Kansas Picked Third in Big 12 Preseason Poll

Complete Big 12 Volleyball Preseason Poll
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After securing its best Big 12 Conference finish in program history a year ago, the Kansas volleyball team was given its best preseason ranking a year later as the league picked the Jayhawks to finish third in the 2013 Big 12 Preseason Coaches’ Poll Wednesday.
Led by reigning Big 12 Coach of the Year, Ray Bechard, Kansas’ third-place preseason selection (51 points) marks the highest in program history, topping the previous best of fifth in 2005. Defending national champion Texas (64 points) earned the top preseason spot among league coaches, while Iowa State (55 points) was slated second.
“The preseason poll definitely has some relevance to build interest and it’s a necessary process, obviously,” Bechard said. “There’s no question it’s a tough league when the national champion is at the top of the poll. I’m much more interested in what happens in late November versus peoples’ opinions in early August, but it is nice to see us raising the bar for ourselves. Now we have to get to work.”
Bechard made that a common mindset during the Jayhawks’ record-breaking 2012 season that saw his team finish the year ranked No. 25 on the final AVCA poll and post the highest winning percentage for a season in program history (.788). Although the Jayhawks enjoyed numerous accolades, including the first KU volleyball All-American in Caroline Jarmoc and his own AVCA Central Region Coach of the Year award, Bechard never failed to turn individual successes back to team effort.
Ready to work toward new achievements in 2013, Kansas returns more than 80 percent of its scoring from a potent offense last fall. The Jayhawks were ranked in the Big 12 and the NCAA in nearly every statistic: 13.20 assists per set (2nd Big 12, 30th NCAA), 2.62 blocks per set (2nd Big 12, 31st NCAA), 14.13 kills per set (3rd Big 12, 34th NCAA), .238 attack percentage (4th Big 12, 57th NCAA), 16.07 digs per set (2nd Big 12, 90th NCAA) and a .788 winning percentage (2nd Big 12, T-22nd NCAA).
The Jayhawks went 26-7 overall and 12-4 in the league standings for a third-place finish, their highest in the Big 12 era. Earning the first national seed in the NCAA Tournament at No. 11, Kansas hosted the first and second rounds inside Allen Fieldhouse and was supported by the highest attendance of any NCAA regional host site.
Jarmoc, a redshirt senior middle blocker, will lead the eight-member senior class. The veteran class also includes the 2012 Big 12’s assists leader in setter Erin McNorton and KU’s all-time digs leader in libero Brianne Riley. All-Big 12 First Team honoree, junior outside hitter Sara McClinton, and sophomore outside hitter Tiana Dockery, an All-Big 12 Freshman Team member in 2012, also return as the Jayhawks look to raise expectations again in 2013.
Jarmoc, McNorton and McClinton were all named to the 2013 Big 12 Preseason Team on Tuesday. KU joined Iowa State and Texas as the only schools to have three players earn preseason honors.
Adding to their elite core of returners, the Jayhawks also welcome three true freshmen (Emma Hanson, 6-0, OH, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Tayler Soucie, 6-1, MB, Osawatomie, Kan.; Cassie Wait, 5-8, DS/L, Gardner, Kan.) and two redshirt freshmen (Maggie Anderson, 5-8, S, Lincoln, Neb.; Janae Hall, 6-1, MB, Centennial, Colo.) to the 2013 roster.
Hanson made her senior campaign at Sioux Falls Washington High School a memorable one, recording 364 kills on a .328 attack percentage, 325 digs and 33 aces. The Warriors were District Champions for the second-straight season and advanced to the 2A State Championship, where they finished as runners up. Hanson was named All-Conference, All-State, All-Tournament, Team MVP as well as the ESPN 99.1 Athlete of the Week.
Soucie’s 779 kills during her senior season at Osawatomie High School led the country. One of the middle blockers preparing to fill the hole left by four-year starter Tayler Tolefree, Soucie posted 138 solo blocks and a .572 attack percentage, while leading her team to a runner-up finish in the Sub-State Championship in 2012. Aside from Tri-County Player of the Year honors, Soucie was also named All-League First Team, All-State Second Team and All-Metro Second Team.
Wait, who will be groomed to play the back row in college rather than her outside hitter role at Gardner Edgerton High School, comes in with impressive accolades. As an outside hitter, Wait had a highlight reel senior campaign that saw her claim 6A Player of the Year, Under Armour Girls High School All-America First Team and Kansas Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year honors.
The 2013 Jayhawks report to campus on Aug. 9 and officially begin preseason camp, Saturday, Aug. 10. Kansas will take the court for the first time in its annual Crimson and Blue Match on Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. Located in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, the event is free and open to the public.

Rank Team (First-place Votes) Points
1. Texas (8) 64
2. Iowa State (1) 55
3. Kansas 51
4. Kansas State 41
5. Oklahoma 39
6. Baylor 28
7. TCU    19
Texas Tech 19
9. West Virginia 8

KUAthletics.com:  The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.