No. 8 Kansas sets sight on No. 5 Texas Saturday night
Notes Game Notes (.pdf)
LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 8 Kansas volleyball and No. 5 Texas meet for the third-straight time as top-10 opponents on Saturday night in Austin (7 p.m. Central, Longhorn Network).
The Jayhawks (12-1, 1-0 Big 12) are looking to break a 24-match losing streak against the Longhorns and gain the upper-hand in the Big 12 standings after finishing second to Texas (9-2, 1-0) in the last four seasons.
Saturday marks the third-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
Texas: Texas leads the all-time series with Kansas, 39-4. Texas has won the last 24 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.
The Jayhawks came only a few points shy of avoiding its 24th-straight loss to the Longhorns during a five-set battle in Lawrence last season (Nov. 11, 2015). Despite the loss, Kansas was highly efficient on offense, recording a .307 team hitting percentage in the last meeting against Texas. 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.
One-third of the Kansas volleyball roster will be making a trip to their home state on Saturday. KU features five Texans, including two from the Austin area: Kelsie Payne (Austin) and Madison Rigdon (Pflugerville).
Kelsie Payne (Jr., RS, Austin)
Jada Burse (Fr., OH, DeSoto)
Ainise Havili (Jr., S, Fort Worth)
Zoe Hill (Fr., MB, Houston)
Madison Rigdon (Jr., OH, Pflugerville)
BIG 12 ROAD OPENERS
Kansas is 5-15 in Big 12 road openers, including a 5-13 mark under head coach Ray Bechard. Last season, Kansas defeated TCU (Sept. 26) in three sets in Fort Worth during the first Big 12 road match of the season.
JAYHAWKS DEFENSE IMPRESSES IN BIG 12 OPENER
Kansas opened Big 12 Conference play with an impressive three-set sweep over Oklahoma in Lawrence (Sept. 21). The Jayhawk defense held the Sooners to a .092 hitting percentage, led by senior libero Cassie Wait’s 23 digs. The Sooners entered the Big 12 opener with the second-best hitting clip in the Big 12 (.285). Senior middle blocker Tayler Soucie led Kansas with 10 kills and five blocks, while junior All-American setter Ainise Havili registered her fifth double-double of the season, but first of the season in a three-set match.
OU hitting percentage
Entering match vs. KU: .285 (2nd Big 12)
Wednesday vs. KU: .092
Kansas concluded nonconference play with an 11-1 record. The Jayhawks’ 25-match winning streak against nonconference opponents during the regular season came to an end in a four-set loss at No. 14 Purdue (Sept. 16). The regular-season nonconference winning streak began on Sept. 19, 2014 and included eight-straight nonconference tournament titles. Kansas is 180-30 (.857) against nonconference teams during the regular season under head coach Ray Bechard.
Eight-Straight Nonconference Tourney Titles (MVP)
2014 – Jayhawk Classic (Cassie Wait)
2015 – Arkansas Invitational (Ainise Havili)
2015 – Kansas Invitational (Cassie Wait)
2015 – Pistol Pete’s Showdown (Madison Rigdon)
2015 – Jayhawk Classic (Tiana Dockery)
2016 – Bulldog Invitational (Madison Rigdon)
2016 – Kansas Invitational (Kelsie Payne)
2016 – Bluejay Invitational (Madison Rigdon)
Kansas has won all three of its five-set matches this season. All three five-set tests have come in different settings – at home against Arkansas (Sept. 3), on the road at Creighton (Sept. 8), and at a neutral site against Xavier (Sept. 16). During last season’s unprecedented run to the Final Four, the Jayhawks played two five-set matches the entire season – at home against No. 5 Texas and in the NCAA regional final against No. 1 USC.
RACKING UP THE DUBS
KU’s 42 wins since the start of the 2015 season ranks second in NCAA Division I volleyball during that period. Western Kentucky leads with 44 since the start of last season.
Wins since 2015 (as of Sept. 20, 2016)
Western Kentucky – 44 (32 2016)
KANSAS – 42 (30 2016)
USC – 41 (33 2016)
Washington – 41 (31 2016)
Nebraska – 41 (32 2016)
CLIMBING THE LADDER
Senior libero Cassie Wait enters this weekend with 1,619 career digs, which ranks second on KU’s career digs list. She now stands 434 digs away from all-time leader Brianne Riley (2010-13; 2,053). Wait and Riley played on the same team in 2013. On Sept. 23, 2015 against K-State, Wait became the third-fastest Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career digs (77 matches; 282 sets).
Senior middle blocker Tayler Soucie enters this weekend with 444 career blocks, ranking third on KU’s career blocks list. Soucie has recorded 100 blocks for three-consecutive seasons entering her senior campaign; the only Jayhawk to record four 100-block seasons was career blocks leader Caroline Jarmoc (2010-13; 555). Soucie, the 2015-16 Big 12 Female Sportsperson of the Year, trails second-place Amanda Reves (1996-99; 514) by 70 blocks.
Junior All-American setter Ainise Havili became the seventh Jayhawk to reach 3,000 career assists after registering 47 against Chattanooga (Sept. 9). She enters this weekend with 3,196 career assists. The reigning Big 12 Setter of the Year already ranks second in career assists per set (11.54) in the KU record books.
Junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne is KU’s career leader in hitting percentage (.352) among attackers with at least 1,000 attempts. The Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year totals 828 kills and will soon become the 15th Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career kills.
Kansas leads the Big 12 and ranks fifth national in aces per set (1.7). The Jayhawks have nine matches with five or more aces. Individually, junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon leads the Big 12 and ranks fourth nationally with 29 aces – at least 11 more than any other player in the league.
KU Aces per Set
Kansas fell four spots to No. 8 in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll released on Monday. Last week, KU’s No. 4 ranking tied for the highest ranking in program history for the fourth time.
The Jayhawks have been ranked in the top-25 for a program-record 19-consecutive times dating back to last season, including 15-consecutive times in the top-10. The Jayhawks debuted the season with a No. 5 preseason ranking in the AVCA Coaches Poll and finished last season ranked No. 4 after advancing to the Final Four.
WAIT: BIG 12 LEADER IN DIGS
Senior libero Cassie Wait leads the Big 12 in digs per set (5.26) and is the floor general for a KU defense which is holding opponents to a Big 12-best .166 hitting percentage. Wait earned back-to-back Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 5 and Sept. 12. The Gardner, Kansas native has reached 20 digs in more than half (seven) of this season’s matches, including three 20-dig performances in a three-set match. Wait set a Bluejay Invitational record of 33 digs during KU’s five-set victory over preseason-No. 18 Creighton (Sept. 8), marking her third career 30-dig performance. Wait ranks 19th nationally in digs per set.
RIGDON ON THE WAY TO CAREER SEASON
Junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon has a head start to her most successful season as a Jayhawk. The Pflugerville, Texas native has already garnered two nonconference tournament MVP honors (Bulldog Classic, Bluejay Invitational) and ranks fifth in the nation in aces per set (0.63). Rigdon has increased production across the board in kills, hitting accuracy, digs and service aces, comparted to last season’s All-Big 12 Second Team campaign.
2014: 2.18 k/s, .226 %, 1.23 d/s, 0.31 sa/s
2015: 2.75 k/s, .206 %, 2.11 d/s, 0.26 sa/s
2016: 3.49 k/s, .240 %, 2.05 d/s, 0.67 sa/s
k/s – kills per set; % – hitting percentage; d/s – digs per set; sa/s – aces per set
Kansas returned five starters, including libero Cassie Wait, from the squad that advanced all the way to the NCAA Championship semifinals in 2015. The two starting positions that needed to be replaced were outside hitter (Tiana Dockery) and middle blocker (Janae Hall). Redshirt freshman Patricia Montero has started 11 of 13 at outside hitter, but freshman Jada Burse has started the last two. At middle blocker, freshman Zoe Hill has nine starts and junior Kayla Cheadle has four starts.
Dockery was a four-year starter for the Jayhawks who averaged 2.4 kills per set and 1.7 digs per set in her career. Hall boasted a .328 career hitting percentage while contributing 1.7 kills per set and 0.8 blocks per set.
BURSE IMPRESSES EARLY
Freshman outside hitter Jada Burse became the first Jayhawk other than Kelsie Payne or Madison Rigdon to lead or co-lead the team in kills during a match after registering nine kills during a three-set sweep of Southeastern Louisiana (Sept. 17). Burse also went off for eight kills on 10 errorless swings during KU’s three-set victory over Maryland (Sept. 2), marking a KU season high for hitting percentage (.800) with a 10-attack minimum. The DeSoto, Texas native has started the last two matches for the Jayhawks and recently recorded a season-high five blocks during her Big 12 debut against Oklahoma (Sept. 21).
KU’s 10-0 start tied for the second-best start in program history, trailing only last season’s Final Four team which started 19-0. KU’s 2001 season also began 10-0. The top-four of KU’s best starts in have been under the tutelage of head coach Ray Bechard.
Year – Start (Finish)
2015 – 19-0 (30-3, 14-2 Big 12, NCAA Final Four)
2016 – 10-0 (?)
2001 – 10-0 (16-15, 6-14 Big 12)
2000 – 9-0 (15-14, 6-14 Big 12)
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