jarmoc taking their game to another level was big, but we were 4-1 in five-set matches and last year, that record was probably a little bit different. I just think that the team sensed that they were tired of being close, tired of the `we could’ve, we should’ve’ and through the spring and summer, we created some opportunities to grow – to gain an inch wherever they could. It was in our notebooks and we worked on it every day.”
On the slew of individual records set by the Jayhawks:
“To have a record-breaking year, people have to have record-breaking performances. Bri (Riley) stepped up, (Caroline) Jarmoc, (Tayler) Tolefree, Erin McNorton – all of them stepped up. I think Jarmoc and Tolefree were the best middle pair in the Big 12. Then Erin comes in and does her thing, gives a hittable ball, and then there’s times where we needed Catherine Carmichael to be good or we don’t win on the road at Oklahoma. Then Chelsea Alberssteps up and has a couple of big matches at home for us, (Tiana) Dockery had big matches, too. We weren’t so dependent on one player. If one player wasn’t playing well, we had a chance for someone else to come through. We set goals individually and as a group and our players took those very seriously.”
On Caroline Jarmoc being named the program’s first All-American:
“She’s worked hard, first and foremost. She’s set goals for herself and that’s ok to set individual goals for yourself – and I’m sure being an All-American was one of them. She’ll be the first to admit that if we don’t win 26 matches or have a great year, then it would be difficult for her, but we did and she was a huge part of that.”
On Caroline Jarmoc breaking KU’s season and career attack percentage records:
“For a middle to hit at that efficiency, you have to be high-kill, low-error (every time out). What’s most impressive about that is that she continued to put up those numbers even after they knew she was good and they were game planning around her. That’s a high number. Of the records we have at Kansas, I thought our hitting efficiency number was one that could be broken and now she’s set that bar really high.”
On being winning the Big 12 and AVCA Central Region Coach of the Year awards:
“As a coach you always want to feel like you’re making an impact, and when you hear we’re selected to play in the NCAA Tournament – that’s the biggest thrill. When that happens, there’s obviously some other things that could also happen. Our staff worked hard. I think awards like this are a reflection of how hard our staff worked, and I’m sure we’d have some assistant coaches of the year if there was such a thing in the Big 12. It still comes down to if we were 7-26, there isn’t going to be a Coach of the Year award. We all worked together to get this team in a position to succeed. Jarmoc would be the first to say, you don’t make All-American without a great setter, and I say you don’t get Coach of the Year without a great coaching staff and team to go to work with every day.”
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.