Jayhawks ready for Europe Trip
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas volleyball team gets an early opportunity to start preparation for the 2019 season this summer as they travel to Europe for practice, international competition and a cultural experience.
“The opportunity to go on a foreign trip every four years is a benefit for our team and our program,” said Kansas head volleyball coach Ray Bechard. “This year we have all of our newcomers joining us on the trip and it will be extremely valuable to have players get opportunities to bond with teammates and play together.”
The Jayhawks leave for their seven-city, four-country Europe Tour May 19 and return to the United States May 31. Kansas is slated to play matches against national teams and local competition.
“We as a coaching staff are excited about the opportunity to practice, train, play matches and have our team bond while we are in Europe,” Bechard said. “It comes at a really good time for this team because we have key members coming in that will play a vital role in this season and our future teams at Kansas.”
Joining the Jayhawks from the 2018 squad in Europe are spring newcomers Gracie Van Driel and Rachel Hickman, who were able start their college journey in January of 2019. The duo will be joined by Riley Foltz, Morgan Christon and transfer Sara Nielsen.
Other than experience the European culture and rich history in Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Italy, Kansas is slated to play matches against national teams and local competition.
“The itinerary for the trip is going to provide a great cultural experience but we are also going to play high-level competition,” stated Bechard.
This is the first journey out of the United States for KU volleyball since the 2015 summer, which proved beneficial later that year in NCAA competition.
“Four years ago in 2015 we were able to go on a foreign tour that was a springboard for the greatest season in Kansas volleyball history,” Bechard said. “As we went through that trip we saw teammates hanging out with different teammates and getting to know each other each in a deeper and more important level.”
KU reached its first-ever Final Four appearance in 2015 and finished with a 30-3 record. The Jayhawks finished ranked No. 4 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association National Poll, which was the highest finish in program history.
“Though you can’t correlate the events from 2015 to 2019, you hope there is some carry over in similar ways for this team, and the opportunity they are getting to bond and play this summer,” Bechard said.
Kansas departs for Europe May 19 and arrives back in Lawrence on May 31. Fans can follow along with the tour on KUAthletics.com and on Kansas volleyball social media platforms.