No. 11 Kansas volleyball ready for Oklahoma Saturday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas volleyball (15-2, 4-0 Big 12) plays its second-straight Big 12 road match with a visit to Norman, Oklahoma, on Saturday to face the Sooners (4-13, 1-3) at 7 p.m. Central.
• Oklahoma leads the all-time series with Kansas, 48-37, but the Jayhawks have won eight of the last 10 matchups, including five straight.
• Kansas is 23-1 in the last 24 Big 12 contests, including a program-record 18-straight conference wins.
• Last time out, Kansas defeated West Virginia in four sets on Wednesday night in Morgantown. Madison Rigdon led the Jayhawks with 17 kills, including eight in the first set alone.
• With 4,705 career assists, Ainise Havili is 68 assists away from setting KU’s career assists record.
• Kansas has three wins against teams ranked in the AVCA Coaches Poll and a 6-1 record against teams currently in the top-50 of the NCAA RPI.
• In KU’s 38th-straight appearance in the AVCA Coaches Poll, the Jayhawks are ranked No. 11.
• Kansas has earned four of the six Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week nods so far this season, including Havili’s second honor of the season on Monday.
• Kansas leads the Big 12 in kills per set (14.73) and assists per set (13.80).
• Since the start of the 2015 season, Kansas has the highest winning percentage in the country (.900). The Jayhawks are 71-8 in the last three seasons.
Kansas and Oklahoma meet for the 86th time on Saturday in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners lead the all-time series, 48-37, but Kansas has won eight of the last 10 matchups, including five straight. Since Big 12 play began in 1996, the Jayhawks hold a 28-14 series lead. Since head coach Ray Bechard arrived in 1998 KU is 26-10 against OU.
Last season, Kansas swept the series over Oklahoma with a conference-opening straight-set victory in Lawrence (Sept. 21) and a four-set win in Norman (Nov. 5).
Led by 14th-year head coach Santiago Restrepo, Oklahoma enters Saturday with a 4-13 record and a 1-3 mark during Big 12 play. On Wednesday, the Sooners picked up an NCAA RPI top-50 win over Texas Tech (No. 49) in three sets. In its three Big 12 losses, OU pushed K-State to five sets at home and lost in four sets on the road to No. 18 Iowa State and Baylor.
Alyssa Enneking leads Oklahoma with 4.11 kills per set and 4.52 points per set — both values rank third in the Big 12 behind KU’s Kelsie Payne.
Live audio of Saturday’s match will be available on KUAthletics.com/radio with Nick Lewis calling play-by-play.
LAST TIME OUT
Kansas defeated West Virginia in four sets on Wednesday night in Morgantown (28-26, 25-22, 17-25, 25-17). The Jayhawks improved to 6-1 against teams in the top-50 of the NCAA RPI this season — WVU is No. 43 in the RPI. The Jayhawks limited WVU to a .255 attacking clip and to under its Big 12-leading season average of 1.60 aces per set (four total). Madison Rigdon led the Jayhawks with 17 kills, including eight in the first set alone, adding 11 digs for her eighth double-double of the season. Libero Allie Nelson captained KU’s back row defense with 21 digs, while Rigdon led KU in blocks (three) for the second-straight match.
WATCH FOR MMACHI
Middle blocker Mmachi Nwoke (pronounced mah-CHEE WHOA-kay) provided a late spark for Kansas in a four-set road victory at West Virginia on Wednesday. Nwoke, a first-year sophomore came off the bench to produce six kills on a .556 hitting percentage in just over one set played.
Prior to Wednesday’s contest, Nwoke had played in just three sets all season for the Jayhawks with three kills and two blocks.
HAVILI APPROACHING HISTORY
Senior All-American setter Ainise Havili is on the cusp of making history at KU.
With 4,705 career assists, Havili is 68 assists away from passing Andi Rozum and setting KU’s career assists record. Rozum (2002-05) ended her career with 4,772 assists. For Havili, 68 assists at Oklahoma would be one better than her career-high 67 assists recorded in five sets at Texas in 2015. So the record-breaking moment for the four-year starting setter may not come Saturday, but it is highly-probable to come in the next few matches.
Kansas has a 6-1 record against teams currently ranked in the top-50 of the NCAA RPI. The six wins includes one top-10 victory and three road victories.
The Jayhawks have already tied a program record for wins in a season (three) against teams ranked in the top-25 of the AVCA Coaches Poll at the time of the match. The Jayhawks are 3-1 against ranked teams with wins over No. 13 Kentucky, No. 17 Purdue and No. 18 Iowa State. KU previously notched three top-25 wins in 2003 and 2012.
BIG 12 WINNING STREAK
Kansas has won the last 18 matches against Big 12 opponents entering Saturday’s contest at Oklahoma. It is the longest conference winning streak in program history for the Jayhawks. Additionally, Kansas is 23-1 in the last 24 Big 12 contests.
It has been over a full calendar year since KU last lost a Big 12 match — Sept. 24, 2016 at then-No. 5 Texas.
Through the years, Kansas has steadily gained success in conference play. In 2003, KU’s first-ever conference winning streak of four matches or longer was started with victories over then-No. 25 Missouri and a road win at Texas. The next season in 2004, KU rattled off four-in-a-row during a stretch that included two wins over a top-15 Texas A&M squad.
From 2011 to 2013, KU pieced together a pair of Big 12 winning streaks that lasted six and seven matches, respectively.
KU’s previous record for the longest Big 12 winning streak was nine matches from the end of the 2014 season to the beginning of league play in 2015.
All eight of KU’s Big 12 winning streaks of four matches or longer have ended with losses to top-25 teams.
Kansas remained at No. 11 in the AVCA Coaches Poll on Monday, Oct. 2. The reigning Big 12 champion Jayhawks have been ranked 38-straight times in the AVCA poll. KU’s season-high No. 7 ranking came on Sept. 4.
In the first NCAA Rating Percentage Index (RPI) released on Monday, the Jayhawks debuted at No. 11.
The Big 12 features three of its nine teams ranked in the top-25, including No. 11 Kansas, No. 5 Texas and No. 20 Iowa State. Baylor has received votes in each poll this season.
Rankings breakdown on page 4
BIG 12 LEADERS
Kansas leads the Big 12 in kills per set (14.73) and assists per set (13.80), while ranking second in hitting percentage (.274) and third in digs per set (15.82). Ainise Havili leads the Big 12 and ranks fifth in the nation in assists per set (12.00). Kelsie Payne ranks second in the league both kills per set (4.26) and points per set (4.64). Madison Rigdon ranks second in the Big 12 in aces per set (0.35) and fourth in both kills per set (3.65) and points per set (4.31).
Havili has the most assists by a Big 12 player in a match this season (63 at NC State, Aug. 26). Sophomore libero Allie Nelson has the most digs by a Big 12 player in a four-set match (28 vs. Missouri State, Aug. 26).
COUNTRY’S TOP WINNING PERCENTAGE SINCE 2015
Since the start of the 2015 season, Kansas has the highest winning percentage in the country (.900). The Jayhawks are 72-8 in the last three seasons.
Senior setter Ainise Havili has recorded an assist-dig double-double in 14 of KU’s 17 matches this season. The Jayhawks combine for 10 kill-dig double-doubles this season as senior outside hitter Madison Rigdon has eight and senior right-side hitter Kelsie Payne has three.
In addition to Ainise Havili quickly approaching KU’s career assists record, fellow senior All-Americans Kelsie Payne and Madison Rigdon are on pace to rewrite KU’s record books this season as well.
Payne ranks first in career hitting percentage (.350), second in career kills (1,359) and 12th in career blocks (310). She now needs 124 more kills to tie the current record of 1,483 held by Josi Lima (2002-05). Last season Payne became the 15th Jayhawk to reach 1,000 kills — she is the only pin hitter in KU history with 1,000 kills and a hitting percentage of .300 or higher. On Sept. 15 against San Jose State, she became the 13th Jayhawk to reach 300 blocks.
Rigdon ranks 14th in career kills (1,121) and is third in career aces (130). Rigdon became the 16th Jayhawk to reach the century mark in career kills with 15 against Purdue (Sept. 8).
Havili stands second in career assists (4,705) and seventh in career digs (1,151). With 99 service aces, Havili is an ace away from joining Rigdon and becoming the 18th Jayhawk to reach 100 career aces. She passed the 4,000-assist mark with 43 assists against Missouri State (Aug. 26). Andi Rozum (2002-05) currently holds KU’s career assists record with 4,772. Havili became the 14th all-time Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career digs with 14 against NC State (Aug. 26).
BECHARD IN 20th SEASON
Ray Bechard is in his 20th season as head coach of Kansas volleyball this season. During his tenure as the leader of the program, Bechard has become the winningest coach in program history while charting an unprecedented era of success. The western Kansas native has recruited and coached all nine of KU’s AVCA All-Americans and has more than 1,000 career victories in his 33-year head coaching career at Barton County Community College (1985-97) and KU (1998-present).
Kansas plays host to No. 5 Texas on Wednesday, Oct. 11 inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center. ESPNU will televise the match starting at 8 p.m. Central time.
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