Kelsie Payne, Cassie Wait honored with Big 12 weekly awards


IRVING, Texas – The Kansas volleyball duo of junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne and senior libero Cassie Wait collected Big 12 Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors, respectively, on Monday.

Payne and Wait helped sixth-ranked Kansas (17-2, 6-1 Big 12) extend its winning streak to five matches with wins over two top-30 RPI opponents last week. Payne secures her fifth career Offensive Player of the Week honor, while Wait hauls in her seventh career Defensive Player of the Week honor, including her third this season. Wait’s seven awards tie for the fourth-most by a single player in conference history.

For the second time in four matches, Payne nearly recorded a triple-double with 16 kills (.371 hitting percentage), 10 digs and seven blocks for her fifth double-double of the season at TCU last Saturday. Payne began the week with 14 points during KU’s three-set victory over Kansas State on Wednesday, including 11 kills, six digs, four blocks and an ace.

“Even though this is an offensive award, Kelsie had a very well-rounded performance this week,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “She is holding her own defensively, while continuing to be a terminal offensive threat in our system. We are continually impressed with her ability to score from the back row.”

The Austin, Texas native ranked second in the league in points per set (5.75), totaling 34.50 points with 27 kills, 11 blocks and two aces during week eight of the season. She is closing in on becoming the 15th Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career kills, entering this week with 920.

Wait led the Big 12 in digs per set (6.50) during week eight. Her 25 digs in three sets at TCU on Saturday are the most digs in a three-set match during conference play this season. Wait’s defensive efforts helped hold TCU to its lowest hitting percentage of the season (.056). She began the week with 14 digs during KU’s three-set sweep over Kansas State last Wednesday.

“The way we played defensively this week was outstanding, and Cassie is the leader of that,” Bechard said. “We held some pretty high-powered offenses in check this week. Her athleticism and competitive motor allows her to make a lot of plays that other people wouldn’t.”

The Gardner, Kansas native leads the Big 12 in digs per set (5.18) and digs per set during conference play (5.33). Wait also cracked the Big 12 top 10 list for career digs with 1,724 career digs, which ranks second on KU’s all-time digs list.

Kansas remained at No. 6 in the AVCA Coaches Poll on Monday. This is the third-straight week KU has been ranked sixth. 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. Kansas has been consecutively ranked in the top-10 for more than a calendar year (Oct. 5, 2015).

Kansas in the 2016 AVCA Coaches Poll
Week: Rank
Preseason: 5
Aug. 29: 4
Sept. 5: 4
Sept. 12: 4
Sept. 19: 8
Sept. 26: 8
Oct. 3: 6
Oct. 10: 6
Oct. 17: 6
Oct. 24
Oct. 31
Nov. 7 
Nov. 14
Nov. 21
Nov. 28

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