Salute to Service: No. 4 Kansas volleyball hosts TCU on Saturday
Notes Match Notes (.pdf)
LAWRENCE, Kan. – This Veterans Day weekend, fourth-ranked Kansas volleyball will recognize the sacrifices of our armed forces with the annual Salute to Service match against TCU on Saturday evening in Horejsi Family Athletics Center (4 p.m., JTV/ESPN3).
Kansas will welcome the Lawrence-based 312th Army Band to perform the Star Spangled Banner, while Marine Maj. Jake MacDonald will give the honorary first serve.
Maj. MacDonald, a Boston native, has worked with the Kansas volleyball team for the last three years during preseason training with military-style team building activities called The Program. The former football student-athlete at Tufts University was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps and completed two combat tours in Iraq and a tour in Afghanistan. The Purple Heart recipient continues to serve our country in the Marine Corps Reserves.
After the pre-match recognition, the Jayhawks will look to continue a wave of momentum, spurred by a 10-match winning streak, into the last four matches of the regular season. KU did not play a mid-week contest this week, which provided much-deserved rest after a grueling stretch of three matches in eight days.
Kansas passed that eight-day test with flying colors — defeating then-No. 2 Texas in fives sets for the first time since 2003, a five-set road win at Kansas State, and another road win at Oklahoma despite losing the first set.
“I told the team, that eight-day stretch of defeating Texas at home and K-State and Oklahoma on the road was the most significant stretch since I’ve been here,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “That speaks volumes for a team that is trying to play hard and play together at the right time.”
Along the way, a pair of Jayhawks further cemented their legacy in the program. During the Oklahoma match on Nov. 5, senior middle blocker Tayler Soucie recorded six blocks to become the third Jayhawk to reach 500 career blocks, while junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne dished 21 kills to become the 15th Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career kills.
Kansas associate athletics director for academic and career counseling Dr. Scott “Scooter” Ward is on the path towards recovery after recent emergency open-heart surgery on Oct. 7. Kansas volleyball has chosen to wear #RootForScoot shirts during warm ups for the remainder of the season to show their support for their long-time mentor and friend. Ward has worked with the Kansas men’s basketball and volleyball programs since 2003.
Kansas leads the all-time series with TCU, 8-2, including a 8-1 mark during Big 12 Conference regular season play. Kansas has won the last three matches against the Horned Frogs, including a straight-set win on Oct. 15.
LAST TIME OUT
Kansas rallied from a one-set deficit on the road to defeat Oklahoma in four sets (23-25, 25-23, 25-20, 27-25) on Nov. 5 in Norman. The Jayhawks extend their winning streak to 10 matches. Soucie contributed three of her six blocks on the night in a critical fourth set, which Kansas rallied from a late six-point deficit, 18-12, to clinch the four-set victory in extra points, 27-25. Kansas also won the second set with a two-point margin, 25-23, to recover from a first-set loss to OU. On the night she reached 1,000 career kills, junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne recorded a match-high 21 kills against the Sooners on a .381 hitting percentage, adding seven digs, six blocks and an ace.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Kansas is on a 14-match home winning streak, including a 10-0 record this season, and is 31-1 in the last 32 matches inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
KU enters Saturday on its second 10-match winning streak of the season. The 2016 season becomes the first in program history the Jayhawks have had two winning streaks of 10 matches or more. The winning streak also ties for the fourth-longest in program history.
KU’s current winning streak is the longest late-season winning streak in program history; starting at the 15th match of the season against Baylor (Oct. 1). Previous 10-match winning streaks or longer have started within the first two matches of the season.
Kansas went undefeated during the month of October (8-0) for the first time in program history.
SOUCIES REACHES 500 BLOCKS
With six blocks at Oklahoma (Nov. 5), senior middle blocker Tayler Soucie became the third Jayhawk to reach 500 career blocks and the second Jayhawk to reach 100 blocks all four seasons of her career. She ended the match with those exact numbers – 500 career blocks and 100 blocks on the season. Soucie contributed three of her six blocks on the night in a critical fourth set, which Kansas rallied from a late six-point deficit, 18-12, to clinch the four-set victory in extra points, 27-25.
KU career blocks leader Caroline Jarmoc (555) is the only other Jayhawk to reach 100 blocks in a season all four years of her collegiate career.
PAYNE REACHES 1,000 KILLS
Junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne became the 15th Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career kills with 21 kills at Oklahoma (Nov. 5) on a .381 hitting percentage, adding seven digs, six blocks and an ace. The Austin, Texas native reached 1,000 kills with the highest career hitting percentage (.354) in program history.
RACKING UP THE DUBS
Kansas boasts the second-best winning percentage in the nation since the start of the 2015 season. The Jayhawks’ 52-5 record (.912) since last season is second only to 2015 national champion Nebraska at 55-5 (.917). KU’s 22-2 (.917) record this season currently stands as the highest winning percentage in program history, just ahead of last season’s Final Four campaign which finished with a 30-3 (.909) record.
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