🏐 Jayhawks Tour Milan, Face Italy U22 Team on Final Day in Europe

MILAN, Italy – The Kansas Volleyball Team’s European Tour is nearing its conclusion after the Jayhawks toured Milan and played their final match of the trip on Sunday, June 2nd.

The Jayhawks arrived in Milan on Saturday and had dinner in the city but returned to the city center on Sunday morning for further shopping and touring. The team took a tram into the city, where they were dropped off near the Sforzesco Castle, which is located just outside the historic center of the city.

Following a photo opportunity at the castle, the Jayhawks proceeded to the center of town, which included a scenic walk up to Duomo di Milano, also known as the Milan Cathedral. The cathedral is the largest church in the Italian Republic and the third largest in the world. From the duomo, players, coaches and staff were given a few hours to tour, shop and eat near the heart of Milan.

“Today we went sightseeing in Milan,” sophomore Raegan Burns said. “We saw the Duomo di Milano, the biggest Catholic church in Milan, and did some great shopping. In the evening, we played the Italian U22 team. They were the best competition of the tour yet. It was an exciting game and a great opportunity to get better. We finished the night having dinner with the Italian Federation team and celebrating Coach B’s birthday. A great ending to a great trip!”

From there, the Jayhawks returned to their hotel to prepare for the evening match, which was against a talented Italian U22 National Team that is preparing for the upcoming European Championship. The Italian team is based out of Milan and comprised of professional players who have been selected to train and compete in the championship tournament in July.

“We ran into a team that’s one of the top under-22 teams in the world and they’re training at a high peak,” Kansas Coach Ray Bechard said after the match. “We learned a lot about who we are tonight. One of our goals on this trip was to become a better serving team and we saw a team that served aggressive at all six spots and that was the difference in the match.”

For the second straight day, a member of the travel party celebrated a birthday. On Sunday it was Bechard himself who was given a cake by the team following the match. This fall will be Bechard’s 27th on the Kansas sideline and 40th as a head coach overall. Kansas welcomes a six-player freshman class that is the highest rated class in school history, while returning four All-Big 12 selections from 2023, headlined by All-America setter Camryn Turner.

“Cam Turner, she competes hard each and every time,” Bechard said. “We played everybody tonight and I liked the enthusiasm and energy. I thought we team mated hard and played well, just ran into a team that’s peaking at the right time. Italy is one of the better teams in the world at their age division.”

“Today we played a very good match against an amazing team,” senior Toyosi Onabanjo said. “The game against the Italian U22 team was the perfect game to close off our trip. As a team, we learned a lot about ourselves through this match and as we head into summer training, we know exactly what we need to work on for this upcoming fall. Everyone is super excited to get back in the gym to continue our training back in Lawrence. Rock Chalk!”

The final leg of the 2024 European Tour is the return trip to Kansas, which begins on Monday. The Jayhawks will depart from Milan in the middle of the afternoon, with an estimated arrival time in Lawrence of around midnight.