No. 4 Kansas ready for Dillons Sunflower Showdown on Wednesday
Notes Match Notes (.pdf)
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Fourth-ranked Kansas volleyball will be looking to extend an eight-match winning streak during the Dillons Sunflower Showdown against Kansas State on Wednesday night (7 p.m., ESPN3).
The Jayhawks (20-2, 9-1 Big 12) enter the week in a tie for first-place in the Big 12 standings with No. 5 Texas. KU will have to find success on the road in order to remain in contention for the program’s first-ever Big 12 title; four of the remaining six regular-season matches are away from the friendly confines of Horejsi Family Athletics Center where Kansas is 10-0.
Kansas is led by this week’s Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week, Kelsie Payne, who is averaging nearly four kills per set on a .318 hitting percentage during KU’s current eight-match winning streak.
K-State (17-6, 6-4) presents another efficient offense for KU’s league-leading defense to deal with. The Wildcats pace the Big 12 in kills per set (14.20), while KU’s defense is holding opponents to a Big 12-best 11.06 kills per set.
Wednesday’s match will be available through online video streaming via ESPN3. The Jayhawk Radio Network will carry live audio of the match on KWOD-AM 1660 and KUAthletics.com/radio.
Kansas State leads the all-time series with Kansas, 61-43, but the Jayhawks have had the upper-hand of late. In the last nine matches Kansas holds a 8-1 record against the Wildcats, including a series sweep last season and a pair of wins over ranked K-State teams in 2012.
Kansas won the first meeting of the 2016 season, 3-0, on Oct. 12 as senior middle blocker Tayler Soucie recorded six blocks and junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon posted 14 kills. The Kansas offense was firing on all cylinders with a .340 hitting percentage, while KU’s defense held Kansas State to a .190 hitting clip.
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.
PAYNE TRAIN: NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne was named the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week on Tuesday after helping Kansas move into a tie for first place in the Big 12 standings with wins over Texas Tech and No. 2 Texas last week.
It is the first career national player of the week nod for Payne, a 2015 AVCA First Team All-American, and the fifth all-time for Kansas volleyball. Last season, junior All-American setter Ainise Havili earned the national honor on Oct. 13, 2015.
KU All-Time AVCA National Players of the Week
• Josi Lima – Sept. 19, 2005
• Karina Garlington – Nov. 11, 2008
• Caroline Jarmoc – Oct. 23, 2012
• Ainise Havili – Oct. 13, 2015
• Kelsie Payne – Nov. 1, 2016
RACKING UP THE DUBS
Kansas boasts the second-best winning percentage in the nation since the start of the 2015 season. The Jayhawks’ 50-5 record (.909) since last season is second only to 2015 national champion Nebraska at 52-5 (.912). The Jayhawks are in the company of just five NCAA Division I schools which have already reached 50 wins since last season (American, Kansas, Nebraska, Washington and Western Kentucky).
JAYHAWKS’ FORMIDABLE DEFENSE
Kansas leads the Big 12 in four defensive categories – hitting percentage allowed (.139), kills allowed (11.06), assists allowed (10.38) and aces allowed (0.59). KU’s opponents have recorded a hitting percentage below .200 in 19 of 22 matches this season, including three with a negative hitting percentage (under .000). In the Jayhawks’ only two losses this season, their opponent has hit over .300.
Kansas moved up two spots to No. 4 in the AVCA Coaches Poll on Monday. The Jayhawks spent the previous four-straight weeks ranked sixth before defeating No. 2 Texas on Saturday. The Jayhawks have been ranked in the top-25 for a program-record 26-consecutive weeks (since Sept. 7, 2015), including 21-consecutive weeks in the top-10 (since Oct. 5, 2015). KU’s No. 4 ranking ties a program high in the AVCA Coaches Poll for the fifth time.
KU finished last season ranked No. 4 after advancing to the NCAA Championship semifinals.
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