TCU in Town for Sold-Out Jayhawks For a Cure Match
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A sudden surge from last to fourth in the Big 12 Conference standings has Kansas volleyball going in the right direction. Now the Jayhawks turn their focus to the TCU Horned Frogs in Saturday’s sold-out Jayhawks for a Cure match. First serve is set for noon inside the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
vs. TCU (Kansas leads, 4-1): TCU won the first meeting between the two squads – a five-set contest in 1999 – but the series has been on KU’s side since the Frogs made the move to the Big 12. Last year, TCU took a set from the Jayhawks in Fort Worth, but KU swept the Horned Frogs at home.
FOLLOW THE JAYHAWKS
Fans can listen to radio play-by-play on KUAthletics.com, found under the Fan Central tab. Adam Drovetta will have the call. The KU-TCU match will air on the Time Warner Cable SportsChannel with Leif Lisec and former Kansas volleyball standout Jill (Dorsey) Hall providing the analysis. The match will also be available on ESPN3.com. Fans can monitor the action by following @KUVolleyball on Twitter.
- 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. He enters the match with a career mark of 1,003-282.
- Freshman setter Ainise Havili earned her first career Big 12 Rookie of the Week award on Oct. 13. She leads the Big 12 in assists (807) and in assists per set (11.21), both of which rank in the top-20 nationally.
- Kansas jumped from No. 26 in the RPI to No. 20 in the latest NCAA RPI projections (10/13). In the last three seasons, KU has been outside of the top-20 for only one week. Thus far in 2014, KU is 0-3 vs. top-25 RPI teams, 1-5 vs. top-50 and 8-5 vs. top-100.
- The RPI reflects that Kansas plays the last two national champions a combined three times this season in Penn State (2013) and Texas (2012).
- Kansas stumbled in the first set at West Virginia, but came back to win the next three sets for a coveted road win. WVU is the only team in the Big 12 to which Kansas has not lost.
- For the first time in conference play, senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers did not record double-digits against Baylor (10/10), but she came right back for a double-double at WVU (10/15), her fifth of the year. Albers ranks fifth in conference-only matches in kills per set (3.73),
- The Jayhawk middle blockers are finding their way to the top of the conference in attack percentage as three of the four are among the top-10 in the Big 12. Freshman Kayla Cheadle is second (.369), sophomore Tayler Soucie is seventh (.335) and freshman Kelsie Payne is ninth (.332).
Kansas hit a wall to start the match at West Virginia (10/15). The Mountaineers recorded eight total blocks in the first set, a surreal amount considering KU has held opponents to 8.0 or fewer blocks 10 times this season. The Jayhawks had seen enough and went on to allow just four more blocks in the next three frames. Meanwhile, middle blockers Tayler Soucie and Kelsie Payne retaliated with six and five blocks, respectively, and senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers had four. By night’s end, KU turned an 8.0-2.0 blocking deficit to a 12.0-12.0 tie with the Mountaineers.
Though most opposing conference teams were none too sad about the departure of KU’s best senior class in program history following the 2013 season, the Horned Frogs might’ve liked to see them again compared to this year’s Jayhawks. The last time TCU came to Lawrence, Tiana Dockery (14), Chelsea Albers (11), Sara McClinton (9) and Tayler Soucie (1) accounted for 35 kills and gave up only five errors. They led KU to a 3-0 sweep, hit .369 for the match and a whopping .667 in set two.
HOLD YOUR GROUND
While the Kansas offense will likely register its 1,000th kill of the season against TCU, currently at 992, the defense has been the unsung hero. For the first 10 matches of the season, KU held every opponent to less than a .200 hitting percentage until breaking that streak against defending national champion Penn State (9/13). Since then, the Jayhawk defense has done it five more times.
THE RACE IS ON
After being voted to finish second in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll, the highest selection in KU’s history, the Jayhawks were hit with a brutal 0-3 start to conference play. Sitting in last place and the only team in the league without a win, KU won back-to-back road matches at Baylor (10/10) and West Virginia (10/15) to bolt its way up the standings. Entering the TCU match, the Jayhawks are tied with Iowa State for fourth place.
Freshman setter Ainise Havili is mowing through her first season as the Jayhawks’ floor general. During the West Virginia (10/15) match, Havili opened the door of a fairly prominent record. With 807 assists, Havili passed former Jayhawk setter Trisha Lindgren (789; 1994) for the fifth-most assists in a freshman season in KU history. She is currently averaging 42.5 assists per match, putting her on pace to take over the most assists by a KU freshman (Katie Martincich, 2006, 1,193).
With 10 kills at West Virginia (10/15), senior outside hitter Sara McClinton registered double-digits for the 57th time in her four years. Currently, she sits at 1,128 career kills, in need of only three to break into KU’s top-10 career kills list (1,131, Jana Correa). McClinton 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.
Senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers chalked up her fifth double-double of the year (12th career) with a team-high 15 kills and 11 digs at West Virginia (10/15). KU’s other double-double specialist, freshman setter Ainise Havili, did not post one at WVU but does have nine on the season – the third-most in the Big 12.
SCOUTING TCU (12-8, 2-4 Big 12 Conference)
TCU is led by head coach Prentice Lewis, now in her 13th season with the Horned Frogs. Lewis took over a struggling squad in 2002, and turned the program around for the better. Last season, she led the Horned Frogs to a winning record (16-15), the ninth time accomplishing this deed in her 12 years at the helm. TCU opened its season against then-No. 1 Penn State, then caught fire in the non-conference by picking up wins against Miami and Notre Dame before knocking off Iowa State in the second conference match of the year.
TCU ranks second in the Big 12 in hitting percentage (.263), coming in behind Texas. At the serving line, however, there’s nobody better as the Horned Frogs lead the league with 1.51 aces per set.
Leading the charge for the Horned Frogs offensively is sophomore outside hitter Ashley Smith. Smith paces the team with 2.88 kills per set and averages 3.25 points per set, ranking ninth in the conference. In the last week of the 2013 regular season, she earned co-Big 12 Newcomer of the Week and TCU Muscle Milk Athlete of the Week accolades.
Senior opposite Stephanie Holland follows suit offensively for TCU. In the current campaign, Holland has notched 195 kills, ranking second on the team. Holland has also appeared in more sets than any other player on the team (71).
HEAD COACH RAY BECHARD
“I know they have a lot of offensive fire power. They have a pair of lefties that are really good in (Stephanie) Holland and (Blaire) Pickens. It looks like Holland still led them in kills at Kansas State. They’re getting their middles a little more involved and have changed up their system, but this is a team that beat Iowa State and had a good pre-conference. Now, they are just like everybody else – we’re all trying to claw and scratch out wins in the conference. There are a ton of teams right there in the middle of the pack. This is a match where we could create a little bit of separation from the teams we’re trying to move ahead of.”
On the importance of winning at home:
“If we think we can come home and relax because we’ve done our work on the road, that would be the last thing we could afford to do. Everybody is hungry to win. They beat Baylor and really had a chance to win at West Virginia, TCU is really playing well. We buckled down and got a couple of big wins on the road, but now we have to come home with that same intensity here in Horejsi.”
On TCU being officially acclimated to being in the Big 12 Conference:
“With wins against Iowa State and Baylor and a tough five-set loss to West Virginia, they’re equipped. They feel like, as I’m sure a number of teams do, they can get a top-half finish in the Big 12 this year.”
On responding to a first-set loss at West Virginia with a 25-10 second-set win:
“It took a little pressure off since, obviously, we didn’t want to go down 2-0. We got on a pretty good run with Ainise (Havili) serving. She served nine or 10 in a row, so there wasn’t much doubt as to how that set was going to end. Going into the break 1-1 was very necessary, then we got into a pretty good start to set three and into set four. We did some things better. We got more physical as the match went along.”
On the ‘Jayhawks for a Cure’ cause:
“There will be a lot of people in attendance that have been affected by it, including our own family, and many people close to Kansas volleyball. It would only be appropriate to give a great fight and a great effort to represent what the match represents on Saturday.”
Kansas returns to the road for a meeting in Ames, Iowa. The Jayhawks and Cyclones will square off in Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday, Oct. 22. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.