🏐 No. 4 Seeded Kansas Opens NCAA Tournament Against Omaha
LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 15 Kansas Volleyball is set to take on the Omaha Mavericks Thursday night inside Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
This first round matchup is set for a 7 p.m. CT first serve, and the game will be streamed on ESPN+. Leif Lisec (play by play) and Jill Dorsey-Hall (analyst) will have the call for the match.
“It’s been a good year; 23-5 in a really good league with a good non-conference schedule speaks well to where we are at this point, but certainly we want to add some value and some energy to this season by the way we compete this week,” said Kansas Head Coach Ray Bechard in a press conference ahead of this week’s matches.
Kansas, who earned the No. 4 seed in the Wisconsin Quarter, enters the NCAA Tournament with a 23-5 record, and finished second in the Big 12 with a 14-4 mark in conference play. The Jayhawks have won 14 straight home games on their way to a 14-1 record inside Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena this season.
Omaha comes into the tournament with a 15-13 record overall, and a 12-4 record in Summit League play. The Mavericks received the two seed in their conference tournament and defeated North Dakota State and UMKC in five sets to win the Summit League Championship and receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas and Omaha have already met once this year at Baxter Arena in Omaha, with the result being a sweep for Kansas. Reagan Cooper led all players with 14 kills, and freshman libero Raegan Burns led all players with 15 digs, as Kansas held the Mavericks to a .122 hitting percentage for the match.
Kansas leads the all-time series with the Mavericks 9-2, and the Jayhawks have won the last four matchups with the Mavericks. Omaha’s last win against Kansas was in 1982.
Kansas features a high-powered offense that ranks in the top 15 in the country in assists per set (14.86) and kills per set (15). The KU offense is anchored by junior setter Camryn Turner, who averages 12.43 assists per set, a mark that ranks seventh in the country.
Graduate outside hitter Reagan Cooper and junior outside hitter Ayah Elnady lead the way for Kansas in terms of kills, as both Jayhawks rank in the top 15 in the country in kills per set. Elnady ranks seventh in the country with 5.57 and Cooper sits in 15th with an even five kills per set average.
The Omaha defense will be up to the task, as the Mavericks rank 22nd in the country in digs per set with 16.8. Omaha has also had success up front this season as Maverick middle blockers Emily Huss and McKenna Ruch both rank in the top five in the Summit League in blocks per set. Huss finished tied for first with 1.25 blocks per set, and Ruch finished in fifth, averaging 1.13 blocks per set.
The winner of Thursday’s match will advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and will take on the winner of Penn State and Yale. The Friday match at Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena will be played at 5:30 p.m. CT.