Sweep Again! Kansas Wins All Big 12 Weekly Awards
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Last month, Kansas became the fourth instance in conference history that a team claimed all three weekly awards. On Monday, the Jayhawks swept again for an unprecedented second time in the same season. Tiana Dockery (offensive), Cassie Wait (defensive) and Ainise Havili (rookie) were each awarded for their league-leading performances the week of Nov. 3-10.
The trio was a major factor in the Jayhawks’ success last week, which saw Kansas pick up wins at home against Baylor and on the road at Texas Tech. KU moved above .500 in conference play at 6-5 and stand at 18-7 overall, putting Kansas in sole possession of fourth place with a meeting at third-place Kansas State on Wednesday. With the parity in the league effecting every member of the Big 12, head coach Ray Bechard is happy with not only the three award winners, but also that his team is hitting its peak in the home stretch of the regular season.
“Every win is a big win in conference play,” Bechard said. “Each team is simply too talented to beat with just one or two of your players having a good night. All of our players have to play at a high level. These three were a big part of that, and they had good support from their teammates, too. It is great to see these three get recognition, but they would agree that it’s even better to see our team finding ways to win in this crucial part of the season.”
Since the inception of the Rookie of the Week honor in 2008, only four times has one school swept all three awards, including Kansas (Nebraska, Oct. 27, 2008; Iowa State, Nov. 16, 2009; Missouri, Sept. 7, 2010; Kansas Oct. 20, 2014). No team had pulled off the award sweep twice in one season – until now.
Kansas has won multiple awards in the same week six times in program history, five of which have come within the last two seasons. For the year, KU has tallied eight total awards by five different players. Last season, the Jayhawks broke the Big 12 record with seven total players being recognized, while their 11 total awards in 2013 tied for fifth-most in conference history.
An explosive player known for her ability to create a spark either off the bench or as a starter, Dockery, a junior outside hitter, proved the point further as she powered her team to wins against Baylor and Texas Tech. For the week, she chalked up 32 kills which calculated into an impressive 4.57 kills per set average. Dockery also turned in 20 digs over the two-match span and 1.00 blocks per set, putting her well above five points per frame.
Against Baylor at home, Dockery was the only Jayhawk in double-digits with 12 kills in three quick sets against the Bears. She really stood out on the road against Texas Tech, however, as Kansas was forced into comeback mode after losing the first set in Lubbock. She recorded just three kills in the opening frame, which TTU claimed 25-22. From there, the junior outside erupted for 17 kills for the remainder of the match to power KU to win the next three-straight sets. Her 20 kills against the Red Raiders were a season-high and just one short of her career high of 21 (at Wisconsin, 9/13/13). Her 13 digs accounted for Dockery’s third double-double of the year, while she added four blocks. This is the second career Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week award for Dockery and the third weekly nod of her career.
After KU’s win at Texas Tech, Bechard took a moment to acknowledge his libero for her work. Even though Cassie Wait’s most prominent stat doesn’t directly result in points, her work as the Jayhawks’ defensive captain has been consistently stellar. For the week, Wait led the Big 12 in digs (35) and digs per set (5.00) to help her squad keep its hold on fourth place in the conference standings. Overall, Wait ranks second in the Big 12 in digs (452) and third in digs per set (4.76).
For the season, Wait is climbing KU’s single season digs list. Sitting at 452 digs, Wait moved up to seventh on the top-10 list last week. If the season ended today, Wait’s 4.76 dig average would be the third-best for a single season in KU’s history. This marks the second career Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week award for Wait.
Havili has been the epitome of consistency for the Jayhawks, starting all 25 matches at setter thanks to her ability to make decisions and spread the ball around. For the week, Havili averaged a cool 12.00 assists per set, to lead the Big 12, and added a 2.43 dig average. Against Baylor, she handed out 38 dimes in a quick three sets and set up 46 assists on the road at Texas Tech. Against the Red Raiders, Havili came up just one dig short of her 13th double-double of the year.
With 1,066 assists, Havili is currently averaging nearly 42.6 assists per match, putting her on pace to take over the most assists by a KU rookie (Katie Martincich, 2006, 1,193). The Fort Worth native leads the Big 12 in conference-only action with 11.29 assists per set and is the only setter with more than 500 assists in league matches (508). Overall, the rookie floor general leads the conference with her 1,066 assists. Havili leads the Jayhawks with three Big 12 weekly awards this season.
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. and will be televised on Cox Kansas 22.
2014 Kansas Big 12 Players of the Week
Sept. 22 – Madison Rigdon (Offensive)
Oct. 13 – Ainise Havili (Rookie)
Oct. 20 –Tayler Soucie (Offensive)
Oct. 20 – Cassie Wait (Defensive)
Oct. 20 – Ainise Havili (Rookie)
Nov. 10 – Tiana Dockery (Offensive)
Nov. 10 – Cassie Wait (Defensive)
Nov. 10 – Ainise Havili (Rookie)
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