2014 Volleyball Season Outlook: Setters

2014 Season Outlook: Setters
Maggie Anderson, So. 5-8
Ainise Havili, Fr. 5-10
Erin McNorton 5-9
Kara Wehrs 5-10

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Last season, the Kansas offense broke the program record for attack percentage (.254), downing the previous record of .246 set in 2003. For the first time in Big 12 history, KU led the league in kills (1,801) and assists (1,694) in 2013. In fact, KU’s 1,801 kills were the most by any Big 12 team since 2007. The last installment of a four-part series previews the setters.
The same opposing teams that were looking forward to the departure of Caroline Jarmoc are likely equally as relieved that Erin McNorton also graduated in 2013. McNorton led the league in assists for the last two seasons and stayed within the top-five setters in the country, as well. As a senior, McNorton helped the KU offense break its attack percentage record, led the team in double-doubles and earned the Jayhawks’ first Big 12 Setter of the Year award.
A player like that cannot be replaced – but Kansas came close. Instead, the Jayhawks bring back one setter who trained with McNorton for two seasons in Maggie Anderson, and another who represented the U.S. on the Women’s Junior National Team this summer in Ainise Havili.
“They are two fun kids and they work hard,” Bechard said. “Maggie is fun to be around and it’s been fun to watch her development. She will be invaluable as to how that position develops. We have high hopes for Ainise to come in and be competitive right from the start, as we do all of our players, but she brings a good level of competitive experience already. However, she hasn’t set for very long. We lost the Big 12 Setter of the Year and we hope we can make that a smooth transition.” 
With McNorton running last year’s team from the setter position, Anderson made herself a serving specialist. She was called upon in late-game situations repeatedly, proving her ability to handle pressure. After McNorton and Kara Wehrs completed their careers, Anderson took over the spring season as the team’s only setter. Her learning speed had no choice but to be off the charts, and Bechard was more than pleased with her progress.
Havili went through a similar learning push, although under a bigger spotlight. One summer after leading her TAV club team to the 2013 National Championship and collecting MVP honors, Havili was one of only two setters that made the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team. The WJNT went on to win gold at the 2014 NORCECA Continental Championship last month.
“Our setters are prepared because of what Maggie went through this spring and what Ainise went through this spring and summer,” Bechard said. “Their off-season experience really helped that position. Ainise had to go through a lot of pressure with that tryout process to make that team. She kind of came out of nowhere. When she was on her official visit last year, her mom came up to me and said, ‘My kid needs to be ready for that?!’ But she will be fine. Plus, she and Maggie will help each other.”
Bechard works primarily with the setters and agreed that it had been quite some time since KU has carried just two setters on its roster. According to him, however, it won’t be an issue.
“Two is a comfortable number if they both stay healthy,” Bechard said. “Two is fine. Sometimes when you’re running drills it’s not as good, but when you’re training and only two people are splitting reps instead of three, it is better.”
KU will host its annual Crimson and Blue alumni match on Saturday, Aug. 23 at 1 p.m., inside the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. The event is free and open to the public.
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