| No. 23 Kansas at West Virginia
WVU Coliseum // Morgantown, W.Va.
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A sweep on the road in Lubbock started the first half of this week’s road trip. Now the 23rd-ranked Kansas volleyball team will test its strength again on the road as the Jayhawks travel to West Virginia on Saturday for a 5:30 p.m. CT meeting with the Mountaineers.
vs. West Virginia (KU leads, 4-0): One of the newest series among Kansas opponents, the Jayhawks and Mountaineers will meet for just the fifth time on Saturday. WVU faced KU once in 1999 and again in 2000 before the Mountaineers joined the conference for the 2012 season. Kansas claimed the sweep in the duo’s last meeting, but WVU has taken one set in each match prior.
FOLLOW THE JAYHAWKS
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.
Saturday’s match will stream live on WVUsports.com, which fans can access for free by visiting WVUsports.com, choosing the Multimedia tab and clicking Streaming Video. Fans can also monitor the action on GameTracker or by following @KUVolleyball on Twitter.
· Kansas recorded its eighth sweep of the season – fourth in conference play – at Texas Tech (10/16). KU has not been swept since Oct. 12, 2012 (at No. 9 Texas).
· The Jayhawks wrapped up the first of their back-to-back long trips, on Wednesday in Lubbock. When KU gets back from Morgantown, W. Va., the team will have traveled more than 3,125 miles in four days.
· The Jayhawks are ranked No. 23 on the latest AVCA Top-25 Coaches Poll (10/14), their first ranking since earning a No. 20 spot on the AVCA Preseason Poll. KU was receiving votes the previous two weeks and was ranked the last nine-consecutive weeks of the 2012 season.
· Kansas snapped a 10-match winning streak against the defending national champion Texas Longhorns last Saturday. Prior to 2013, only the 1991, 1992 and 2001 teams had won 10-consecutive matches.
· KU moved up to No. 11 on the latest NCAA RPI projections (10/14). Kansas has not been outside the RPI’s top-15 since 2011.
· KU is the only team in the Big 12 with three players ranking in the top-10 in both blocks and points per set. Redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc and junior outside hitter Chelsea Albers are on both top-10 lists.
· Jarmoc appears on four of the Big 12’s top-10 lists: hitting percentage (.314, 9th), kills per set (3.26, 8th), points per set (4.20, 4th) and blocks per set (1.31, 3rd), while her mentee, freshman middle Tayler Soucie, leads the Big 12 with 1.37 blocks per set. The blocking duo ranks 23rd and 36th in the NCAA, respectively.
· Senior setter Erin McNorton leads the Big 12 for the seventh-straight week with 12.31 assists per set. Only two setters in the country average more assists than McNorton: Caitlin Dotson, Lipscomb (12.67) and Molly Kreklow, Missouri (12.46).
· Kansas has established itself prominently in the conference, leading the Big 12 in blocks (2.82, 19th NCAA), kills (14.42, 16th NCAA), assists (13.51, 13th NCAA) and is second in attack percentage (.261, 30th NCAA).
Redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc needs just 10 blocks to become the all-time career-blocking leader at Kansas. A record that has stood for nearly 15 years (current record holder: Amanda Reves, 514, 1996-99), Jarmoc became the second player in KU history to eclipse 500 career blocks. The countdown will likely not be a long one as Jarmoc has 10 blocks in her last three matches – but has also posted 10 or more blocks in a single match twice.
SWEEPING THE HARD WAY
At Texas Tech (10/16), KU found itself trailing 8-2 lead early in the second set, fell further behind 19-12 and nearly lost – down 23-18 lead in the final stretch. Kansas wouldn’t have it, scoring seven-straight points to claim set two and keep the sweep intact – including three-straight kills from redshirt senior Caroline Jarmoc to end set two.
Kansas faced a similar situation against Oklahoma (10/9). 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 – once again – featured a string of four kills from 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.
LAST TIME OUT: No. 20 Kansas 3, West Virginia 0
Tayler Tolefree hit 1.000 for the first time in Jayhawk volleyball history to lead No. 20 Kansas in a three-set victory over West Virginia, 25-16, 25-12, 25-18, in Lawrence (10/29/12). Kansas tied the record for most home wins in a season (1978, 1991) as the Jayhawks improved to 13-0 at home, while racking up a season-best .418 attack percentage to down West Virginia. KU’s hitting efficiency marked the best by a Jayhawk squad since hitting .423 against Texas Tech (10/30/10).
Tolefree went 10-for-10, becoming just the third player in Big 12 history to record a 1.000 attack percentage and the first Kansas player to do so, breaking the previous record set by Ashley Michaels (.917 at Creighton, 8/31/02). Caroline Jarmoc also recorded 10 kills without an error to hit .625 and led the Kansas defense with four total blocks.
TURNING IT AROUND
In its inaugural Big 12 season, West Virginia suffered an 0-16 conference record and went 8-22 overall. That’s hardly the case in 2013, as the Mountaineers started the year 10-0, currently sit at 16-4 overall and have wins over Kansas State and Texas Tech.
The Kansas volleyball team reclaimed a spot on the AVCA poll on Oct. 14, coming in at No. 23. Texas, the only other Big 12 school on the list, remained at No. 3 on this week’s poll. The Jayhawks have wins against No. 15 Wisconsin and Oklahoma, who continues to receive votes. This marks KU’s first ranking since earning a No. 20 spot on the AVCA Preseason Poll (8/12), following nine-consecutive weeks in the top-25 to finish the 2012 season. The highest ranking in program history occurred almost exactly a year ago when the Jayhawks broke through at No. 17 (10/22/12).
The NCAA moved Kansas up to No. 11 in its latest RPI release (10/14). Based on the most recent rankings, Kansas is 2-2 against top-15 teams and 5-3 against top-30 RPI teams. With more than a month still remaining in the regular season, KU has wins against Wisconsin (No. 14), Oklahoma (No. 15), Arkansas (No. 26), Georgia (No. 27) and Arizona (No. 30). All but five of the opponents KU faces this season are ranked in the top 100.
WOWING THE LEAGUE
While Kansas already leads the Big 12 in blocks (2.82), kills (14.42) and assists (13.51) on the overall statistic rankings, the Jayhawks’ numbers in conference-only play are unreal. In Big 12-only matches, Kansas leads in: assists (14.10), kills (14.95) and blocks (3.15).
Individually, the Jayhawks are equally impressive. Junior outside hitter Sara McClinton leads the Big 12 in conference matches with 4.50 kills and 4.72 points per set. Senior setter Erin McNorton averages more than a full assist per set more than second place with her 12.90 mark. Meanwhile, redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc leads the league in conference-only matches with 1.50 blocks per set.
Junior outside hitter Sara McClinton is currently sitting at 844 career kills. 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 against Oklahoma (10/9), 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.
SPEAKING OF SARA
Since conference play started, junior outside hitter Sara McClinton has led the Jayhawks in kills all but once, including the last five matches in a row. Her 90 kills in Big 12 matches lead the league, while her 243 overall kills is second to OU’s Sallie McLaurin (256).
SCOUTING WEST VIRGINIA (16-4 Overall, 2-3 Big 12)
Led by fourth-year head coach Jill Kramer, league newcomer West Virginia was voted to finish ninth in the 2013 Big 12 Preseason Poll. Kramer, however, has her team going in a much different direction. The Mountaineers started the season with 10-straight wins, knocking off teams such as Eastern Illinois, Loyola (IL) and Toledo. Ready to prove themselves in Big 12 play, as well, the Mountaineers opened league action with a four-set win against Kansas State and followed that with a win at TCU. The team suffered a three-match skid against TCU, Baylor and Iowa State, but swept Robert Morris on Wednesday.
While West Virginia continues to search for its offensive rhythm, hitting .207 as a team, the Mountaineers are holding their opponents to .149 – the best in the Big 12. WVU also fields a young set of starters, with only one senior (Elzbieta Klein) registering more than two sets played this season. Freshman outside hitter Jordan Anderson leads the Big 12 with 3.78 kills per set and ranks second on the team with a 2.80 dig average. Next in line are sophomores Hannah Sackett and Nikki Attea, who churn out 2.95 and 2.63 kills per set, respectively. Spreading the offense around is starting setter, and sophomore, Brittany Sample, who averages 10.34 assists per set.
On the defensive side, West Virginia ranks fifth in the league with 2.53 blocks per set and has two players on the top-10 list in junior middle blocker Evyn McCoy (1.19, 6th) and sophomore middle Caleah Wells (1.07, 9th). Sophomore libero Anna Panagiotakopoulos ranks right behind KU’s Brianne Riley as fourth in the Big 12 with 4.20 digs per set. As a team, WVU checks in at fifth in digs (14.87), behind KU’s 15.89 in fourth.
HEAD COACH RAY BECHARD
On responding to the Texas loss with a sweep at Texas Tech:
“We had a good start to the first set and then we had to do a little Houdini act in the second set. It was good to see on the road that we could make some good volleyball plays when needed and then go on to control that third set. There was nothing overly flashy about it, we just had a balanced offense and did what we needed to do to get out of there with a solid 3-0 win.”
On playing the comeback game:
“I think there’s a stat out there somewhere that says 80 percent of the time, the team that gets to 10 points first wins. We’ve had a little trend here, as of late, to not be the first team to 10. We’ve managed to come from behind, but as I told the team, we’re trying to train and compete to beat the most elite teams in the country and not be complacent with ‘Ok, we came from behind.’ A little bit better starts, more consistently, will be an objective for us.”
On the turnaround West Virginia has made in year two in the Big 12:
“I think it’s the best story in our league right now with their turnaround and the change in the mindset and the culture there. They are a good Big 12 volleyball team and I know they didn’t feel like they were last year, even though they competed hard. The culture that they were developing last year of ‘we’re going to play hard regardless of the score,’ has obviously served them well this year. With a couple of wins already in the league and a great pre-conference record and they’re 9-1 at home, our team will have to be ready to play at a high level.”
On the challenges presented in playing in big arenas:
“It’s good that we just came from that same situation at Texas Tech. Our girls need to understand that the floor is the same dimensions, the net is the same height and all those kinds of things. You’re going to play in different aesthetics all the time.”
On the consistency Sara McClinton has shown in Big 12 play:
“She’s playing at a great level. She’s low-error and providing a lot of offense for us. She’s really improving in some of the other areas of her game, too, which is great to see.”
On Caroline Jarmoc approaching the Kansas blocking record:
“That’s pretty cool. It’s a testament to how hard she’s worked and the time that she’s put in. She had pretty good blocking instincts when she got here, but she’s worked on it a lot. She’ll score points for us, but even in times when her offense isn’t in-sync, she’ll find a different way to score. Last night, she had a service ace, five blocks and nine kills – so she scores points for us. It’s good to see someone that’s worked as hard as she has get her name up there in the record book.”
No. 23 Kansas comes home to host the Iowa State Cyclones on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. inside the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
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