2013 Volleyball Season Outlook: Outside Hitters

Player Preview – Catherine Carmichael
LAWRENCE, Kan. – In the conclusion of the four-part series, the 2013 Kansas volleyball season outlook wraps up with an in-depth look at the outside and right-side hitters.
Returning: Jr. Chelsea Albers, RS Sr. Catherine Carmichael, So. Tiana Dockery, Jr. Sara McClinton
Gained: Fr. Emma Hanson
Key Losses: None
Returning the entire arsenal from last year’s roster and adding another to the mix, Kansas volleyball’s outside hitters are poised for another explosive season in 2013.
In 33 matches played in 2012, Kansas welcomes back its kills leaders from 32 of them – and 84 percent overall. Additionally, the Jayhawks return every outside attacker from an offense that outhit opponents in all but eight matches last fall. While KU’s offense hit .300 or better 18 times in 2012, the Jayhawks allowed an opponent the same luxury just once.
Although the Jayhawks’ returning kills leader comes from the middle blocker position in senior All-American Caroline Jarmoc, KU’s outside and right-side hitters racked up nearly 1,000 kills as a unit in 2012. Only three players in the Big 12 last year – including Jarmoc – recorded more than junior Sara McClinton’s 388 kills in 2012. The Omaha, Neb., native became the first sophomore at KU to earn All-Big 12 First Team honors since Josi Lima earned the award in 2003. She finished the season ranked in the league’s top-10 in kills per set and points per set (overall and conference-only), while becoming just the fourth player in program history to surpass 600+ kills in two years.
During a two-week stint playing for the Bring It Promotions/USA Development Program in China this summer, McClinton was able to begin work on becoming a threat from the back row as she looks to expand her role as an upperclassman.
The other half of the two-member junior class, Chelsea Albers, fought off an early-season injury last year and started the last 12 matches. A six-rotation player, Albers broke the 100 mark for both kills and digs and posted at least one block in all but two matches she played in 2012.
Sophomore Tiana Dockery comes back to the court after an All-Big 12 Freshman Team season in 2012. Also a six-rotation player, Dockery and Albers split starts a year ago and will provide invaluable depth this fall. In 20 starts last year, she surpassed the 150-plateau for kills and digs.
Still reeling with scoring possibilities, redshirt senior Catherine Carmichael has become one of head coach Ray Bechard’s most trusted scoring options. A 6-2 Manhattan, Kan., native, Carmichael provides an offensive spark that saw her lead the Jayhawks to comeback victories at Oklahoma and Kansas State in 2012. Bechard raves about her transition to an elite Big 12 attacker being complete for her senior campaign.
Head coach Ray Bechard
On the outside hitters:
“We’ve got a lot of versatility. Tiana Dockery and Chelsea Albers can move around, and Sara McClinton is working that way, too. Cathy (Carmichael) can designate block if we need her to. Emma (Hanson) is more of a one-foot attacker, so we’ll probably put her a little more on the right side or in the middle. We need to stay healthy at that position so we’ll have multiple combinations. We can match up physically with another team’s best attacker and we can get the matchups we want to get against their blockers. From an outside hitting position, we’d like to have a little more ball control and we continue to work toward that. It’s a physical group that can score points attacking or blocking.”
On having a veteran team:
“We’re old. I don’t know if we’re veteran. Obviously, with two fifth-year players on the roster and seven seniors total – they’ve been together quite a while. I think that speaks well to the immediate future and what we’re trying to get done. Plus, we also have two juniors (Chelsea Albers and Sara McClinton) that have started a lot of matches and played extensively and a sophomore (Tiana Dockery) who did that as well. So everyone that is returning has had a role with us. I would consider us a veteran team, for sure.”
On how a senior-laden team is beneficial:
“They should understand how hard it is in our league, since they’ve been here a while. They’ve been on the good side and the not-so-good side, so they understand both of those emotions. I think they can draw from that to motivate them and drive them through the season.”
Kansas head coaches Ray Bechard, Mark Francis and Stanley Redwine will preview the 2013 seasons for volleyball, soccer and cross country at the fall sports media day on Aug. 21 at 1:30 p.m. inside the Allen Fieldhouse media room. Select student-athletes from each team will also be made available to speak with the media following the coaches. Lunch will be provided for those media members in attendance
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