Kansas and Creighton rematch for a spot in NCAA Regionals
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Both Kansas and Creighton will be vying for back-to-back appearances in the Sweet 16 as the fifth-seeded Jayhawks play host to the Bluejays in the NCAA Volleyball Championship second round on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. Central.
The teams will be meeting for the second time this season, as Kansas defeated Creighton in five sets on Sept. 8 in Omaha, Nebraska. In 2013, Kansas punched its first-ever ticket to the NCAA round of 16 after defeating Creighton in Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas and Creighton both competed in last season’s NCAA San Diego Regional, in which the Jayhawks defeated No. 1 USC to advance to the Final Four.
Win or lose, KU’s most successful class senior class in program history will play their last match inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center. Maggie Anderson, Tayler Soucie and Cassie Wait have a 49-7 record in Horesji during the last four seasons, including a 16-match home winning streak entering Friday night’s top-25 showdown.
Live video streaming coverage of all three matches in Lawrence will be available on ESPN3, produced by KU Athletics’ own Rock Chalk Video.
FIRST ROUND LEFTOVERS
• Kansas advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship with a 3-0 sweep of Southern Conference tournament champion Samford on Friday night.
• Freshman outside hitter Jada Burse led the Jayhawks with 14 kills on a .344 hitting percentage.
• Senior serving specialist Maggie Anderson recorded two aces as KU ended the night with an even service aces-to-service errors ratio — 5-to-5.
• Kansas hit .315 in the second and third sets combined against the Bulldogs.
Kansas leads the all-time series with Creighton, 9-1. The Jayhawks boast a 6-0 record against the Bluejays at home. The last time Kansas met Creighton in Horejsi Family Athletics Center on Aug. 30, 2014, the Jayhawks came away with a 3-1 victory over the then-No. 23 Bluejays.
With a match-high 24 kills, 11 digs and four aces, junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon led the Jayhawks to a five-set win over Creighton on Sept. 8 in Omaha, Nebraska. Kansas trailed Creighton two sets to one going into a crucial fourth set. The Jayhawks stormed back from a 9-4 deficit in the fourth to eventually win in extra points, 28-26. Neither team led by more than two points in a tight fifth set before KU won, 15-13.
KANSAS IN THE NCAAs
KU enters Friday’s action with a 10-7 all-time record in eight postseason appearances. Last season, then-No. 9 seed Kansas recorded a 4-1 record in the tournament to advance to the NCAA semifinal round after knocking off No. 1 USC at the regional finals in San Diego.
The Jayhawks are among seven elite programs to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Championship in the last five seasons, joining Stanford, Penn State, Nebraska, Texas, Washington, and Florida.
Kansas is winners of its last 15 matches — the second winning streak of 10 matches or more this season. The 2016 season becomes the first in program history the Jayhawks have had two winning streaks of 10 matches or more. KU currently has the longest winning streak among all power-five conference teams.
The 15-match winning streak is tied for the second-longest in program history.
Kansas went undefeated during the month of October (8-0) and November (6-0) for the first time in program history.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Kansas is on a 17-match home winning streak, including a 13-0 record this season. It is the fourth-longest active home winning streak in NCAA Division I volleyball. The Jayhawks are 34-1 in the last 35 matches inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
A win Friday would give Kansas its first undefeated record at home in program history.
BIG 12 CHAMPIONS
Kansas clinched its first-ever conference title on Nov. 19 with a five-set victory over Iowa State. Kansas went on to win the title outright with five-set victory at Baylor on Nov. 26. In the 21-year history of the Big 12 Conference, Kansas is the second team other than Texas or Nebraska to win or share a Big 12 volleyball title. Kansas State won the title in 2003.
Kansas has won all eight of its five-set matches this season, including five in the last seven matches.
The Jayhawks average 7.8 kills, a .288 hitting percentage, 0.9 aces, 9.6 digs, and 1.9 blocks per fifth set.
WINS FOR SENIOR CLASS
Seniors Maggie Anderson, Tayler Soucie and Cassie Wait are 103-22 (.824) in their four-year playing careers at Kansas. The tremendous trio has the best four-year winning percentage in program history.
RACKING UP THE DUBS
Kansas boasts the highest winning percentage in the nation since the start of the 2015 season. The Jayhawks are 57-5 (.919) since last season, better than 2015 national champion Nebraska at 59-6 (.908) and Texas at 52-7 (.881).
KU’s 26-2 (.931) 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.
JAYHAWKS NEARLY SWEEP BIG 12 AWARDS
Kansas earned the Big 12 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), plus three additional All-Big 12 awards this season. Madison Rigdon earned All-Big 12 First Team honors with Payne, Wait, and Havili. Tayler Soucie earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors. Jada Burse earned a Big 12 All-Freshman Team nod.
It is the first time a Jayhawk has been voted Player of the Year (Payne) or Libero of the Year (Wait). Bechard took home Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
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.
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