No. 11 Kansas volleyball visits West Virginia Wednesday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 11 Kansas volleyball (14-2, 3-0 Big 12) begins a two-match road swing on Wednesday with a visit to Morgantown, West Virginia, to face a much-improved Mountaineers team. Entering Wednesday’s match, West Virginia (12-4, 1-2) has already matched its total wins from 2016, while Kansas looks to extend a 17-match winning streak against Big 12 opponents.
• Kansas leads the all-time series with West Virginia, 12-0.
• West Virginia (12-4) has four losses, including three against current top-10 teams — No. 3 Minnesota, No. 5 Texas and No. 6 Penn State.
• Kansas is 22-1 in the last 23 Big 12 contests, including a program-record 17-straight conference wins.
• Kansas has already tied a program record for wins in a season against teams ranked in the top-25 of the AVCA Coaches Poll (three).
• Last time out, Kansas recorded a .386 hitting percentage to defeat TCU in straight sets on Oct. 30 in Lawrence. It was the highest hitting percentage for KU in a Big 12 match since hitting .597 against West Virginia on Oct. 3, 2015.
• 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 Ainise Havili’s second honor of the season on Monday.
• Kansas leads the Big 12 in kills per set (14.77) and assists per set (13.87), while ranking second in digs per set (15.87) and hitting percentage (.274).
• Since the start of the 2015 season, Kansas has the highest winning percentage in the country (.897). The Jayhawks are 70-8 in the last three seasons.
Kansas leads the all-time series with West Virginia, 12-0. The series dates back to a 1999 noconference matchup in Morgantown that Kansas won in four sets. KU and WVU have met 10 times since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012.
The last time the teams met (Nov. 16, 2016), the Mountaineers took the fourth-ranked Jayhawks to five sets in Morgantown. KU prevailed with a 15-8 win in the fifth. All-American Kelsie Payne played just two sets before exiting the match with a minor ankle injury that forced her to miss the follow match against Iowa State, which KU went on to defeat the Cyclones to clinch its first-ever conference title.
Led by third-year head coach Reed Sunahara, WVU enters Wednesday with a 12-4 record and 1-2 record during Big 12 play. Three of WVU’s four losses are against current top-10 teams — No. 3 Minnesota, No. 5 Texas and No. 6 Penn State.
West Virginia leads the Big 12 in aces per set (1.30) and ranks top-50 in the country in attacking percentage (49th; .251) and opponent attack percentage (36th; .165). Sophomore outside hitter Payton Caffrey leads the Big 12 in aces per set (0.49) and ranks seventh in the Big 12 in points per set (3.95).
Live audio of Wednesday’s match will be available on KUAthletics.com/radio with Nick Lewis calling play-by-play.
BIG 12 WINNING STREAK
Kansas has won the last 17 matches against Big 12 opponents entering Wednesday’s contest at West Virginia. It is the longest conference winning streak in program history for the Jayhawks. Additionally, Kansas is 22-1 in the last 23 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.
Seven of KU’s last 10 Big 12 regular season matches have lasted five sets. The Jayhawks opened 2017 Big 12 play with back-to-back five-set victories at K-State (Sept. 24) and against No. 18 Iowa State (Sept. 27). Kansas earned the pair of victories after rallying from a 1-2 deficit at K-State and a 0-2 deficit against Iowa State.
Kansas has already tied a program record for wins in a season against teams ranked in the top-25 of the AVCA Coaches Poll. 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.
LAST TIME OUT
Kansas turned in an efficient performance during a straight-set victory against TCU last Saturday to earn its 17th-straight win over a Big 12 opponent. The Jayhawks swung for a .386 hitting percentage and held TCU to a .130 clip during the last two sets. Kansas was led by pin hitters Kelsie Payne (11 kills), Madison Rigdon (10) and Jada Burse (nine), who combined for 30 of KU’s 45 kills. Ainise Havili recorded 39 assists on the way to directing KU’s offense to the second-highest hitting percentage (.386) of the season and the highest during Big 12 play since posting an astronomical .597 clip against West Virginia on Oct. 3, 2015.
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.
The Jayhawks feature a 3-1 record against current top-25 teams this season, including wins over No. 10 Kentucky, No. 18 Purdue and No. 20 Iowa State.
BIG 12 LEADERS
Kansas leads the Big 12 in kills per set (14.77) and assists per set (13.87), while ranking second in digs per set (15.87) and hitting percentage (.274). Ainise Havili leads the Big 12 and ranks fifth in the nation in assists per set (11.97). Kelsie Payne ranks second in the league both kills per set (4.34) and points per set (4.75). Madison Rigdon ranks second in the Big 12 in aces per set (0.35) and fourth in both kills per set (3.61) and points per set (4.27).
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 (.899). The Jayhawks are 71-8 in the last three seasons.
Senior setter Ainise Havili has recorded an assist-dig double-double in 13 of KU’s 16 matches this season. The Jayhawks combine for 10 kill-dig double-doubles this season as senior outside hitter Madison Rigdon has seven and senior right-side hitter Kelsie Payne has three.
Senior All-Americans Kelsie Payne, Ainise Havili and Madison Rigdon are on pace to rewrite KU’s record books this season.
Havili stands second in career assists (4,655) and eighth in career digs (1,151). 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).
Payne ranks first in career hitting percentage (.351), second in career kills (1,347) and 12th in career blocks (310). She now needs 136 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. On Sept. 15 against San Jose State, she became the 13th Jayhawk to reach 300 blocks.
Rigdon ranks 14th in career kills (1,104) and is third in career aces (129). Rigdon became the 16th Jayhawk to reach the century mark in career kills with 15 against Purdue (Sept. 8).
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).
FOUR BIG 12 OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Senior setter Ainise Havili was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season on Oct. 2 after standout performances during victories over No. 18 Iowa State and TCU.
Kansas has earned four of the six Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week nods so far this season. In the first three weeks of the regular season, Kansas took home the honor with setter outside hitter Madison Rigdon (Sept. 11), right-side hitter Kelsie Payne (Sept. 4) and setter Ainise Havili (Aug. 28) honored by the Big 12.
Since the Big 12 began awarding offensive players of the week in 2007, there have been only three times when a team has earned three-straight Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors from three different players. Kansas has done it the last two times in 2013 and 2017.
Havili led Kansas to highly-efficient offensive performances against some of top defensive teams in the league as the Jayhawks won their 16th- and 17th-consecutive Big 12 matches. During week six of the regular season, Havili led the Big 12 in assists per set (12.38) and guided KU’s offense to a .302 hitting percentage.
Rigdon earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors after becoming the 16th Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career kills and given Kansas Invitational All-Tournament Team honors after helping lead the Jayhawks to a pair of top-20 wins during week three of the season.
Payne was named MVP of the Wolverine Invitational, averaging 4.80 kills per set on a .389 hitting percentage as Kansas worked its way to a 6-0 start for the third-straight season.
Havili was named the first Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week of the 2017 season after leading the Jayhawks to the Wolfpack Invitational title with a 3-0 record while averaging 12.31 assists per set and 4.15 digs per set. The Fort Worth, Texas, native was named MVP of the season-opening event after posting three-straight double-doubles.
In the second leg of a two-match road swing, Kansas travels to a Norman, Oklahoma to face the Sooners on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. Central.
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