No. 20 Kansas Travels to PAC-12 Country to Open Season
Kansas Match Notes (PDF)
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Pent-up momentum from a highlight-reel 2012 season will finally be uncapped when the 20th-ranked Kansas volleyball team travels to Tucson, Ariz., to start the 2013 slate at the Arizona Invitational, Aug. 30-31.
Ranked 20th in the American Volleyball Coaches’ Association (AVCA) Top-25 Preseason Poll for the first time since the poll’s inception and coming off the best winning percentage in school history, the Jayhawks were ready to get on the court as soon as they left it last December. Fueled by motivation to make 2013 an even bigger success than 2012, Kansas will begin its quest with nine of its first 10 matches on the road. While playing away from the 29th-largest home crowd in the NCAA last year is never ideal, 16-year head coach Ray Bechard is confident in his team’s maturity and ability to handle the early uphill climb.
Arizona resides in the PAC-12, one of the NCAA’s premier volleyball conferences, and will welcome Central Arkansas, Morgan State and Kansas to Tucson this weekend.
-Friday, 8/30: Kansas vs. Central Arkansas – 1 p.m. CT
-Saturday, 8/31: Kansas vs. Morgan State – 2:30 p.m. CT
-Saturday, 8/31: Kansas at Arizona – 9 p.m. CT
-Central Arkansas: First Meeting
-Morgan State: First Meeting
-Arizona: First Meeting
FOLLOW THE JAYHAWKS
The Arizona vs. Kansas match will be available through an online live stream on ArizonaWildcats.com. Fans can also monitor the action on GameTracker or by following @KUVolleyball on Twitter.
Kansas will open its 39th volleyball season on Friday, and for the eighth-consecutive year that opener comes on the road. Dating back to the 1975 season, the Jayhawks are 23-15 in their first match of the year, thanks in large part to their current coach. In his 16th season at Kansas, coaching veteran Ray Bechard is 13-2 in season openers.
The Jayhawks open the 2013 season ranked No. 20 on the AVCA Division I Preseason Poll. That marks KU’s first preseason ranking since the AVCA began the preseason poll in 1982.
In all, Kansas will play 11 matches against eight teams in the top-25 or receiving votes on the early poll, including a home-and-home series with defending national champion and preseason No. 1, Texas. Iowa State sits at No. 15 on the preseason list, while non-conference foe, Creighton, is No. 25. Upcoming opponents Oklahoma, Kansas State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame each received votes.
BIG 12 PREDICTIONS
Kansas enjoyed another preseason first as the Big 12 Conference coaches voted the Jayhawks to a third-place finish in the league’s preseason poll. KU’s 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.
Redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc, who earned AVCA Second Team All-America status at the conclusion of the 2012 season, led the Jayhawks on the 2013 All-Big 12 Preseason Team, earning the nod for the second-straight season, while senior setter Erin McNorton and junior outside hitter Sara McClinton are first-time members. Reigning national champion Texas and Iowa State were the only other league schools to land three honorees. KU’s trio also marks the most Jayhawks on the Preseason Team since 2004.
SCOUTING CENTRAL ARKANSAS (0-0, 0-0 Southland)
One of seven teams in the country to crack the 30-win mark in 2012, Central Arkansas would go on to win its third Southland Conference regular-season title in four years, the team’s first Southland Conference Tournament crown. After their first NCAA Tournament appearance in team history, the Sugar Bears are much like the Jayhawks in their readiness to get out of the gate following a historic season.
In his sixth year with the program, head coach David McFatrich and his staff will rely on a trio of preseason All-SLC players for stability early in the season. Senior setter Marissa Collins, who ranked third nationally with 12.44 assists per set while being named the SLC’s Setter of the Year last season, will key the Central Arkansas offense. Junior middle blocker Alicia Dittrich earned All-SLC first team honors after posting a hitting percentage of .374, the highest in school history, while senior right side Jessica Nagy came to life in the second half of the season, earning All-SLC Tournament honors.
SCOUTING MORGAN STATE (0-0, 0-0 MEAC)
Led by 26-year head coach Ramona Riley-Bozier, Morgan State was picked to finish fifth in the 2013 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) preseason poll. A year ago, the Lady Bears were chosen to finish third, but ended the season at 5-21 overall, 4-8 in the MEAC and finished fifth.
The Bears return nine letterwinners, including six starters, from the 2012 roster. Sophomore outside hitter Arianna Hayden led the team with 2.55 kills per set last year, helping MSU to a 10.38 k/s average. Defensively, junior libero Tamara Leslie also returns to the floor after pacing the team with 2.59 digs per set in 2012. At the net, senior captain Janelle Wilson and her team-leading .79 blocking average will head up the middles.
SCOUTING ARIZONA (0-0, 0-0 PAC-12)
The Wildcats return 10 letterwinners, including six starters from a 2012 squad that finished with a 16-15 overall record. Now in his 22nd season at the helm of the Arizona program, head coach Dave Rubio has added eight newcomers to the team, comprised of six freshmen and two transfers – including two-time All-Conference honoree Jane Croson (Hawaii).
Junior outside hitter Madi Kingdon leads the core of returners following an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention season in 2012. She racked up 443 kills (3.96 p/s), 319 digs (2.85 p/s), 44 blocks and 16 service aces. Earlier this month, she was named to the inaugural Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference Team. She ranked in the top-10 of the Pac-12 in both kills and points last season.
Fellow outside hitter, junior Taylor Arizobal, had a productive sophomore campaign as she ranked second on the squad with 320 kills (2.83 k/s) and 378 points to go along with 170 digs, 45 blocks and 29 service aces. Her 0.26 service aces per set ranked 10th in the Pac-12. She was one of just three members of Arizona’s team to play in all 113 sets during the season.
HEAD COACH RAY BECHARD
On starting the season against Central-Arkansas:
“They’ve been building a nice situation down there for a few years, and they really had a breakthrough year last year. They won their regular season and their postseason conference championship, which is very hard to do. So they’ve got a lot of momentum going. They’ve got a great setter and a lot of good players around her. It will be a match that will require our full attention for sure.”
On Morgan State:
“They were a late addition to the tournament, but I know they’re always competitive within their conference. There are different levels of conferences across the country. Once again you respect every opponent, you give every opponent your best effort and that’s certainly what we’ll do.”
On playing PAC-12 Arizona:
“They were young last year and I know they feel like they’ve got a lot of momentum with the experience they’ve got returning, plus a really quality transfer. Certainly they’re not overwhelmed by playing high level opponents because they see a lot of those in their league, so that will be a tremendous test for us. Not only a good team, but a good team on the road.”
On the lineup:
“We’re pretty solid in a couple spots, but the good part of it is I think that our setter depth is very good. We have four pin players who are competing for three spots. We have two middles competing for a last spot. Bri (Riley) will be our starting libero, but the DS position is still very fluid. I think it’s a good opportunity for us to continue to evaluate and keep those positions competitive.”
On front runners for the second middle spot:
“Janae (Hall) and (Tayler) Soucie will both play and they have both done a nice job. Janae is a little more familiar having been in the program a year, but Tayler had a really good two-a-day preseason camp, so both will play this weekend and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
Kansas will stay closer to home for its first midweek game of the year, traveling to Kansas City, Mo., to face UMKC on Tuesday, Sept. 3. The Jayhawks and the ‘Roos are set to square off at 7 p.m. inside the Swinney Recreation Center.
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