Kansas Welcomes Neighbor UMKC on Tuesday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Returning home from the first road trip of the season with a tournament title in tow and back in tha national rankings, No. 24 Kansas will play host to the UMKC Kangaroos in a midweek meeting inside the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
AROUND THE GYM
- Hike and Spike: $3 admission with KU vs. SEMO football ticket
- Jay Days: $2 hot dog and popcorn, $1 mini-cone
- Family Four-Pack: Two adult/two youth tickets for $20
vs. UMKC (KU leads, 31-1): The ‘Roos and the Jayhawks will meet for the 33rd time on Tuesday. The teams have a long history as they’ve played each other every year since 1997, with the exception of the 2011 season when UMKC head coach Christi Posey left her assistant coaching position at Kansas for the head coaching spot at UMKC. The Jayhawks are 22-0 in the all-time series in matches played in Lawrence, 6-0 in matches held in Kansas City and 3-1 against the ‘Roos on neutral territory.
FOLLOW THE JAYHAWKS
Fans can listen to radio play-by-play for free on KUAthletics.com, found under the Fan Central tab. Adam Drovetta will have the call. Fans can also monitor the action by following @KUVolleyball on Twitter.
The Kansas vs. UMKC match will air on ESPN3.com. Leif Lisec and former Kansas volleyball standout Jill (Dorsey) Hall will provide the analysis. Fans can also monitor the action by following @KUVolleyball on Twitter.
- In its 40th season of volleyball, Kansas is looking to pile on wins after achieving the 700-win milestone in the first match of the season. The Jayhawks now stand at 704.
- Back-to-back defending Big 12 Coach of the Year, Ray Bechard, is in his 30th overall season as a head coach in 2014 and his 17th with the Jayhawks. The winningest coach in KU volleyball history is sitting at 994 career wins.
- KU has played in two tournaments and came away with two tournament wins in the opening two weeks of the season, winning its own Kansas Invitational and then going on the road to sweep through the Pioneer Classic undefeated.
- Senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers was named the Pioneer Classic Tournament MVP, the first such award of her career.
- Freshman setter Ainise Havili earned All-Tournament Team honors for the second time in as many weeks. She led the Big 12 this week with 12.90 assists per set. Overall, she upped her season average to 11.14.
- Senior outside hitter Sara McClinton recorded her 1,000th career kill on Friday against Bradley. She is the 14th player in school history to join the 1,000-kill club.
- Sophomore middle blocker Janae Hall made her first start of the season last Friday against Bradley. She went on to lead the team with eight blocks for the weekend, while hitting a sharp .390.
Kansas knocked off No. 23 Creighton in its home invitational on Aug. 30, making six-straight seasons that the Jayhawks defeated a nationally-ranked team. After a 3-0 weekend at the Pioneer Classic, Kansas jumped back on the AVCA Top-25 poll at No. 24. Since 2012, Kansas has either been in the Top-25 or received votes on 26 of the last 29 national polls.
KANSAS vs. CONFERENCE KINGS
The Jayhawks’ strength of schedule last season helped the team continue its top-15 RPI reign for the last two years. The 2014 slate won’t be any different. Kansas is slated to play seven teams that were picked to win their respective conferences: Lipscomb (Atlantic Sun), Creighton (BIG EAST), Denver (The Summit League), Yale (Ivy League), American (Patriot League), Penn State (Big Ten) and Texas (Big 12). So far, Kansas is 2-1 against the preseason league favorites.
Senior outside hitter Sara McClinton chalked up her 1,000th career kill in the Jayhawks’ win against Bradley (9/6) at the University of Denver’s Pioneer Classic. She is the 14th Jayhawk all-time to reach the 1,000-kill mark at Kansas. She is also one of two active Big 12 players with 1,000 kills to their name. The other is two-time Big 12 Player of the Year, Texas senior Haley Eckerman.
In their first true road contest, at Denver (9/6) Jayhawk freshmen Kayla Cheadle and Madison Rigdon were red hot. The duo teamed up for 40 kills and six blocks in the win, but even more impressively, they were major contributors to the Jayhawks’ fight in set three. They clawed back from an 8-1 deficit to tie the score at 21-21, 22-22, 23-23, 24-24. In the third set alone, Cheadle crushed seven kills on seven swings, while Rigdon slammed eight.
SET ‘EM UP
In the sixth match of her career, freshman setter Ainise Havili distributed the ball flawlessly to help Kansas beat previously undefeated Denver. Playing in her first true road match, Havili racked up 55 assists – tied for the 20th-most assists by a Jayhawk in a single match (10th-most by a freshman).
Senior outside hitters Chelsea Albers and Sara McClinton have numerous accolades and records in their illustrious careers. The duo achieved All-America status last season and this year, Albers has passed the 600 kills/600 digs mark while McClinton joined the 1,000 career kills club. Add pre-conference tournament titles to the list. After last weekend’s Pioneer Classic, the 2014 senior class has won a remarkable 11 tournament titles.
SCALING THE STAT LEADERBOARD
Already looking quite comfortable in their new positions, freshman setter Ainise Havili and sophomore libero Cassie Wait are climbing up the Big 12 statistic rankings. After leading the league with 12.90 assists per set last weekend, Havili moved up to third in the conference with 11.14 assists per set overall. Wait was equally phenomenal on the digs side as her 5.90 digs per set average this week was second among her Big 12 counterparts, and she now ranks third in the conference at 5.05 overall.
SCOUTING UMKC (4-2 Overall, 0-0 WAC)
In its first year as a member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), UMKC finished the 2013 season 9-7 in league play and 15-14 overall. Led by head coach Christi Posey, the UMKC match is always a meaningful one to KU’s Ray Bechard as Posey served as an assistant on his staff for 11 seasons before taking over at UMKC in 2011. The ‘Roos were picked fourth in the 2014 preseason poll and will also play their first midweek match on Tuesday.
UMKC opened its season at the Hilton Omaha Classic, hosted by Nebraska-Omaha, Aug. 29-30. After dropping a close season opener to Drake in five sets, UMKC bounced back for wins against Central Michigan and the host school. On Sept. 5-6, the ‘Roos traveled to South Dakota State for the Jackrabbit Invitational where they defeated the host school and Stephen F. Austin.
UMKC’s roster is nearly opposite the Jayhawks’ as the ‘Roos boast an upperclassmen-laden squad. Junior outside hitter Sydney Crimmins and junior middle blocker Emma Hagedorn were each named to the WAC All-Preseason Team, while fellow junior outside hitter Jessica Hendlin leads the offense with 3.08 kills and 3.83 digs per set. Senior middle blocker Melissa Hartsel leads the defense with her 1.08 blocking average. The ‘Roos use two setters in junior Nicole Wemhoff and sophomore Kaylyn Brandt. Behind the line, junior libero Taryn Miller sets the tone with 5.12 digs per frame.
HEAD COACH RAY BECHARD
On UMKC being a fun match:
“Oh yeah, Coach Posey has meant a lot to Kansas volleyball and she now has her program up and running. I know they are getting better each and every year, each and every day. I think she feels like she has a team this year that can be extremely competitive within their league.”
On facing a tough WAC – previously The Summit League – opponent:
“It’s a good league. UMKC will come in here excited about its opportunity. That’s what we’ve got to sense is how excited other teams might be to compete against us, and we’ve obviously got to match that energy.”
On half of this team playing its first road matches ever and then playing again on Tuesday:
“It’s a quick turnaround. Midweek matches can have their challenges after a tough weekend of travel, but UMKC traveled, too. We’ve got to be used to playing every three or four days when Big 12 play starts, so we’ll be ready to go.”
On getting to play a single match:
“This will have a lot of the same feel, set-up wise, that it will when conference starts. Obviously, we play more on Wednesdays instead of Tuesdays, but it’s good to have a midweek match where they get used to getting their business taken care of with school, being mindful of any distractions and getting themselves ready to go.”
Kansas will turn its focus to one of the most difficult pre-conference tournaments in the Bechard era when the Jayhawks travel to Philadelphia for the Villanova Invitational, Sept. 12-13. The Jayhawks will square off against the host school, Villanova, to open the elite weekend. KU then takes on four-time Ivy League defending champion, Yale, to close day one. Saturday will prove as the ultimate test for Kansas, matching up against a fellow Sweet 16 team, American, in the morning and finishing the weekend with defending NCAA Champion, Penn State.
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