🏐 European Tour Leads Jayhawks to Italy

MODENA, Italy – After stops in Germany, Hungary, Austria and Slovenia, the Kansas Volleyball Team has reached the final country it will visit on its European Tour: Italy.

Kansas spent three nights and played two matches in Maribor, Slovenia, but the Jayhawks departed on the morning of Thursday, May 30, to head to Italy. The first Italian stop for KU was Venice, where the Jayhawks took a water taxi into town on Thursday afternoon. The team had a few hours to explore the historic area, then gathered as a team for dinner in the heart of the city.

“We have loved Italy so far,” senior Caroline Bien said. “Venice yesterday, Modena today and Lake Como tomorrow. The competition has been great and it has been the coolest experience to see how other countries play and how their play style and customs differ from ours!”

The Jayhawks spent just one night in Venice, departing on Friday morning for Modena, which was the site of KU’s first of two competitions in Italy. First, however, the Jayhawks got to Modena around midday and dispersed to enjoy a couple of hours of sightseeing, while also having the chance to have lunch in the city.

“We traveled to Modena to start the day,” freshman Kenzie Dean said. “We ate at a little restaurant, then walked around and found some cute shops. After some shopping, the team made it to the hotel and got some rest before our game. We played a very competitive match against Volley Modena. It was an elevated pace, but everyone stepped up to play their role. After a fun match, the day ended with a team dinner.

Once settled, the Jayhawks locked in for competition against B1 Volley Modena, which was played at Pala Molza in Modena. The teams played four sets in the match, which ended in a 2-2 split. Kansas led early in each of the first two sets, but Modena rallied to win the first 25-22 and took the second 25-17 to build a 2-0 lead. The Jayhawks fought back, however, and won the next two sets convincingly by scores of 25-15 an 25-16 to split the day’s competition.

“It’s pretty typical that later in a tour like this that we’re not quite as fresh physically or mentally,” Kansas Coach Ray Bechard said following the match. “That certainly showed in the first two sets even though we had our opportunities, but we responded and got a little bit better as the match went along against a really quality team.”

As his team turns the page, Bechard looks forward to the opportunity for his team to battle through travel and fatigue to still compete at a high level.

“It’s like we’re going through two-a-days,” Bechard added. “We’re going hard all day trying to see as many sites as possible, then we expect a decent level of execution in these matches. I think it’s a really good exercise in learning to execute when the body doesn’t really feel as good as we hoped it would.”

As the calendar turns to June, the Jayhawks will again be on the road. The travel party will depart Modena on Saturday morning, heading to Milan, where they will arrive via Lake Como. In Milan, the Jayhawks will have nearly two full days of sightseeing before playing the final match of the European Tour on Sunday afternoon.

Match Schedule
Subject to change

May 24 – vs. Vasas Óbuda (Budapest, Hungary) – Kansas 3, Vasas 1
May 25 – vs. Vasas Óbuda (Budapest, Hungary) – Kansas 3, Vasas 0
May 28 – vs. Slovenia U20 (Maribor, Slovenia) – Kansas 3, Slovenia 0
May 29 – vs. Slovenia U20 (Maribor, Slovenia) – Kansas, Slovenia 0
May 31 – vs. B1 Volley Modena (Modena, Italy) – Kansas 2, Volley Modena 2
June 2 – vs. Italian Federation Team (Milan, Italy)