No. 14 Kansas volleyball hosts West Virginia for Senior Day, regular-season finale

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – On Saturday afternoon, Kansas volleyball fans will say goodbye to an unforgettable group of seven seniors.

Before Saturday’s Senior Day match against West Virginia, Kansas will recognize Tori Miller, Kayla Cheadle, Kelsie Payne, Taylor Alexander, Ainise Havili, Madison Rigdon and Addison Barry as the group plays their final regular-season match at Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

KU’s prolific group of seniors will be remembered for their unprecedented contributions to the program. During the last four years, Kansas has tallied 101 victories, advanced to the Final Four and captured a Big 12 regular-season title, and the slew of record-breaking individual recognition — so far — includes six AVCA All-America honors, Big 12 Player of the Year, two Big 12 Setter of the Year, six All-Big 12 nods and seven Academic All-Big 12.

“Each Senior Day is special,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “Just the sheer volume of the group this year is a little bit overwhelming. Then you break-down all the great moments they have been involved with — it’s significant. Certainly, we will celebrate that. The most important thing about a Senior Day is that you play well and win — that’s what our seniors will remember the most.”

• In the last four years, Kansas is 101-21 (.828).
• Kansas is 13-0 in the series against West Virginia.  
• The Jayhawks have won at least 20 overall matches and at least 10 Big 12 matches in the last six seasons, from 2012 to 2017.
• KU is 30-5 in its last 35 Big 12 contests.
• KU’s .255 hitting percentage this season is the second-highest clip in program history.
• The 14th-ranked Jayhawks have been ranked in the AVCA Coaches Poll 44-straight times.
• Kansas has five wins over teams currently ranked the AVCA Coaches Poll.
• Kelsie Payne needs just one kill to set KU’s all-time record for career kills, entering Saturday with 1,483 career kills, which is tied with Josi Lima (2002-05) at the top of KU’s record book.
• Ainise Havili holds KU’s career assists record (5,155) and leads the Big 12 in assists per set this season (11.50).
• Madison Rigdon leads Kansas in kills per set during Big 12 play (3.70).  
• Four different Jayhawks have earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week awards.
• Head coach Ray Bechard is in his 20th season at Kansas. The four-time Big 12 Coach of the Year is the winningest coach in Kansas volleyball history.
• The University of Kansas and Kansas Athletics announced on Sept. 22 plans to construct a new 3,000-seat volleyball arena thanks to the generosity of the Stewart Horejsi Family.

Kansas leads the all-time series with West Virginia, 13-0. The series dates back to a 1999 noconference matchup in Morgantown that Kansas won in four sets. KU and WVU have met 11 times since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012.

Led by third-year head coach Reed Sunahara, WVU enters Saturday with a 17-12 record and 5-10 record during Big 12 play. The Mountaineers hold a No. 84 ranking in the NCAA RPI and only lost to top-10 opponents — No. 6 Penn State and No. 2 Minnesota — during nonconference play.

West Virginia leads the Big 12 in aces per set (1.31) and ranks top-100 in the country in blocks per set (79th; 2.29) and opponent attack percentage (90th; .186). Sophomore outside hitter Payton Caffrey leads the Big 12 in aces per set (0.45) and ranks sixth in the Big 12 in points per set (4.05).

Jayhawk Television Network, powered by Spectrum Sports, will televise Saturday’s Senior Day match with Leif Lisec calling play-by-play and Jill Dorsey-Hall providing analysis. Audio of the match will be available on and KJHK-FM 90.7.

Mmachi Nwoke provided a late spark for Kansas in a four-set road victory at West Virginia on Oct. 4 (28-26, 25-22, 17-25, 25-17). Nwoke, a sophomore middle blocker, came off the bench to produce six kills on a .556 hitting percentage in just over one set played. KU’s consistent trio of All-American leaders proved difficult to stop for the Mountaineers as well. Madison Rigdon led the Jayhawks with 17 kills, including eight in the first set alone. Ainise Havili guided KU’s offense to a .273 hitting percentage with 50 assists and 10 digs. Kelsie Payne added 12 kills and six digs in the winning effort.

Senior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne needs just one kill to set KU’s all-time record for career kills. The Austin, Texas, native enters Saturday’s match with 1,483 career kills, which is tied with Josi Lima (2002-05) at the top of KU’s record book.

Payne already holds career records for hitting percentage (.336) and kills per set (3.65), while ranking 10th in career blocks (340). Payne is the only pin hitter in KU history with 1,000 kills and a hitting percentage of .300 or higher. Last season Payne became the 15th Jayhawk to reach 1,000 kills, and on Sept. 15 against San Jose State she became the 13th Jayhawk to reach 300 blocks.

Senior All-American setter Ainise Havili holds KU’s record for career assists with 5,155 entering Saturday’s match.

Havili passed Andi Rozum’s record of 4,772 in the second set against No. 5 Texas (Oct. 11) and finished the night with 50 assists. The Fort Worth, Texas, native broke the record as KU was facing a UT set point in the second set, 24-23. She guided her 4,773rd career assist to Jada Burse, who registered a kill to tie the set at 24.

Havili has started in all of KU’s 122 matches since her freshman season in 2014.

Havili ranks sixth on the Big 12’s career assists list. She is the only player on the Big 12’s top-10 list who has played her entire career in the 25-point set scoring era, which began in 2008.

Havili also ranks sixth in career digs (1,286) and 18th in service aces (101). Havili became the 18th Jayhawk to reach 100 career aces against Texas (Oct. 11), which is also the night she broke the career assists record. She passed the 4,000-assist mark with 43 assists against Missouri State (Aug. 26) and became the first Jayhawk to pass the 5,000-assist mark with 51 assists at TCU (Nov. 4). The Fort Worth, Texas, native became the 14th Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career digs with 14 against NC State (Aug. 26).

In addition to Ainise Havili and Kelsie Payne holding KU career records, fellow senior All-American Madison Rigdon is making an impact on KU’s record books.

Rigdon ranks ninth in career kills (1,230), tied for second in career aces (134) and fourth in career attack attempts (3,579). Rigdon became the 16th Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career kills with 15 against Purdue (Sept. 8).

A two-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week this season, Rigdon has improved in nearly every statistical category since her freshman season. During the 2017 season, she features career highs in kills per set, digs per set and blocks per set.

Due to injury, Rigdon missed three matches this season, which broke a string of 59-straight appearances in KU’s starting lineup.

Kansas reached 20 wins with a victory at TCU on Nov. 4. It marks the sixth-straight and 16th time overall in program history the Jayhawks have reached 20 wins in a season.

Since KU’s streak of 20-win seasons began in 2012, the Jayhawks have a 152-36 record, good for a .809 winning percentage. From 2012 to 2016, KU averaged 26 wins per season. KU’s last six 20-win seasons have also included at least 10 Big 12 Conference wins.

The last three seasons have been some of the fastest Kansas has ever reached 20 wins, doing so in 21 matches in 2015, 22 matches in 2016, and 24 matches in 2017. In 2015, KU reached 20 wins with a four-set win at Iowa State (Oct. 28, 2015). Last season, Kansas reached 20 wins with a five-set victory over No. 2 Texas (Oct. 29, 2016).

Senior setter Ainise Havili has recorded an assist-dig double-double in 21 of KU’s 28 matches this season. The Jayhawks combine for 16 kill-dig double-doubles this season as senior outside hitter Madison Rigdon has 11 and senior right-side hitter Kelsie Payne has five.

Havili, Rigdon and Payne have all recorded a double-double in the same match three times this season — against Missouri State (Aug. 26), Iowa State (Sept. 27) and Texas (Oct. 11).

Kansas totals 139 career double-doubles on its current roster.

Kansas has nine scoring runs of 7-0 or greater and 41 runs of 5-0 or greater this season. Senior defensive specialist Tori Miller has been the primary server during seven of KU’s nine unanswered scoring runs of seven points or more. The Jayhawks have a 5-2 record in matches featuring a KU scoring run of 7-0 or longer.

KU’s longest run of the season (10-0) occurred when Miller was at the service line. KU went on a 10-0 run at the end of a 25-16 fourth-set win over then-No. 18 Iowa State (Sept. 27); the Jayhawks won the match in five sets.

KU’s .255 hitting percentage this season is the second-highest clip in program history, only ranking behind KU’s 2015 Final Four team (.299). This season, Kansas ranks third in the Big 12 and 32nd nationally in hitting percentage. 
KU all-time team hitting %

Kansas volleyball is ranked No. 14 in the AVCA Coaches Poll released on Monday. Kansas has been ranked for 44-straight AVCA polls. Four of the Big 12’s nine teams are ranked in the top-25 this week.

The Jayhawks have played nine matches against current top-25 teams this season with wins over No. 6 Kentucky, No. 15 Purdue, No. 19 Baylor, No. 23 Iowa State and No. 25 Missouri State.

With Missouri State entering this week’s AVCA poll for the first time this season, Wednesday will be the 10th match for KU against a team currently in the top-25. KU is 5-4 against current top-25 teams, including a 1-1 record against current top-10 opponents.

Since the start of the 2015 season, Kansas has the fifth-highest winning percentage in all of NCAA Division I (.868). The Jayhawks are 79-12 in the last three seasons.

Kansas is 30-5 in its last 35 Big 12 contests.

KU’s road loss at No. 22 Iowa State (Oct.28) broke a 42-match Big 12 Conference winning streak against teams other than the perennial top-5 Texas Longhorns. The previous non-UT loss was a five-set road loss at TCU on Nov. 1, 2014. Kansas and Texas account for the last six Big 12 titles.

KU’s 19-match winning streak against Big 12 opponents ended with a five-set loss to No. 5 Texas (Oct. 11). It goes down in the record books as the longest conference winning streak in program history for the Jayhawks. The winning streak took place over a full calendar year, starting with a win over Baylor on Oct. 1, 2016, and ending on Oct. 11, 2017.

All eight of KU’s Big 12 winning streaks of four matches or longer have ended with losses to top-25 teams.

For the second-consecutive season, KU’s home court, Horejsi Family Athletics Center (1,300), has sold out its allotment of season tickets. Horejsi Family Athletics Center has sold out for 20-straight home matches.

Kansas will await its seed in the upcoming NCAA Volleyball Championship. The 64-team bracket will be revealed on Sunday evening (8 p.m., ESPNU). Kansas is looking to make its sixth-straight tournament appearance while also vying to host the first- and second-rounds for the sixth-straight season.




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