Packed House Set to Watch Kansas, No. 3 Texas Battle for Top Spot

Kansas vs. No. 3 Texas
Horejsi Family Athletics Center // Lawrence
Oct. 12, 2013
Date Saturday, 6:30 p.m.
TV Metro Sports
Video ESPN3
Notes Kansas |  Big 12

LAWRENCE, Kan. –  Complete with the hype that comes with winning streaks and the last remaining undefeated teams in Big 12 Conference play,  Kansas will welcome defending national champion Texas to the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
– Active Ankle Match of the Week: Kansas’ official supplier of preventative ankle-injury equipment will sponsor the match. Tabling will be set up inside the concourse to showcase the Active Ankle product line.
– Salute to Service: Kansas volleyball honors all former and active military members.
vs. Texas (UT leads, 33-4): Texas holds a 33-4 all-time record against Kansas in a series that dates back to 1981. At home, the Jayhawks are 3-14 against the perennial power, while the Longhorns hold the advantage in Austin, 16-1, and are 3-0 against Kansas on a neutral court. UT has been in the nation’s top-10 in the previous 14-consecutive meetings. The last time these two squared off was also in front of a sold-out Horejsi (11/10/12), where Kansas and Texas won every other set until the Longhorns edged the Jayhawks by three points in the fifth frame, 15-12. Texas has won the last 18-consecutive meetings with KU’s last win coming on Nov. 8, 2003.
For those that can’t make it to the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, Kansas vs. Texas will air on Time Warner Cable Metro Sports and Fans can access the TV stream by going to or visiting Leif Lisec and former Kansas volleyball player Jill Dorsey-Hall will provide the analysis. For more information on accessing Kansas video content, visit Fans can also monitor the action on Live Stats or by following @KUVolleyball on Twitter. The match will not be available on Jayhawk Digital Passport.
· The rights to first place in the Big 12 standings are on the line as Kansas and Texas come in tied for the top spot at 4-0 in conference play.
· KU’s win against Oklahoma now puts the Jayhawks in a spot only three teams in program history have previously treaded. Only the 1991, 1992 and 2001 Kansas teams have won 10-consecutive matches. The record is 15-straight (1991).
· The NCAA released the first RPI projections of the season and the Jayhawks debuted at No. 14. Kansas has not been outside the RPI’s top-15 since 2011.
· Junior outside hitter Sara McClinton (Offensive) and freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie (Defensive) became KU’s seventh and eighth Big 12 Players of the Week of the season – a new program record. At least one Jayhawk has won a conference award in the last five-straight weeks.
· KU is one of two teams in the Big 12 with three players in the top-10 in attack percentage: Tayler Soucie (.319, 7th), Chelsea Albers (.316, 8th) and Caroline Jarmoc (.314, 10th). The other? Texas.
· The Jayhawks also boast two players in the top-three in blocks per set: Tayler Soucie (1.40, 1st) and Caroline Jarmoc (1.32, 3rd). The blocking duo ranks 14th and 31st in the NCAA, respectively.
· KU is receiving votes (42) for the second-straight week in the latest AVCA Top-25 Coaches Poll (10/7). Six teams separate KU from the top-25, including Oklahoma (79 votes), who KU swept in its last time out.
· Senior setter Erin McNorton leads the Big 12 in assists for the fifth-straight week. She also reached a career-best in national ranking as her 12.43 assists per set ranks third nationally.
· On paper, Kansas certainly looks like the team to beat, leading the Big 12 in blocks (2.85, 8th NCAA), kills (14.57, 17th NCAA), assists (13.63, 17th NCAA) and attack percentage (.270, 28th NCAA).
For the second-straight season, a sold-out Kansas crowd is welcoming top-10 Texas to Lawrence. Once again, first-place footing in the Big 12 is on the line. 
Not only are Kansas and Texas undefeated in conference play, the teams are nearly flawless within each match – both with 12-1 set records. The Baylor Bears took Texas to four sets on Oct. 2 and then forced a fourth set against Kansas on Oct. 5.
While Kansas already leads the Big 12 in blocks (2.85), kills (14.57), assists (13.63) and attack percentage (.270) on the overall statistic rankings, the Jayhawks’ numbers in conference-only play are unreal. In Big 12-only matches, Kansas leads in: attack percentage (.326), opponent attack percentage (.149), assists (15.00), kills (16.00) and blocks (3.50). 
Individually, the Jayhawks are equally impressive. Junior outside hitter Sara McClinton is unstoppable as of late – leading KU in conference play with 4.69 kills per set, a .446 attack percentage and 4.96 points per set. Senior setter Erin McNorton averages nearly two full assists per set more than second place with her 13.85 mark. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks go one-two on the blocking leaderboard with redshirt senior Caroline Jarmoc (1.69) and freshman Tayler Soucie (1.62)
LAST TIME OUT: No. 3 Texas 3, No. 23 Kansas 2
In front of a sold-out home crowd, Kansas won the first set, lost the second, won the third and lost the fourth – setting up the decisive fifth set.  Though the Longhorns claimed the early lead and held fast to it, the Jayhawks narrowed the gap to a single point, switching sides at 8-7. The Longhorns finally pulled away for a 15-12 win to claim the match, 3-2. Texas won four five-set matches in 2012 – no one played the Longhorns to a closer fifth set than Kansas. Caroline Jarmoc led the offense with 18 kills, while former middle Tayler Tolefree had a team-high seven blocks. Brianne Riley and Chelsea Albers  combined for 40 of KU’s 80 digs. The five-set loss marked KU’s first loss at home in 2012, ending a program-best 13-match home win streak.
Rarely does a 3-0 victory bring up much comeback talk, but Kansas’ sweep of Oklahoma (10/9) had the Jayhawks on the ropes several times. In the first set, KU faced 11-17 and 20-23 deficits before righting the ship with a 25-23 victory. Although the Jayhawks cruised through set two, Oklahoma fired out to an 8-2 lead to start the third set. Kansas answered loudly, putting together an 11-2 run that included four kills from redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc to take a 13-10 lead. From there, the two teams would knot the score eight more times (15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23) before Kansas came away with the 25-23 win to complete the sweep.
Junior outside hitter Sara McClinton‘s 16 kills against Oklahoma (10/9) gives her 815 for her career. Only one Jayhawk – KU all-time kills leader Josi Lima (1,483, 2002-05) – reached the 800 mark faster. Because of her four kills in the opening frame, McClinton officially became the second-fastest Jayhawk to achieve the feat. Former Kansas volleyball star Karina Garlington also reached her 800th career kill in her 79th match played. Garlington, however, didn’t tip the 800-mark until the fourth set of career match No. 79.
Awards and individual records mean little to the Jayhawks, so junior outside hitter Sara McClinton‘s Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week award and 800 career kills take a backseat to the tear she’s been on as of late. In the last week, McClinton led the Jayhawks in kills against Baylor and Oklahoma. The Omaha native took a combined 66 swings, resulting in 39 kills and only two errors. That equals out to 5.57 kills per set and a .571 attack percentage.
The NCAA placed Kansas at No. 14 in its first RPI release of the season. Based on the initial projections, Kansas is 6-2 against top-50 and 11-3 against top-100 RPI teams. Aside from Texas Tech (No. 224), the Jayhawks face only two teams this year in the bottom half of the RPI, and will play teams in the RPI’s top-30 11 times.
Prior to 2013, only three Big 12 Conference teams had earned the league’s Offensive Player of the Week nod in three-consecutive weeks. Kansas joined the list on Oct. 7 as junior outside hitter Sara McClinton received the honor along with teammate freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie, who was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week. Kansas’ three-straight weeks of offensive awards is only the eighth occurrence in Big 12 history. Texas has gone three-straight in the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week category five times, while Kansas State and Oklahoma have each achieved the feat once.
Sept. 9 – Caroline Jarmoc (Defensive)
Sept. 16 – Brianne Riley (Defensive)
Sept. 23 – Erin McNorton (Offensive); Tayler Soucie (Rookie)
Sept. 30 – Tiana Dockery (Offensive); Caroline Jarmoc (Defensive)
Oct. 7 – Sara McClinton (Offensive); Tayler Soucie (Defensive)
Saturday’s match will pit the Big 12’s best offense and defense against each other. In conference-only matches, Kansas ranks first with a .326 attack percentage compared to Texas’ second-ranked .308. On the defensive side, Kansas is giving up a league-best .149 opponent hitting percentage compared to Texas’ second-ranked .150. Half of the Big 12’s top-10 point scorers will play on Saturday.
SCOUTING No. 3 TEXAS (11-2 Overall, 4-0 Big 12)
Reigning AVCA National Coach of the Year, Jerritt Elliott, started his 13th season following the Longhorns run to the 2012 NCAA Championship. With the third national title in program history in tow, Elliott and the Longhorns kicked off their 2013 campaign at No. 11 Hawaii, which resulted in a season-opening loss. Things picked up significantly after that, including back-to-back wins against No. 1 Penn State and No. 2 Stanford. The Longhorns have suffered just one loss since opening day, against Arizona State, before firing off seven-straight wins prior to their arrival in Lawrence.
No offense comes in with more accolades than the reigning champs, who features the last four-consecutive Big 12 Players of the Year, including current players Haley Eckerman (2012) and Bailey Webster (2011). Eckerman, who also went on to be the 2012 AVCA National Co-Player of the Year, leads the Longhorns with 3.50 kills per set. Webster joins Eckerman on the outside hitter crew and is racking up a 3.26 kill average. Senior setter Hannah Allison and freshman Chloe Collins are splitting time dishing the ball around, both averaging 6.50 assists per set.
Their offensive strength from the pins is heavily backed by the middle blockers. All-American junior Khat Bell leads the team with 1.12 blocks per set – making her one of three different Longhorn blockers posting more than a full block each frame. A new face has also emerged in rookie middle Chiaka Ogbogu. Registering 1.04 blocks per set, Ogbogu leads the team with a .436 attack percentage. A 2012 UnderArmour High School All-American and the Gatorade Texas Volleyball Player of the Year, Ogbogu played at the HS All-America match played in December at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville alongside teammate Chloe Collins – and current Jayhawk freshman Cassie Wait.
Another familiar face lines the back row in senior libero Sarah Palmer. Her 3.98 digs per set lead the team, although digs are not the Longhorns’ strong suit as they rank sixth in the league. As a team, Texas’ .266 attack percentage ranks second only to Kansas (.270).
On Texas:
“Nobody has attempted to play the schedule that they have. They have wins over Penn State, Stanford, Nebraska, Illinois and then San Diego is also a top-10 team. They stubbed their toe at Hawaii, which nobody wins out there. They’re not going to be overwhelmed by our environment or our group and they’re experienced in playing high-level matches put pressure on them. They’re the defending national champions. It’s just a great opportunity for our team to experience a really high-level team coming into Horejsi, with some build up. They’ll come at you from different angles, hit at different angles than what you’ll see (from other teams). When it comes down to it, one point is one point regardless of how dynamic or athletic the play was. If you make a good, smart volleyball play and they make an unbelievably athletic play, the score is still 1-1. I think you can’t let momentum build from one play – even though at home, that’s what we try to do is build momentum. I’ve got a lot of respect for Jerritt (Elliott) and his staff, the fact that you come off a national championship and he sticks his nose in there and puts together the toughest schedule in the country. He’s representing our league in a great way.”
On the match against Texas last year:
“Our team will be excited, but all of that energy and enthusiasm in Horejsi isn’t going to carry us through a couple hours against a team like this. We have to be really focused on assignments and everybody needs to be playing at a good level. We’ll be excited, but it’ll come down to first contact, which will be critical, and making key plays. We hope there’s some close games at the end where we’ll have to play well and get some things to go our way.”
On the All-American filled Texas roster:
“They’re playing different personnel. They’ve got depth in the middle and they’ve got depth on the pin. I don’t know how much depth they had in some of those spots last year, but certainly if he (Elliott) needs to get somebody’s attention he can do that by moving some people around. It’s a deep roster, but some of those people came into his program as better athletes than volleyball players. Now, they have made that switch and have become really high IQ volleyball players and that’s really a credit to what they’re doing there with the talent they have. Not only are they talented, they play hard and they are very organized. That makes it an extremely difficult assignment, but one we are excited to be taking on.”
On the Kansas depth:
“I think we’ve got a level of distribution from a set standpoint that’s making us a little harder to defend. Our offensive balance is great to see, our pin players are hitting for good numbers. If they can sustain that, I think we could continue to have some success in the league. We have to continue to give our setter a lot of options for that to continue to happen. We’ve got some players doing good things and that’s because we’re getting a little more difficult for people to concentrate on. We have four or five people, offensively, that can help us when need be.”
On the confidence of his team:
“It’s pretty good. It’s interesting, volleyball is so fickle and momentum is such an interesting thing. Down 17-11 (vs. Oklahoma), it didn’t look like we had much going on and then they kept grinding, kept working and I think more than anything they had faith in each other and it got better as we went. We were fortunate to win that first set and that obviously carried over into the second set. I think we’re confident, but we need to understand we were fortunate to win the first set and if you dig a hole like that on other occasions it might not work out that way and you might be in for a whole different night. They’re confident that they can come back against a good team. They’re confident that they can play from ahead, but we’ll have to do all of those things on Saturday to get the type of result we want.”
Kansas will hit the road for a pair of long road trips, starting on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at Texas Tech. First serve is set for 6 p.m. The Jayhawks then travel to West Virginia for a 5:30 p.m. CT meeting against the Mountaineers on Saturday, Oct. 19.  The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.