No. 9 Jayhawks travel west for nonconference finale
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas volleyball travels west to the Bay Area for the Santa Clara / San Jose Tournament in its final three matches of the nonconference portion of the 2017 regular-season schedule this weekend.
The ninth-ranked Jayhawks will face the joint hosts of the event on Friday with a 3 p.m. Central time first-serve against San Jose State and a 9 p.m. Central time start against Santa Clara. Kansas and Idaho meet for the first time in program history on Saturday at 1 p.m. Central time. Part of the tournament will be held on San Jose State’s campus, but all three of KU’s matches are at Santa Clara’s Leavy Center.
• KU enters the final week of nonconference play with a 9-1 record, including two wins over current top-15 teams.
• KU is ranked No. 9 in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll and has been ranked in the top-25 for 35-straight polls.
• Kelsie Payne and Madison Rigdon are the first Kansas classmates to record over 1,000 career kills since Amanda Reves (1,264) and Mary Beth Albrecht (1,171) did so during their concurrent playing careers from 1996-99.
• This weekend’s matches on the Pacific coast mark the fourth time zone Kansas will play in during the four weeks of nonconference play this season.
• Kansas leads the nation in kills per set (15.50), while ranking second in assists per set (14.53) and 24th in hitting percentage (.280). Ainise Havili tops the Big 12 in assists per set (12.50), while Payne (5.04) and Rigdon (4.60) rank first and second in the league, respectively, in points per set.
• KU has won three-straight Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week awards –Havili on Aug. 28, Payne on Sept. 4 and Rigdon on Sept. 11.
• The Jayhawks have the highest winning percentage in the country since the start of the 2015 season (.909).
• Ray Bechard is in his 20th season as head coach at KU. He is the program’s all-time winningest coach at 361-233 (.608).
• KU is coming off back-to-back unprecedented seasons – advancing to the Final Four in 2015 and winning the program’s first-ever Big 12 Conference title in 2016.
Audio steaming for all KU matches will be available on KUAthletics.com/radio with Nick Lewis calling play-by-play. Friday’s matches against San Jose State and Santa Clara will also be available locally on KCTE-AM 1510 in the Kansas City area. Saturday’s match against Idaho will be the first match of the season on KU’s campus radio station, KJHK-FM 90.7.
KANSAS-SAN JOSE STATE MATCH
Kansas and San Jose State (Mountain West Conference) are meeting for just the second time in program history on Friday and for the first time in 35 years. The Jayhawks and Spartans first met on Oct. 8, 1982 in Norman, Oklahoma – then-No. 20 SJSU won in straight sets, 3-0. Kansas has won the last five matches against current Mountain West Conference teams and is 9-12 all-time against the league. KU and SJSU’s only 2017 common opponent is Montana, which both teams swept. The Spartans enter the weekend on a five-match winning streak.
Led by head coach Jolene Shepardson, San Jose State enter the fourth week of the regular season with one of the nation’s most efficient offenses, ranking 24th in NCAA Division I in kills per set (14.26), 39th in attack percentage (.260) and 48th in aces per set (1.61).
KANSAS-SANTA CLARA MATCH
Kansas and Santa Clara (West Coast Conference) meet for the third time in the last three decades on Friday night. The Jayhawks lead the series, 2-0, with neutral-site victories in 1994 and 2004. The last meeting was a four-set KU win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Seattle, Washington, on Dec. 3, 2004. Kansas has won the last five meetings against current West Coast Conference teams, including a 2015 Sweet 16 win over Loyola Marymount in San Diego.
Led by head coach Jon Wallace, Santa Clara is averaging 12.28 kills per set on a .206 hitting percentage with 15.28 digs per set and 2.03 blocks per set.
Kansas and Idaho (Big Sky Conference) are meeting for the first time in program history on Saturday. Kansas has won the last seven matches against current Big Sky teams, six of which have been at neutral site locations.
Led by head coach Debbie Buchanan, the Vandals lead the Big Sky Conference in attack percentage (.244) and aces per set (1.70); Idaho also ranks 50th in the nation in blocks per set (2.52).
LAST TIME OUT
With a home-opening sweep over No. 13 Kentucky on Sept. 4, the Jayhawks improved to 24-1 in home openers since 1993, including a 19-1 (.950) mark under head coach Ray Bechard, since 1998. Kansas defeated Belmont and No. 17 Purdue before losing to No. 9 Creighton during the Kansas Invitational. Senior All-American outside hitter Madison Rigdon was named to the All-Tournament Team after registering three double-doubles and reaching 1,000 career kills against Purdue.
FIRST 10 MATCHES
The Jayhawks are off to a 9-1 start after the first 10 matches of the regular season. Kansas has a combined .888 winning percentage in the first 10 matches of the season in the last eight seasons. Kansas has a pair of 10-0 starts during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, and four 9-1 starts in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2017.
First 10 matches, last 10 seasons
Season: Start / Finish
2016: 10-0 / 27-3 Big 12 Champions
2015: 10-0 / 30-3 NCAA Final Four
2014: 9-1 / 22-9 NCAA
2013: 7-3 / 25-8 NCAA
2012: 9-1 / 26-7 NCAA
2011: 9-1 / 15-14
2010: 8-2 / 17-14
2009: 7-3 / 16-14
2008: 5-5 / 13-16
WOLVERINE INVITATIONAL WRAP
Kansas improved to 6-0 by winning the Wolverine Invitational title in Orem, Utah (Aug. 31-Sept. 2). The tournament, hosted by Utah Valley, marked KU’s 10th nonconference tournament title in the last 11 attempts. Senior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne was named the MVP, while outside hitters Madison Rigdon and Jada Burse were all-tournament honorees. The Jayhawks defeated Utah Valley in straight sets, five-time national champion Long Beach State in four sets and Montana in three. KU’s 53 kills against Utah Valley (Aug. 31) are the most by a Big 12 team in a three-set match this season.
WOLFPACK INVITATIONAL WRAP
Kansas won the season-opening Wolfpack Invitational hosted by NC State (Aug. 25-26). Ainise Havili posted 63 assists, 14 digs and three blocks while directing KU’s offense to a .350 hitting percentage in the rematch against the Wolfpack. Havili earned tournament MVP honors, while first-year starting libero Allie Nelson and All-American Kelsie Payne were all-tournament honorees.
Kansas moved back two spots to No. 9 in the AVCA Coaches Poll on Monday, Sept. 11. The reigning Big 12 champion Jayhawks have been ranked 35-straight times in the AVCA poll, including 29 of the last 30 polls in the top-10. KU’s season-high No. 7 ranking came on Sept. 4.
Five teams in the current top-25 are on the Jayhawks’ 2017 schedule – No. 6 Texas, No. 7 Creighton, No. 12 Kentucky, No. 15 Purdue and No. 19 Iowa State. Two additional 2017 opponents (Baylor and Missouri State) are receiving votes in this week’s poll.
THREE-STRAIGHT BIG 12 OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
For the third-straight week, Kansas took home Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors as senior All-American outside hitter Madison Rigdon was chosen for the award on Monday afternoon. Fellow senior All-Americans Ainise Havili (setter) and Kelsie Payne (right-side hitter) were honored with the Big 12’s first two offensive player of the week awards of the season on Aug. 28 and Sept. 4, respectively.
Since the Big 12 began awarding offensive players of the week in 2007, there have been only three times when a team has earned three-straight Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors from three different players. Kansas has done it the last two times in 2013 and 2017.
2007, Texas: Michelle Moriarty (10/15), Juliann Faucette (10/22), Lauren Paolini (10/29)
2013, KANSAS: Erin McNorton (9/23), Tiana Dockery (9/30), Sara McClinton (10/7)
2017, KANSAS: Ainise Havili (8/28), Kelsie Payne (9/4), Madison Rigdon (9/11)
Rigdon earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors after becoming the 16th Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career kills and given Kansas Invitational All-Tournament Team honors after helping lead the Jayhawks to a pair of top-20 wins during week three of the season. She notched three double-doubles and averaged 4.08 kills per set on a .342 hitting percentage. She started the week with 16 kills on a .577 hitting percentage with seven digs during a three-set sweep of No. 13 Kentucky on Monday, Sept. 4. The Pflugerville, Texas, native passed the century mark in career kills with 15, plus 10 digs, in a four-set win over No. 17 Purdue on Friday night, Sept. 8. Rigdon ended the week by collecting her sixth double-double of the season with 11 kills and 14 digs in three sets against No. 9 Creighton (Sept. 9).
Payne was named MVP of the Wolverine Invitational, averaging 4.80 kills per set on a .389 hitting percentage as Kansas worked its way to a 6-0 start for the third-straight season. Payne started the tournament with 18 kills – the most by a Big 12 player in a three-set match this season – on a .516 hitting percentage in just three sets against Utah Valley on Thursday. She notched her third 20-kill performance of the season with 20 kills against Long Beach State on Friday, adding eight digs and three blocks. On Saturday, Payne contributed 10 kills, six digs and two blocks in KU’s sweep of Montana.
Havili was named the first Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week of the 2017 season after leading the Jayhawks to the Wolfpack Invitational title with a 3-0 record while averaging 12.31 assists per set and 4.15 digs per set. The Fort Worth, Texas, native was named MVP of the season-opening event after posting three-straight double-doubles. She started with 54 assists and 22 digs in a four-set victory at NC State (Aug. 25). The next day she posted 43 assists and 18 digs with two blocks in a four-set win over Missouri State (Aug. 26) and became the fourth Jayhawk to reach 4,000 career assists. Havili then reached 60 assists for the second time in her career with 63 in a five-set win at NC State (Aug. 26), while adding three kills, 14 digs and three blocks against the Wolfpack.
BIG 12 LEADERS
Kansas paces the Big 12 in kills per set (15.50) and assists per set (14.53). Kelsie Payne leads the Big 12 kills per set (4.58) and points per set (5.04). Ainise Havili leads the Big 12 and ranks fifth in the nation in assists per set (12.50). Madison Rigdon ranks second, behind Payne, in points per set (4.60).
Payne has the most kills by a Big 12 player in a three-set match (18 at Utah Valley, Aug. 31) and a four-set match (23 vs. Missouri State, Aug. 26). The Austin, Texas, native also has the most points by a Big 12 player in a three-set match (19.5 at Utah Valley, Aug. 31) and a four-set match (26.0 vs. Missouri State, Aug. 26).
Havili has the most assists by a Big 12 player in a three-set match (40 vs. Kentucky, Sept. 4) and a five-set match (63 at NC State, Aug. 26).
Sophomore libero Allie Nelson has the most digs by a Big 12 player in a four-set match (28 vs. Missouri State, Aug. 26).
Senior setter Ainise Havili has recorded an assist-dig double-double in eight of KU’s 10 matches this season. The Jayhawks combine for seven kill-dig double-doubles this season with senior outside hitter Madison Rigdon accounting for six and senior right-side hitter Kelsie Payne with one.
TIME ZONE HOPPING
Kansas will play in every contiguous U.S. time zone during nonconference play this season. The Jayhawks traveled to North Carolina State (ET) to open the regular season, Utah Valley (MT) in the second week and Santa Clara (PT) in the fourth and final week of nonconference play. KU also hosts four matches in Lawrence (CT) in the third week of the regular season.
BECHARD IN 20th SEASON
Ray Bechard is in his 20th season as head coach of Kansas volleyball this season. During his tenure as the leader of the program, Bechard has become the winningest coach in program history while charting unprecedented territory. The western Kansas native has recruited and coached all nine of KU’s AVCA All-Americans and has more than 1,000 career victories in his 33-year head coaching career at Barton County Community College (1985-97) and KU (1998-present).
Progress under Bechard
1998: Bechard’s first season at KU
2000: Undefeated in nonconference
2003: KU’s first NCAA Tournament appearance, first NCAA Tournament win, first 20-win season since 1991, First AVCA All-American (Josi Lima)
2004: NCAA Tournament appearance, undefeated in nonconference
2005: NCAA Tournament appearance
2012: First national ranking in the final AVCA poll of the season (No. 25), top-10 finish in the NCAA RPI (No. 9), first NCAA Tournament top-16 seed (No. 11)
2013: First NCAA Tournament regional semifinal appearance
2015: First NCAA Tournament reginal final and national semifinal appearances, first first-team AVCA All-Americans (Kelsie Payne, Ainise Havili), highest ranking in the final AVCA poll of the season (No. 4), first win over a No. 1-ranked team (USC)
2016: First Big 12 Conference title
REGULAR-SEASON NONCONFERENCE SUCCESS
Kansas has won 35 of the last 37 matches against nonconference opponents during the regular season. That stretch includes winning 10 of the last 12 nonconference tournament titles and a 25-match winning streak. KU’s 25-match regular-season nonconference winning streak lasted from a win over North Texas on Sept. 19, 2014, to a loss at Purdue on Sept. 16, 2016.
The Jayhawks have gone undefeated through the nonconference portion of the regular season four times under head coach Ray Bechard (2000, 2002, 2004 and 2015) and are 187-30 (.862) against nonconference teams during the regular season since his arrival.
Nonconference Tourney Titles Since 2014 (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)
2017 – Wolfpack Invitational (Ainise Havili)
2017 – Wolverine Invitational (Kelsie Payne)
Senior All-Americans Kelsie Payne, Ainise Havili and Madison Rigdon are on pace to rewrite KU’s record books this season.
Havili stands second in career assists (4,363) and ninth in career digs (1,074). She passed the 4,000-assist mark with 43 assists against Missouri State (Aug. 26). Andi Rozum (2002-05) currently holds KU’s career assists record with 4,772. Havili became the 14th all-time Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career digs with 14 against NC State (Aug. 26).
Payne ranks first in career hitting percentage (.352), eighth in career kills (1,243) and 14th in career blocks (296). She now needs 240 more kills to tie the current record of 1,483 held by Josi Lima (2002-05). Last season Payne became the 15th Jayhawk to reach 1,000 kills and this weekend she is on pace to become the 13th Jayhawk to reach 300 blocks.
Rigdon ranks 16th in career kills (1,023) and is sixth in career aces (121) – with just three more aces she would catapult into third-place on KU’s list. Last week, Rigdon became the 16th Jayhawk to reach the century mark in career kills with 15 against Purdue (Sept. 8).
COUNTRY’S TOP WINNING PERCENTAGE SINCE 2015
Since the start of the 2015 season, Kansas has the highest winning percentage in the country (.904). The Jayhawks are 66-7 in the last three seasons and are the only program in NCAA Division I volleyball with a winning percentage at least .900 or higher during that period.
NCAA Division I Winning Percentage Since 2015
Through Sept. 12
1. KANSAS: 66-7 (.904)
2. WKU: 72-9 (.889)
3. Nebraska: 68-9 (.883)
4. Washington: 68-9 (.883)
5. BYU: 65-9 (.878)
6. Minnesota: 67-10 (.870)
7. Texas: 63-10 (.863)
In the last five seasons, since 2012, Kansas has simply been one the elite programs in the country with five-straight …
• NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Final Four in 2015
• Top-15 finishes in the NCAA RPI, including a No. 6 finish in 2015
• 20-win seasons, including one 30-win season in 2015
• Home winning percentages over .800
Five-straight top-15 NCAA RPI finishes
RETURNING / LOST
Kansas returns 84 percent of last season’s total points scored, including 86 percent of the team’s kills. The Jayhawks return six players with starting experience and lost two perennial starters in All-American libero Cassie Wait and four-year starting middle blocker Tayler Soucie. Right-side hitter Kelsie Payne, setter Ainise Havili, outside hitters Madison Rigdon and Jada Burse, and middle blockers Kayla Cheadle and Zoe Hill all received substantial playing time as starters in 2016.
Percentage of KU Stats Returning from 2016
Block Assists: 73%
Solo Blocks: 68%
In a four-set win over Missouri State (Aug. 26), the Jayhawks recorded 19.0 team blocks – the most in a match since posting 20.5 team rejections in a five-set win over Oklahoma on Nov. 29, 2014. KU was led by eight blocks (one solo) from sophomore Zoe Hill and seven blocks (two solo) from senior Taylor Alexander. It is just the second time Kansas has reached at least 19.0 team blocks during the 25-point rally-scoring era, since 2008. Kansas currently ranks third in the Big 12 in blocks per set (2.48).
KU 19.0-plus team blocks during 25-point rally-scoring era
19.0 vs. Missouri State; 8/26/17
20.5 at Oklahoma; 11/29/14
ANDERSON ADDED TO STAFF
Kansas volleyball head coach Ray Bechard announced on Aug. 29 the hiring of former setter Maggie Anderson ’16 to his staff as the director of volleyball operations. Anderson rejoins the Kansas volleyball program after a five-year playing career from 2012 to 2016, in which she helped the Jayhawks to 130 victories, a berth in the 2015 Final Four and the 2016 Big 12 Conference title. Anderson will help with the day-to-day operations of the program, including but not limited to travel arrangements, managing schedules, organizing summer camps and K Club relations.
HOREJSI SOLD OUT, AGAIN
For the second-consecutive season, KU’s home court, Horejsi Family Athletics Center (1,300), has sold out its allotment of season tickets. Fans hoping to attend matches this season can visit StubHub, the ‘Official Fan to Fan Ticket Marketplace’ of the Kansas Jayhawks.
MONTERO OUT FOR THE SEASON
Sophomore outside hitter Patricia Montero will not compete during the 2017 season due to an anterior cruciate ligament tear in her left knee which occurred during preseason practice. The Puerto Rico native was primed for a productive season as “nobody was playing as well as she was during our two-a-days,” head coach Ray Bechard said during media day on Wednesday, Aug. 16. Montero underwent successful reconstructive surgery in late August.
KANSAS RECEIVES THREE FIRST-PLACE VOTES IN BIG 12 POLL
Kansas was voted second with three first-place votes in the Big 12 volleyball preseason coaches’ poll this season. The Jayhawks totaled 59 points in the poll, just three shy of league favorite and the nation’s preseason top-ranked team, Texas. KU’s three first-place votes in the preseason poll are the most in program history. The Jayhawks were also picked to finished second before the 2014 and 2016 seasons – both times with one first-place vote.
PAYNE NAMED PRESEASON BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE YEAR
For the second-straight season, senior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne has been tabbed as the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year by the conference coaches. In 2016, Payne lived up to her preseason billing, becoming the first Jayhawk to earn Big 12 Player of the Year honors after leading Kansas to its first-ever Big 12 title. In addition to preseason player of the year honors, Payne and senior All-American setter Ainise Havili and senior All-American outside hitter Madison Rigdon were unanimous selections to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team.
Kansas returns three All-Americans from its 2016 Big 12 championship team, including senior right-side hitter Kelsie Payne (first-team), senior setter Ainise Havili (third team) and senior outside hitter Madison Rigdon (honorable mention). Graduated libero Cassie Wait was the fourth Jayhawk named an All-American last season, earning honorable mention distinction.
RETURNING TWO-TIME FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICANS
Senior right-side hitter Kelsie Payne (2015, 2016), Texas right-side hitter Ebony Nwanebu (2013, 2016) and Penn State middle blocker Haleigh Washington (2015, 2016) are the only three returning players in the country with two appearances on the AVCA All-America First Team. Senior setter Ainise Havili has also multiple All-America nods, but just one appearance on the first team – honorable mention in 2014, first-team in 2015 and third-team in 2016.
RIGDON, PAYNE GAIN USA VOLLEYBALL EXPERIENCE
Senior All-Americans Madison Rigdon and Kelsie Payne competed for USA Volleyball’s Collegiate National Team program during the summer of 2017. Rigdon played for the 12-player roster that toured Thailand, May 19-30, and competed in a series of exhibition matches. Payne played on the European Tour roster, winning the gold medal at the European Global Challenge in Pula, Croatia, July 11-14. Both Rigdon and Payne will see their USA Volleyball coaches as opposing coaches during the 2017 season.
SPRING HAWAII TRIP
Kansas began its offseason training with a trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, during spring break to compete against the University of Hawaii on March 21. The Jayhawks had two full days of preparation before taking on the Rainbow Wahine, who played without recently retired hall-of-fame head coach Dave Shoji for the first time in over 40 years. KU was edged by Hawaii in five sets (25-20, 20-25, 25-20, 27-25, 15-11) despite holding match point in the fourth set, which featured 14 ties and six lead changes. Ainise Havili recorded 43 assists and three kills, including a setter’s dump to give Kansas match point in the fourth set. Hawaii rallied to force a fifth set and Kansas started Havili, Kelsie Payne, Madison Rigdon and Kayla Cheadle in all five sets, and rotated position players for its second outside hitter, second middle blocker and libero positions.
2016 SEASON SUMMARY
The Jayhawks finished the 2016 season as Big 12 Champions for the first time in program history with a 27-3 overall record and 15-1 mark during conference play. After advancing to the NCAA Final Four in 2015, Kansas followed up with another flourishing campaign featuring two winning streaks longer than 10 matches, a top-10 ranking throughout the regular season (peaking at No. 4), and the program’s highest seed in the NCAA Tournament (No. 5).
The squad was led by four AVCA All-Americans in junior right-side hitter Kelsie Payne (first team), junior setter Ainise Havili (third team), senior libero Cassie Wait (honorable mention) and junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon (honorable mention). Kansas also nearly swept the Big 12 postseason awards, earning the league’s Player of the Year (Payne), Setter of the Year (Havili), Libero of the Year (Wait) and Coach of the Year (Ray Bechard).
CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF WOMEN’S SPORTS AT KU
All-Americans Kelsie Payne, Ainise Havili and Madison Rigdon are currently carving their legacies in Kansas volleyball history, but with the 2017-18 academic year underway it is a great reminder of those who pioneered and paved the way for future female student-athletes to don the Crimson and Blue. The opportunity for women to compete for the University of Kansas was solidified in 1968. This school year, then, marks the 50th season of intercollegiate women’s athletics at KU, and the Department of Athletics will take the year to celebrate this milestone. During the pregame warmup, KU will sport a commemorative T-shirt to honor the 50-year evolution of women’s sports in the athletics department. These commemorative T-shirts will be worn throughout the year by all female Jayhawk student-athletes prior to each competition. In addition, several events are being scheduled and planned, including KU volleyball’s alumni reunion on Saturday, Sept. 9 before the Creighton match.
Kansas begins Big 12 Conference play on national TV as ESPN2 will televise the first installment of the 2017 Dillons Sunflower Showdown on Sunday, Sept. 24 in Manhattan.
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