Kansas Volleyball Celebrates 2014 Season
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Every year, every season the Kansas volleyball team gathers to celebrate the year that was. Together, they relive memories made in the fall, hand out awards and enjoy each other’s company. Yet, the tradition never loses its touch.
Sunday afternoon inside the Kansas Union’s Big 12 Room, head coach Ray Bechard and the Jayhawks held the annual tradition for the 2014 season. A year that had the potential to be a rebuilding one due to the seven freshmen joining seven returners.
“We were not going to allow our program to take a step backward,” Bechard said in his banquet speech. “When you lose a two-time All-American, the all-time digs leader, the Big 12 Setter of the Year and you bring in seven freshmen – it might be easy to take a step back. We decided as a staff and as a team that we weren’t going to.”
He was right. For the second-straight season, KU finished second place in the Big 12. Playing the NCAA’s sixth-toughest schedule, the Jayhawks earned a national seed in the NCAA Tournament for the third-straight season (No. 16). In the Big 12, the Jayhawk offense led the league in kills (1,627) and ranked second in kills per set (13.79), assists per set (12.82) assists (1,513) and digs (1,811).
Stats aside, the banquet is reserved more for family time – both team and biological – than numbers. Bechard took the time to thank everyone on his coaching and support staffs, paying close attention to leave no one out. His mentors, the team bus driver, radio broadcasters, student managers, associate athletics director of academic and career counseling, massage therapist and many more made the ‘thank you’ list. He also gave a special thanks to certified athletic trainer Aimee Miyazawa for her nearly 10 years of incredible service to the team as she moves on to become the head athletic trainer for the USA Volleyball’s beach national teams.
Prominent members in attendance included Bechard’s wife, Pam, and their family, Marlene Mawson, a major pioneer in women’s athletics at Kansas, Max Falkenstien and Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger. Dr. Zenger took the podium to address the team, as did Associate Athletics Director Jim Marchiony, who also serves as the sport administrator.
“Every year I issue this team a challenge: keep pushing,” Zenger said. “You’ve accomplished a lot. I’m so proud of you, but you’ve got to keep pushing. There’s another rung to climb so set the bar high.”
After the meal, the group watched the infamous yearly blooper and highlight videos, the team received the class gifts and posed for photos on photos.
TEAM HONORS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- No. 16 Overall National Seed: Third-consecutive season to earn an NCAA Tournament national seed and host the First and Second Rounds.
- Change of Scenery: Due to Allen Fieldhouse hosting a men’s basketball game, KU volleyball hosted the first and second rounds in the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka.
- Best Big 12 Finish, Again: Kansas tied for second place, making that back-to-back years the Jayhawks finished second in the Big 12 standings.
- 20 Wins: Kansas posted a 22-9 record in 2014, the third-straight year that KU hit the 20-win mark (26-17, 2012; 25-8, 2013). The three-year streak is a first for Jayhawk volleyball since the 1980-1981-1982 seasons.
- NCAA RPI: KU completed the year at No. 11 in the RPI and has not been outside of the top-30 in three full seasons.
INDIVIDUAL HONORS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- AVCA All-America Honorable Mention: Chelsea Albers, Ainise Havili
- AVCA All-Midwest Region First Team: Chelsea Albers, Ainise Havili
- All-Big 12 First Team: Chelsea Albers, Tayler Soucie
- All-Big 12 Honorable Mention: Tiana Dockery, Ainise Havili, Sara McClinton
- Big 12 All-Freshman Team: Ainise Havili, Kelsie Payne
- Academic All-Big 12 First Team: Sara McClinton, Tayler Soucie, Cassie Wait
- Academic All-Big 12 Second Team: Chelsea Albers, Maggie Anderson
- The Big 12 awarded a program-record six Jayhawks with all-conference honors – the most of any team in the league.
- Two-time Big 12 Coach of the Year, Ray Bechard, wrapped up his 30th overall season as a head coach in 2014 and his 17th with the Jayhawks. He holds a career record of 1,011-286 and will start the 2015 season just five wins away from his 300th at Kansas (295-226).
- The Jayhawks earned a national seed in the NCAA Tournament for the third-straight season (No. 16). KU joined perennial volleyball powers Stanford, Texas, Washington, Penn State, Florida, Kentucky and Nebraska as the only other teams in the country to earn a national seed in each of the last three years.
- After starting 0-3 in Big 12 play, the Jayhawks won 10 of their last 13 conference contests to finish the season tied for second place in the Big 12. Prior to 2013, Kansas had never finished second – now the team has done it twice in a row.
- During the regular season, KU played 10 teams that received an NCAA Tournament berth in 2014 and the Jayhawks went 7-7 against them.
- Kansas played the NCAA’s sixth-hardest schedule in the country in 2014.
- In the Big 12, the Jayhawk offense led the league in kills (1,627) and ranked second in kills per set (13.79), assists per set (12.82) assists (1,513) and digs (1,811). KU’s overall winning percentage (22-9, .710) tied for second among its conference counterparts.
- The Jayhawks sold-out a program record seven home matches in 2014. KU averaged 1,205 fans per match this season, which ranked fourth in the Big 12 and 31st in the NCAA.
- Freshman setter Ainise Havili set the tone in the conference with her 1,332 assists and 11.29 assists per set, both of which were the best by all Big 12 setters in 2014 and were among the top-20 in the nation. What’s more, her 1,332 assists broke the KU freshman record.
- Havili also chalked up 14 double-doubles on the year (assists/digs) – the third-most DDs in the Big 12 and the most by a freshman. That also tied her for 10th-most in a season at Kansas.
- Sophomore middle blocker Tayler Soucie completed the season as the conference’s blocking leader. Her 1.40 blocks per set ranked 18th in the NCAA.
- Sophomore libero Cassie Wait became the third Jayhawk in program history to surpass 500 digs in a season (Brianne Riley twice, Catalina Suarez). Her 561 digs were the second-most all-time at Kansas in a single season, while her 4.75 dig average was the program’s third-best.
- Senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers became just the seventh Jayhawk in history to post 900-career kills and 800-career digs in a single-season.
- Senior outside hitter Sara McClinton finished her tenure in sixth place on KU’s all-time career kills list. McClinton had 1,272 for four-year career, landing her just 10 kills short of Amanda Reves’ fifth all-time 1,282 kills from 2008-11.
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