Nation’s top defense and offense clash as No. 6 Kansas and No. 2 Texas position for Big 12 title
LAWRENCE, Kan. – In the fourth-straight top-10 matchup between Kansas and Texas on Saturday night in Lawrence (6:30 p.m., JTV/ESPN3), the sixth-ranked Jayhawks and second-ranked Longhorns will jockey for a first-place position in the Big 12 standings as the regular-season begins to wind down.
Kansas (19-2, 8-1 Big 12) enters the weekend with one of the nation’s best defenses, while Texas (17-2, 9-0) boasts a highly efficient offense.
The Jayhawks’ defense is holding opponents to a .134 hitting percentage — good for second in the nation — led by senior libero Cassie Wait’s 5.2 digs per set. The Longhorns feature an offense which is posting .306 hitting percentage, led by freshman Micaya White whose 4.3 kills per set ranks 25th in the land.
With so many exterior factors swirling around the sold-out showdown inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center, including KU’s 13-match home winning streak pitted against a 25-match series losing streak against the Longhorns, the Jayhawks remain focused on their side of the net.
“Everyone knows the significance and importance of it, but we have to be who we are,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “Being the best version of who we are will give us the best chance to win.”
The Jayhawk Television Network’s telecast of the match will be available on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel in the state of Kansas and the Kansas City area, while video streaming will be available nationwide on ESPN3. The Jayhawk Radio Network will carry live audio of the match on KUAthletics.com/radio.
Saturday marks the fourth-straight top-10 matchup between Kansas and Texas.
Oct. 23, 2015: No. 7 KANSAS at No. 2 Texas (L, 0-3)
Nov. 11, 2015: No. 10 KANSAS vs. No. 5 Texas (L, 2-3)
Sept. 24, 2016: No. 8 KANSAS at No. 5 Texas (L, 1-3)
Oct. 29, 2016: No. 6 KANSAS vs. No. 2 Texas
Texas leads the all-time series with Kansas, 40-4. Texas has won the last 25 matches in the series. All but three matches between Kansas and Texas have come during Big 12 regular-season play. The Longhorns won the first three meetings of the series in the 1980s.
Texas won the first meeting of the 2016 season in Austin, 3-1, on Sept. 24. The Jayhawks controlled most of the first set on the way to a 23-19 lead, but Texas rallied to win the opening set in extra points, 27-25.
Last time the teams met in Lawrence, the Jayhawks came only a few points shy of defeating the Longhorns during a five-set battle Nov. 11, 2015. Despite the loss, Kansas was highly efficient on offense, recording a .307 team hitting percentage. The Jayhawks also out-gained Texas in kills, 77 to 64, but were undone by 17 service errors. KU’s home loss to Texas was KU’s only home loss of the season.
LAST TIME OUT
Kansas extended its winning streak to seven matches with a straight-set victory over Texas Tech on Wednesday night in Lubbock, 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-20). Junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon led the Jayhawks with 17 kills and three aces, while junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne notched her sixth double-double of the season with 16 kills and 10 digs. The Jayhawks held Texas Tech to a .064 hitting percentage.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Kansas is on a 13-match home winning streak and is 30-1 in the last 31 matches inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
RACKING UP THE DUBS
KU’s 49 wins since the start of the 2015 season ranks tied for third in NCAA Division I volleyball during that period. The Jayhawks have the same number of wins as Washington (49) and American (49), while trailing Nebraska (50) and Western Kentucky (54) since last season.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.