Trail of Texas Teams Continue, Kansas Off to Tech
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A convincing sweep at home against Baylor has Kansas on the upswing and ready for its fourth Texas-based team in a row as the Jayhawks will travel to Lubbock for a Saturday meeting with the Texas Tech Red Raiders. First serve is set for 3 p.m. inside the United Supermarkets Arena.
vs. Texas Tech (KU leads, 22-16): Kansas holds a 22-16 all-time margin in a series that dates back to 1982, but the Jayhawks have had solid control in recent years. KU has won eight-straight meetings with the Red Raiders, including five-consecutive sweeps. In Lawrence, KU has the 13-6 edge, while the series is tied in Lubbock with nine wins apiece.
FOLLOW THE JAYHAWKS
The KU-TTU match will stream online on TexasTech.TV for a subscription fee. Fans can also listen to radio play-by-play on KUAthletics.com, found under the Fan Central tab, free of charge. Adam Drovetta will have the call. Fans can monitor the action by following @KUVolleyball on Twitter.
KANSAS AT A GLANCE
- 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 1,006-284.
- After a 3-0 win against Baylor (11/5), Kansas heads to Texas Tech with the chance to move above .500 in Big 12 play for the first time this season.
- Kansas sits at No. 27 in the latest NCAA RPI projections (11/3). In the last three seasons, KU has never been outside the top-30. Thus far in 2014, KU is 0-4 vs. top-25 RPI teams, 1-6 vs. top-50 and 10-7 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).
- The Jayhawk offense leads the Big 12 with 13.79 kills per set. Prior to Wednesday night, the Baylor Bears led the league in that stat until Kansas held them to just 24 kills in the midweek match.
- Freshman setter Ainise Havili leads the Big 12 in conference-only action with 11.27 assists per set. Overall the rookie floor general is second in assist average (11.21), while her 1,020 overall assists on the season is more than other setter in the conference.
- Sophomore libero Cassie Wait is moving up KU’s list of most digs in a single season. She sits one dig behind former KU libero Jill (Dorsey) Hall for eighth all-time with 434.
- Senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers ranks in the top-10 in the conference in kills (3.05) and points (3.56) per set. During the Baylor (11/5) match, Albers became the 12th Jayhawk all-time to post 800 career kills and 800 career digs.
- Three of KU’s middle blockers rank in the top-four in attack percentage in the Big 12. Freshman Kayla Cheadle is second (.366), freshman Kelsie Payne is third (.356) and sophomore Tayler Soucie is fourth (.344).
HUNT FOR 20
Sitting at 17 victories with six matches to play, Kansas is in position to reach, or surpass, the 20-win mark for the third-straight season. Such a streak would be a first for Jayhawk volleyball since the 1980-1981-1982 seasons.
SET THE TABLE
Entering the weekend, Kansas’ 62 set victories are tied for the most among all Big 12 teams (Kansas State). KSU is the only team in the conference that has won 20 matches (20-4), while first-place Texas at 17-1 overall has won just 51 sets this year.
SERVICE WITH A SMILE
Kansas has endured its share of serving issues, but the Jayhawks have picked up as of late. Against Baylor (11/5) and at TCU (11/1), KU landed six aces in each match and kept its error count to single digits. Kansas ranked last in services aces in 2013, but has moved to seventh in the league overall and fifth in conference-only action this fall. Freshmen Madison Rigdon (0.33) and Ainise Havili (0.29) each rank in the top-10 in the Big 12 in service aces per set, while Havili leads the team with 26 aces for the season. In addition, sophomore libero Cassie Wait is on point from the line. She only has six aces, but she has made 93 percent of her serves in 2014.
1,000 AND COUNTING
Freshman setter Ainise Havili has serious potential to overthrow records in her first season as the Jayhawks’ floor general as she passed the 1,000-assist mark against Baylor (11/5).
That makes Havili just the fourth Jayhawk in program history to dish out 1,000 assists as a freshman. Currently averaging 42.5 assists per match, Havili is still on pace to take over the most assists by a KU rookie (Katie Martincich, 2006, 1,193). Her 1,020 assists lead all Big 12 setters, while the 11.21 assist average ranks second.
The last time KU played Texas Tech (10/25), the Kansas blocking game was overwhelming. Led by a season-high seven blocks from senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers, the Jayhawks racked up 13.5 total blocks and allowed only 2.5 rejections against them. That’s the first time KU has tallied 10+ blocks more than the team across the net in 2014. The last occurrence came against Baylor (10/5/13) when the Jayhawks out-blocked the Bears in Waco, 16.0-3.0.
With nine kills against Baylor (11/1), senior outside hitter Sara McClinton now has 1,174 for her career, which jumped her two spots on KU’s all-time career kills list. She passed Emily Brown (1,168; 2004-07) and Mary Beth Albrech (1,171; 1996-99) for seventh on the milestone list. McClinton is one of two players in the Big 12 with 1,000 career kills (Haley Eckerman, Texas), and is the 14th Jayhawk all-time to reach the 1,000-kill mark at Kansas.
The Jayhawks chalked up their ninth sweep of the year against Baylor (11/5), a mark that Big 12 foes’ Texas and Kansas State can beat with 12 and 10 sweeps, respectively, in 2014. A number that neither of them can beat, however, is KU has been swept only once this season. Kansas State has been swept three times this year and Texas has been beaten 3-0 once. In fact, KU has been swept just twice in its last 68 matches (No. 5 Washington, 12/13/13; No. 3 Penn State, 9/13/14).
Kansas checks in at No. 27 this week. Although the Jayhawks have more losses now than they did at this point in the last two seasons, their strength of schedule has a lot to do with that. In the latest RPI projections, 16 of KU’s 22 opponents are in the top-100. All but three of those 22 opponents have winning records. In the final month of the regular season, seven of KU’s next eight matches will come against teams in the top-80, including at Kansas State (No. 16), at Texas (No. 4) and Oklahoma (21).
Seven different players have led the Jayhawks in kills this fall, which showcases the balanced offense that head coach Ray Bechard has strived to achieve with his young team this season. To prove the point even further, those same seven all have 100 or more kills to their credit this season. KU hasn’t seen seven players total 100+ kills in a season since 2007 when eight players hit the mark.
KILLS ON KILLS ON KILLS
Kansas saw five different Jayhawks chalk up double-digit kills on the road at TCU (11/1). Seniors Chelsea Albers and Sara McClinton led the way with 14 apiece, while middle blockers Tayler Soucie and Janae Hall tagged 13 each. Junior outside hitter Tiana Dockery swung for 10 kills, the first time the Jayhawks posted a balanced performance like that since October 23, 2013 against Iowa State.
WORTH THE WAIT
Sophomore libero Cassie Wait has tallied 11 matches with 20+ digs this season is sitting at 434 digs in 2014. Heading to Lubbock, Wait needs just two to pass Jill Dorsey (435; 2003) for eighth and 16 to pass Melissa Manda (449; 2007) for the seventh most digs in a single season at Kansas.
Senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers is inching toward her 100th career start as No. 98 will likely happen at Texas Tech. Not only does she rank in the top-10 in the Big 12 in kills (3.05) and points per set (3.56), but she is also iconic on the defensive end. Her 856 career kills are impressive, but her 804 career digs is what makes her iconic. She is now just the 12th Jayhawk to hit the 800-kill/800-dig mark in their careers. The last time an outside hitter (or a right-side, in both of their cases) tallied 800-career digs was Emily Brown, who eclipsed the mark in 2007.
SCOUTING TEXAS TECH (15-8, 3-8 BIG 12 CONFERENCE)
Texas Tech is led by head coach Don Flora, now in his fourth season with the Red Raiders. Flora began the 2014 season by guiding the Red Raiders to 13-straight wins, surpassing their 2013 win total before eventually taking their first loss to conference-foe West Virginia. Flora has also eclipsed the 300-career win mark, which puts him with the likes of Ray Bechard (Kansas), Jerritt Elliott (Texas), Jim Barnes (Baylor) and Santiago Restrepo (Oklahoma).
Senior libero Rachel Brummitt has been a defensive force on the back row, racking up 5.09 digs per set and ranking second in the conference. Last season, she became just the second Red Raider to earn an All-Big 12 selection since 2004.
Now in her junior season, outside hitter Jenna Allen has gained momentum as the offensive focus for the Red Raiders. Allen has come on strong as of late to lead the team in kills per set (3.20), which ranks sixth in the Big 12. Her 3.03 average in conference play has her ranked tenth among her Big 12 counterparts. Fellow teammate and senior outside hitter Breeann David follows suit with 204 kills, good enough for a 3.14 kills per set average on the year.
Expect two setters to distribute the offense as sophomore Marguerite Grubb and junior Emily Reutter average around nine assists per set.
HEAD COACH RAY BECHARD
On Texas Tech:
“They beat Iowa State at home, beat TCU at home and they’re knee-deep in it just like the rest of us. It’s just hard. When you play good opponents, you’re going to have rough stretches and you’re going to have momentum. I’m sure we’re going to get their very best effort on Saturday.”
On the importance of the win against Baylor:
“At this time of year to get an hour-and-a-half match and to come out and play as well as we did in the first two sets and make plays at the end of set three, that’s exactly what we needed.”
On focusing only on themselves as upsets continue to happen around the Big 12:
“There’s going to be craziness throughout. When you have a lot of parity in the league, that’s what is going to happen. We’ve just got to take care of our route and not worry about what other people are doing. We did that last night.”
On having a little much-needed fun in the Baylor match:
“Well, it was fun the way we came out. The first set wasn’t really in the balance and the second set wasn’t really in the balance. The third set, we’ve talked about how can we play better longer, and we kind of jumped out to a lead. They came back and then it went back-and-forth, so it was good to see us close a close third set. That experience will have value, but fun? Winning is fun. The process gets to be a bit of a grind, but we have another opportunity to keep moving forward.”
On the level of Tiana Dockery’s play against Baylor:
“She had some out-of-system swings that were key, where everything wasn’t perfect but she made a good play. I thought she was solid, for sure.”
Kansas will make the short drive to Manhattan, Kansas for the Sunflower Showdown against rival Kansas State on Wednesday, Nov. 12. First serve from Ahearn Fieldhouse is set for 7 p.m.
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