Kansas Volleyball | Spring Practice Recap

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Following spring workouts, Kansas volleyball turns its focus on its first foreign tour since 2015. The Jayhawks are scheduled to travel to seven cities in Europe, while playing against local competition.

KU’s incoming class of four freshmen — ranked No. 12 in the nation by PrepVolleyball — will add to a group of experienced returners. KU’s roster features three seniors – Zoe Hill, Allie Nelson and Ashley Smith.

KUAthletics.com sat down with Ray Bechard, who enters his 22nd season as head coach of the Jayhawks this fall, to get the scoop on how spring workouts went.

Most impressed with this spring …
From beginning to end we made a lot of improvements in a lot of different areas. Our first competition was not pretty because we weren’t very good in any phases of the game. We took a significant jump from the first competition to the second competition. Most importantly we improved our offensive efficiency. It was exciting to see the new information from staff not only being conveyed but implemented.

Outlook on the setters …
It was Camryn (Ennis) this spring. Unfortunately, she got dinged up towards the end of spring.  I thought she got a lot better on the understanding of how we want to manage the game and decision making. She made good progress and it will benefit us to have Sara (Nielsen) here this summer.

Caroline Jarmoc slapped hands with Brianne Riley.

Outlook on the pin hitters …
If there is a position we are a little short in depth, it would be our outside hitters. Ashley (Smith) was great and it is interesting that a kid that has been here four years can make as good of a jump as anybody. She really applied new information this spring and made a significant progress in a number of areas.  Gracie (Van Driel) had an opportunity to be both a middle blocker and a pin hitter this spring, while Kailea (Carrier) is coming back from her redshirt year got some valuable opportunities.  Rachel (Hickman) is a lefty and trained mostly on the right side.  Getting her and Gracie here early allowed them to acclimate to the speed and physicality of volleyball at this level.

Outlook on the middle blockers …
Zoe (Hill) and Rachel (Langs) were both really good this spring. I think one of the performance gaps we were able to close this spring was how we get the ball to our middles in transition. We created opportunities for that to happen. Gracie (Van Driel) also got some valuable experience in the middle too. It was one of our strengths going through the spring.

Outlook on defensive specialists …
Allie (Nelson) was outstanding this spring. The urgency in how she is approaching each and every day and how she is leading and communicating from the libero position is paramount for this team.  We saw moments from Jacqui (Mostrom) this spring that we are excited about. Lacey (Angello) is doing a good job adapting to playing multiple back-row positions.  This spring has been beneficial for Audri (Suter) because last summer was really a blur for her. She came in July and was thrown right into the fire in August. Things slowed down for her and skill acquisition for her has developed at a steady rate.

Outlook on the addition of Kaitlin Nielsen to the staff …
Kaitlin (Nielsen) brings a new perspective to our program. Not only a coaches perspective, but a players perspective as well. She played at a high level. Her and Billy (Ebel) had a seamless transition working with each other and complement each other very well. We feel really fortunate to have the coaches we have working with our student-athletes.

On team leadership …
Allie (Nelson), Zoe (Hill) and Ashley (Smith) have all sensed that as you transition through your career more is expected of you in how you impact others. I feel like they are ready to take on a larger role as they enter their senior seasons.

On the new facility …
We have gone from a muddy mess to an enclosed structure. There has been a tremendous amount of effort by the people involved, and I am thankful for all they have done. I was excited the last time we were in the facility because the building is starting to take shape and you can start to see where different things are going to be.  I think it is going to be a great facility for our athletes to compete in and for our fans to enjoy.

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