Volleyball Receives Final Four Rings

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas volleyball team has been hard at work making preparations during spring workouts to build upon an unprecedented 2015 season, in which KU advanced to the Final Four during a record-setting season.

Every weekday morning at 6 a.m. this spring the Jayhawks have been reporting to Horejsi Family Athletics Center for weight training and practice. But Tuesday morning was different.

Arriving at the facility just like any other day, the Jayhawks were surprised by their coaches with an off-day and breakfast at a local Lawrence establishment. If an off-day from spring practice wasn’t treat enough, the coaches arranged to have their NCAA semifinalist rings waiting on them when they arrived at their table.

“We had no idea we were going to receive them today,” said sophomore Kelsie Payne, a member of the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team. “We thought we were just having breakfast, but then saw these boxes on the table. Looking at the rings brought back memories of season as a group – the wins, the losses, and all the things we had to fight through to get to the Final Four. We made history, so every time I wear it I’m going to remember all the great things we accomplished.”

Kansas set season program records for winning percentage (.909), winning streak (W19), hitting percentage (.299), individual kills (Kelsie Payne, 496), and individual digs per set (Cassie Wait, 5.19). The Jayhawks advanced to the NCAA Championship semifinals for the first time in program history and ended the season with a program-best No. 4 ranking in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll.

“It was a pretty cool feeling to see our student-athletes’ joy and satisfaction receiving these rings,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “It was a nice break from a pretty intense spring, to step back from what we are doing and go back to that point in time when we made an unprecedented run. The chance to present their rings brought all that back – the sense of accomplishment, sense of hard work paying off, and the sense of representing KU at the highest level.”

The rings, made by Jostens, came in men’s and women’s sizes and were given to all 16 student-athletes on the 2015 roster, the coaching staff, and the support staff – totaling 40 rings and three pendants.

“We wanted this ring to be functional – something that they could wear regularly and capture the essence of our brand,” Bechard concluded. “We thought that was done extremely tastefully.”

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