Kansas Opens Big 12 Play Against TCU

Kansas vs. TCU
Horejsi Family Athletics Center // Lawrence
Sept. 28, 2013
Date Saturday, 1 p.m.
TV Time Warner Cable Metro Sports
Audio Jayhawk Digital Passport
Video KUAthletics.com/ESPN
Notes Kansas | TCU | Big 12

LAWRENCE, Kan. – A road-heavy non-conference lineup that featured opponents from almost every major conference has the Kansas volleyball team prepared to open the Big 12 slate on Saturday when the Jayhawks welcome TCU to the Horejsi Family Athletics Center for a 1 p.m. match.
· Father/Daughter Night – Buy Adult GA receive one Youth GA ticket for free
· Youth Volleyball Night – $3 admission for kids in club uniforms
· Free popcorn to first 100 students
SERIES HISTORY vs. TCU (Kansas leads, 2-1): Prior to TCU’s first season in the Big 12 in 2012, the Jayhawks and Horned Frogs had only played once previously – a five-set TCU win during the 1999 season. KU swept the season series a year ago, winning at home in four close sets and on the road in Fort Worth with a convincing sweep.
Fans can listen to radio play-by-play on the Jayhawk Digital Passport, found under the Fan Central tab on KUAthletics.com. Subscriptions are available in daily ($2.95), monthly ($6.95) and yearly ($49.95) increments. Aaron Berlin will have the call.
For those that can’t make it to the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, KU’s Big 12 opener will air on Time Warner Cable Metro Sports and ESPN3.com. Fans can access the TV stream by going to ESPN3.com or visiting KUAthletics.com/ESPN. Leif Lisec and former Kansas volleyball player Jill Dorsey-Hall will provide the analysis. For more information on accessing Kansas video content, visit KUAthletics.com/TV. Fans can also monitor the action on Live Stats or by following @KUVolleyball on Twitter.
· Big 12 play officially started on Wednesday with Texas playing TCU and Oklahoma facing West Virginia. The Jayhawks played an exhibition match against the U-23 Italian National Team that night, the first mid-season exhibition match in the Ray Bechard era.
· In three non-conference tournaments in 2013, Kansas finished with two outright titles (Kansas Invitational, InnTowner Invitational) and a share of the third (Arizona Invitational).
· The Jayhawks enter conference action on a six-match winning streak, tying the second-longest victory span from last season. KU posted win streaks of five, six and nine matches in 2012.
· Kansas has seen four Jayhawks honored by the Big 12 in the last three-consecutive weeks. The latest installment is freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie and senior setter Erin McNorton. The duo earned Big 12 Rookie and Offensive Player of the Week, respectively, on Sept. 23 – career firsts for both.
· In one of the most difficult schedules in Bechard’s 16 years, KU faced teams from the ACC (Notre Dame), the PAC-12 (Arizona), the SEC (Arkansas, Georgia), the BIG EAST (Creighton) and the Big Ten (Wisconsin) in the opening weeks of the season.
· McNorton remains atop the Big 12 assists leaderboard for the third-straight week with 628 assists and 12.08 assists per set – the only Big 12 setter with more than 600 assists and 12 per set, which also ranks sixth nationally. The Dallas native ranked in the top-10 in the NCAA all of 2012.
· Soucie took charge of the net last week for the Jayhawks, averaging 1.44 blocks per set during the Kansas Invitational (9/20-22). Oklahoma’s All-American Sallie McLaurin (1.38) is the only middle in the league averaging more blocks per frame than Soucie (1.33).
· Entering the week, Kansas checks in at third or better among Big 12 teams in: kills (14.21, 1st), assists (13.29, 1st), digs (15.98, 3rd), hitting percentage (.256, 3rd), opponent hitting percentage (.170, 3rd) and blocks (2.69, 3rd).
Kansas will open the Big 12 Conference season at home for the first time since the 2007 season (vs. then-No. 19 Kansas State, 9/12/07). In the last five seasons, KU has kicked off league play at Texas Tech, at Texas, at Kansas State, at Missouri and at Colorado. KU is 5-12 all-time in Big 12 openers.
Redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc was unstoppable against TCU last season. In their first meeting of the 2012 season, Jarmoc set her career-high with 23 kills in the four-set match, registering a .613 attack percentage. In their second meeting, Jarmoc again led the squad with 11 kills and a .429 hitting efficiency.
Kansas welcomed the U-23 Italian National Team to Lawrence on Sept. 25 for the first mid-season exhibition match of the head coach Ray Bechard era. The Jayhawks traveled to Italy in 2011 for a summer tour which pitted them against international competition – including the same team KU faced on Wednesday. Despite the unofficial five-set loss, Bechard used the opportunity to play all 15 players on the roster.
The Jayhawks rattled off a .364 attack percentage for the entirety of the Kansas Invitational (9/20-22). Against North Dakota State (9/20), KU posted a .458 efficiency (56K-12E-96TA) – just .10 shy of the Horejsi Family Athletics Center record – which was set in 2009 vs. Texas Tech.
During the six-match win streak, Kansas lost just five sets and put on an impressive performances on both sides of the ball. Offensively, redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc, junior outside hitter Sara McClinton and sophomore outside hitter Tiana Dockery are all averaging more than three kills per set. On defense, Jarmoc, junior outside hitter Chelsea Albers and freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie are each rejecting a full shot or more per set. KU is hitting .291, while holding its opponents to a combined .160 attack percentage over the stretch.
Senior setter Erin McNorton and freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie were named the Big 12’s Offensive Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively, on Sept. 23, bringing KU’s total to four honorees in the last three weeks. Senior libero Brianne Riley was honored by the Big 12 as the Defensive Player of the Week (9/16), while redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc claimed the accolade the week before (9/9).
An undervalued position by many, senior setter Erin McNorton shined at the Kansas Invitational, dishing out 130 assists (13.00/set average) to power KU to its third tournament title of the fall. McNorton was awarded Tournament MVP for her performance as well as Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, making her the first setter to earn that award since Texas’ Hannah Allison (11/21/11).
In its three pre-conference tournaments played in 2013, Kansas came away with a share or the outright title all three times: the Arizona Invitational, the InnTowner Invitational and, most recently, the Kansas Invitational. When hosting their own invitational, the Jayhawks are 93-23 and have gone undefeated in their last four-straight, dating back to Sept. 3-4, 2011.
Redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc and junior outside hitter Sara McClinton each took home All-Tournament Team honors at the Kansas Invitational (9/20-22). The recognition was the second of McClinton’s season and career. Since her sophomore season, Jarmoc has been honored on the All-Tournament team in 10 of KU’s last 11 tournaments.
Senior setter Erin McNorton is the sixth Jayhawk in program history to record 2,000 assists and stands at 2,200 entering the week. The most astounding part? The Dallas native had not started a match until last season – all but 129 of those assists have come within the last 46 matches.
Senior libero Brianne Riley is nearing seventh all-time on the Big 12 Conference’s career digs list (1,746), catching up to former Kansas State star Lauren Mathewson (1,755; 2007-10). More than just a conference highlight, Riley ranks 14th in career digs amongst every active player in the NCAA. The next closest Big 12 libero on the NCAA’s list is Iowa State’s Kristen Hahn (1512, 30th).
SCOUTING TCU (11-4 Overall, 0-1 Big 12)
Led by 12-year head coach Prentice Lewis, TCU was voted to finish in a tie for seventh in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches’ Poll after going 15-14 overall and 4-12 in conference play in 2012. With a year under their belt, the Horned Frogs have shown immense turnaround in 2013. Before beginning the league slate against No. 5 Texas on Wednesday, TCU was on an eight-match win streak.
Senior middle blocker Yvonne Igodan was named to the 2013 Preseason All-Big 12 Team and leads the offense with a .371 attack percentage. Off-setting her veteran leadership is freshman outside hitter Ashley Smith, who has a team-best 2.96 kills per set. The Horned Frogs run a 6-2 offense using the setter duo of redshirt freshman Trisha Langley and sophomore Alexia Heist, who helps TCU to 11.83 assists per set. As a unit, the Horned Frogs lead the Big 12 with a .260 attack percentage.
Defensively, junior outside hitter/middle blocker Mattie Burleson sets the tone at the net with a team-high 1.27 blocks per set. Behind her, six players average more than 1.50 digs per set. Freshman libero Shane Peters leads the back row with 3.00 digs per set.
On TCU being progressively competitive after a year in the Big 12:
“They have some really good results from pre-conference. They have a year of Big 12 under their belts and they obviously understand the routine. They’ve recruited well and I think they’ll be much, much more prepared to make a strong run through the conference.”
On bringing back senior middle blocker Yvonne Igodan and a solid offense:
“They’re hitting .260 as a team, which is the best in the conference. I think that’s a reflection of their system. They run a 6-2 system, which means they have three attackers on the front row the whole time. Their right side offense is good and Yvonne (Igodan) is one of the best athletes in the conference in the middle. So they can move around, so they have a lot of versatility and a lot of offensive balance.”
On the Jayhawks starting conference play where they want to be:
“I think the last couple weeks, we’ve made strides to get to where we want to be at this point. It always seems like conference gets here too fast, and then they’ve already played a match. We’ll have a couple days to prepare for TCU and hopefully Saturday will be a good day for us.”
On changing mindsets with the start of Big 12:
“Obviously your conference is how they view you, “They never ask you how you did in non-conference, they say ‘How’d you finish in the Big 12?” We want to be a top-tier Big 12 program. In the big scheme of things, every match is important in our goal of trying to get to the NCAA Tournament.”
On opening the Big 12 at home:
“If there’s one place that is similar to ours, it is TCU’s, but other than that we’re pretty unique in the Horjesi Family Athletics Center. Like I told the team, I think there is little bit of a volleyball following as well as some enthusiasts and loyalists. They are starting to build a volleyball culture in the gym and the team can feel that.”
Kansas hits the road for the first installment of the 2013 Sunflower Showdown against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan. First serve is set for 7 p.m.
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