RCW: Inside Volleyball 3.37

Get a quick look inside your favorite Kansas Jayhawk programs each week with Rock Chalk Weekly’s Inside Sports pages. Notable statistics, quick hits and the top social media posts get every Jayhawk fan up-to-speed and ready for another week of thrilling competition.
Kansas finished first in the Big 12 Conference standings for the first time in program history with a 15-1 conference-only record in 2016. The unprecedented season included a win over No. 2 Texas and a Big 12 title-clinching win over Iowa State on Nov. 19, 2016 (pictured). 

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  • Kansas finished with another unprecedented season with a 27-3 record and 15-1 Big 12 record to earn the Big 12 Conference title outright for the first time in program history.
  • OUTRIGHT CHAMPIONS: Kansas clinched its first-ever Big 12 Conference regular-season title with a home victory against Iowa State on Senior Day, Nov. 19, before winning the title outright in the season finale at Baylor on Nov. 26. Both matches were against eventual 2016 NCAA Tournament teams and both went to five sets. KU’s 15-1 record during league play also snapped Texas’ five-year streak of winning the title. The Jayhawks become the second team other than Texas or Nebraska to win a Big 12 title in the league’s 21-year history.
  • SENSATIONAL SENIORS: Kansas said goodbye to a once-in-a-generation senior class, whose on-court accomplishments are matched, if not exceeded, by their off-court position in the community. Maggie Anderson, Tayler Soucie and Cassie Wait helped Kansas advance to the program’s first-ever Final Four in 2015, win the first-ever conference title in 2016, totaling 104 wins along the way. KU’s trailblazing senior class finished with the best four-year winning percentage in program history (81.9).
  • ALL-AMERICANS: Four Jayhawks were bestowed with AVCA All-America honors, led by back-to-back AVCA All-America First Team honors going to junior right-side hitter Kelsie Payne. Junior setter Ainise Havili took home her third-straight All-America nod as a third-team honoree, while junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon and senior libero Cassie Wait were given honorable mention recognition. Kansas’ four honorees joined Florida (five), Minnesota (five), Nebraska (six), Stanford (four), Texas (four) and Wisconsin (four) as the only teams with four or more student-athletes represented on the AVCA All-America Teams.
  • KC SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR: Senior Cassie Wait was named the Kansas City Sports Commission’s Sportswoman of the Year at a banquet in downtown KC on April 26. The honor is given to the top female athlete in the surrounding region of Kansas City. Wait was honored for her continued excellence as a three-year starting libero for KU while graduating with a finance degree in three years and beginning law school during her senior year of eligibility. 
  • NEAR SWEEP OF BIG 12 AWARDS: Kansas earned the Big 12 Conference’s Player of the Year (Kelsie Payne), Libero of the Year (Cassie Wait), Setter of the Year (Ainise Havili) and Coach of the Year (Ray Bechard) awards, plus three additional All-Big 12 nods, in unprecedented fashion. The awards and All-Big 12 teams are voted on by the league’s head coaches. Payne and Wait are the first Jayhawks to win their respective individual conference awards, while Havili and Bechard are back-to-back winners. Bechard has earned Big 12 Coach of the Year honors in four of the last five seasons. Madison Rigdon joined Payne, Havili and Wait on the All-Big 12 First Team. Tayler Soucie earned her third-straight All-Big 12 honor as a second-team member. Jada Burse checked in on the Big 12 All-Freshman Team.
  • NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Kansas wrapped up the season with a 13-1 record inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center, where the Jayhawks completed their first-ever undefeated home regular season (12-0) in 2016. The Jayhawks will begin the 2017 season with a 34-2 record in the last 36 home matches.
  • WINNING STREAKS: For the first time in program history, Kansas had a pair of 10-match winning streaks in the same season. The Jayhawks started the season 10-0, and later won 15 straight to help clinch the Big 12 regular season title. Kansas has one of the best winning percentages in the nation since the start of the 2015 season at 57-6 (.905). KU’s season-ending loss in the NCAA Tournament broke a 17-match home winning streak, a 15-match overall winning streak and a nine-match winning streak in five-set matches.
  • IN THE RANKINGS: With a No. 12 ranking in the final AVCA Coaches Poll, Kansas has been ranked in the top-25 for a program-record 31-consecutive weeks (since Sept. 7, 2015). Before the final poll of the season, Kansas had spent 25-consecutive weeks in the top-10 (Oct. 5, 2015 – Nov. 28, 2016).
  • POSTSEASON WRAPUP: The fifth-seeded Jayhawks swept Samford in the NCAA Championship First Round before losing to No. 21 Creighton in the second round. The Bluejays defeated KU in an extra-point fifth set (20-18) on Friday, December 2, 2016, in Horejsi Family Athletics Center. Despite the upset loss, Kansas was one of seven programs in the nation to host the first and second rounds of the tournament for the fifth-straight season. The Jayhawks entered the tournament with the highest overall seed in program history – No. 5.
  • BECHARD RECORDS: Kansas head coach Ray Bechard finished the season with a 352-232 (.603) record in his 19th season at KU. Since 2012, the Jayhawks have gone 130-30 (.813) under Bechard. Entering his 33rd season as a head coach in 2017, Bechard has a career record of 1,068-292 (.785).