No. 6 Kansas volleyball focused on Texas Tech Wednesday
Kansas volleyball travels to Lubbock for a Wednesday evening match at Texas Tech to start the second half of Big 12 Conference play. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Coming off a weekend bye, the sixth-ranked Jayhawks (18-2, 7-1 Big 12) won’t take the Big 12’s last winless team during conference play lightly.
“They are going to play hard. That is in their culture. That is in their DNA,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said of the Red Raiders. “They are looking forward to starting the second half the way they finished the first half — with an opportunity to beat a top-10 team. They have been competitive in a lot of matches they’ve played and I know they will continue to work hard.”
Last time out, the Red Raiders took two sets off No. 2 Texas inside United Supermarkets Arena — the site of Wednesday’s match with Kansas. Although winless in league play, Texas Tech (10-13, 0-8) started 10-2 under first-year head coach Tony Graystone.
In the first meeting of the season on Oct. 8, Kansas swept Texas Tech, 3-0, including a 25-8 first-set victory. But Bechard knows it will be a different challenge on Wednesday.
“We have to out-work the team on the other side of the net and be true to who we are,” Bechard continued. “It will be a great challenge for us on the road. Texas Tech always plays well at home. We will have to get used to playing on the road in the second half, because five of the last eight matches will be on the road. We are going to have to compete hard and compete well on the road to have the type of season we want.”
Video of Wednesday’s match will be available on TexasTech.tv. The Jayhawk Radio Network will carry live audio of the match on KUAthletics.com/radio and KLWN-AM 1320.
Kansas leads the all-time series against Texas Tech, 26-16. The Jayhawks have won the last 12 meetings in the series. KU’s 12-match winning streak started after dropping a five-setter in Lubbock on Oct. 2, 2010.
LAST TIME OUT
Kansas swept West Virginia, 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-22), last Thursday night to improve on winning streaks of six matches overall and four-straight wins at home dating back to last season. The Jayhawks held West Virginia to a .175 hitting percentage while scoring seven aces and seven blocks. Junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon once again held court at the service line with power and finesse, leading Kansas with five aces on the night – just one shy of the six she recorded against Kansas State on Oct. 15. Junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne recorded five of her 10 kills in the third set as Kansas clinched the victory with a 25-22 triumph in the final set.
BIG 12 HALFWAY MARK
Last Thursday’s match between Kansas and West Virginia marked the eighth match and halfway point of Big 12 Conference regular-season play. The Jayhawks have started 7-1 in league play for two-straight seasons. Since the conference added TCU and West Virginia in 2012, KU has gone 7-1 three times (2012, 2015, 2-16) during the first half of double round-robin league play.
JAYHAWKS’ FORMIDABLE DEFENSE
Kansas leads the Big 12 in four defensive categories – hitting percentage allowed (.137), kills allowed (11.07), assists allowed (10.34) and aces allowed (0.61). KU’s opponents have recorded a hitting percentage below .200 in 18 of 20 matches this season, including three with a negative hitting percentage (under .000). In the Jayhawks’ only two losses this season, their opponent has hit over .300.
When winning the first set, Kansas is 16-0 this season. But the Jayhawks have also shown resiliency after not starting strong during conference play. Kansas has lost the first set in three Big 12 matches but has come back to win two of them – against Baylor (Oct. 1) and at Iowa State (Oct. 5).
With a 56-15 record in sets this season, Kansas has the highest set winning percentage in the Big 12 (.789).
Kansas’ largest margin of victory in a set this season is 17 points, which has occurred twice with 25-8 wins over Texas Tech (Oct. 5) in the first set and Chicago State (Sept. 2) in the second set. The Jayhawks have double-figure margin of victories in 16 sets this season.
In the seven sets that have been decided in extra points, Kansas has a set record of 5-2. Three of KU’s extra-point sets have been in the first set (2-1).
Kansas remained at No. 6 for the fourth-straight week in the AVCA Coaches Poll on Monday. The Jayhawks debuted the season with a No. 5 preseason ranking, spent three weeks at No. 4, and two weeks at No. 8.
The Jayhawks have been ranked in the top-25 for a program-record 23-consecutive times dating back to last season, including 19-consecutive times in the top-10. KU finished last season ranked No. 4 after advancing to the Final Four.
Kansas has been consecutively ranked in the top-10 for more than a calendar year. Last season on Oct. 5, 2015, KU made its program debut in the top-10 with a No. 10 ranking. The Jayhawks have stayed in the top-10 ever since.
On Saturday, No. 6 Kansas plays host to No. 2 Texas in Lawrence. It will mark the fourth-straight top-10 meeting in the Kansas-Texas series.
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