Set on Second: No. 22 Kansas Travels to No. 24 Iowa State
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A half-game separates No. 22 Kansas from No. 24 Iowa State in the Big 12 Conference standings, and the Jayhawks have the opportunity to flip the slim advantage in their favor Wednesday night inside the Hilton Coliseum at 6:30 p.m.
vs. Iowa State (ISU leads, 46-36-1): When the teams squared off on Oct. 23, Iowa State was unranked for the KU contest for the first time in since 2008. Iowa State returned to the rankings this week, checking in at No. 24. The Cyclones have the upper hand as of late in the all-time series that dates back to 1975, winning eight of the last 10 meetings. Most recently, KU lost a heartbreaker in Lawrence – falling in the fifth set by the minimum two points. A win on Wednesday will prove challenging as ISU holds a convincing edge at home, 26-7.
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. Cyclones.TV will live stream Wednesday’s match for a subscription fee. Fans can also monitor the action on Live Stats or by following @KUVolleyball on Twitter.
- At 10-3 in the Big 12, Kansas is a half-game behind Iowa State’s 10-2 conference record. The Jayhawks have the opportunity to finish the season in second place, a feat the Jayhawks have never before accomplished.
- Expect a fair fight, Kansas ranks directly in front of Iowa State in: hitting percentage (.266/.246), assists (13.71/13.11) and kills (14.63/14.09).
- Kansas is knotted with No. 1 Texas as the toughest defense in the league, holding opponents to a conference-best .180 attack percentage.
- For the fourth-straight week, KU has moved up in the AVCA Top-25 Poll. This week Kansas is ranked No. 22 (11/18), marking the sixth week Kansas has been on the national poll this season.
- The Jayhawks also improved their footing in the RPI, jumping to No. 11 in the latest NCAA RPI projections (11/18). KU has been in the RPI’s top-20 every week of the last two seasons.
- Freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie was named the Big 12 Rookie of the Week (11/18), her fourth weekly award of the season and KU’s 11th. Soucie trails mentor Caroline Jarmoc (five) for the most weekly conference awards in a career by a Jayhawk.
- Two players in the Big 12 hit for a better efficiency than Soucie (.348). She trails OU senior Sallie McLaurin (.440) and Texas rookie Chiaka Ogbogu (.432). Soucie and UT’s Molly McCage are knotted at .348 although Soucie has 61 more kills.
- Senior setter Erin McNorton leads the Big 12 for the 12th-straight week with 12.24 assists per set. Only two setters in the country average more assists per set than McNorton: Caitlin Dotson, Lipscomb (12.74) and Molly Kreklow, Missouri (12.56).
- Kansas ranks in the top-25 in the NCAA in kills (14.63, 10th NCAA), assists (13.71, 10th NCAA) and hitting percentage (.266, 22nd NCAA). Blocking isn’t too shabby either as KU’s 2.64 blocks per set is 38th-best in the country.
CHALK UP ANOTHER
Freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie was named the Big 12 Rookie of the Week on Nov. 11. Her four weekly conference awards in a season is a KU record, while the seven different Jayhawks that have earned a Player of the Week award is a conference record. Kansas has now collected 11 weekly honors this season, which ties for fifth most in Big 12 history.
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)
Oct. 21 – Chelsea Albers (Defensive)
Nov. 4 – Tayler Soucie (Rookie)
Nov. 11 – Tayler Soucie (Rookie)
Redshirt senior Catherine Carmichael led the Jayhawks with 13 kills against Texas (11/9) and 14 kills against Kansas State (11/16) to push her season total to 165. With that, Kansas now has six players with 150-plus kills – a feat last achieved in 2002. The 2002 squad barely made the cut, however, with its sixth member (Molly Scavuzzo) recording 151 kills. No one in KU’s starting lineup is hitting under .200, while two are in the Big 12’s top-five in freshman Tayler Soucie (.348, T-3rd) and redshirt senior Caroline Jarmoc (.327, 5th).
With KU’s win against Kansas State (11/16), head coach Ray Bechard and his Jayhawks reached another milestone. The victory gave Kansas 20 victories on the season, marking the first time in the Bechard era that KU has posted back-to-back 20-win seasons. In fact, the last time KU posted the accomplishment was in the 1982 (22-29) and 1983 (26-21) seasons. The last time they did it with winning records? 1977 (35-24-4) and 1978 (31-24-2).
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
Chances are good that redshirt senior outside hitter Catherine Carmichael (499) and junior outside hitter Chelsea Albers (495) will both collect their 500th career kills at Iowa State. If and when that happens, the duo will join junior outside hitter Sara McClinton (919) and redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc (1,261) as the other Jayhawks on the court with 500+ career kills.
The Jayhawks’ road toughness will be tested on Wednesday. KU hasn’t won in Ames since Oct. 13, 2004. In fact, until winning the third set last season, the Jayhawks hadn’t even taken a set in Ames since that 2004 victory.
ROAD SWEET ROAD
Kansas’ loss at No. 1 Texas is only the second loss that the Jayhawks have suffered on the road this season and the first in Big 12 play. KU is 9-2 in road matches in 2013, with true road victories at Wisconsin (RPI: 15), Arizona (RPI: 20) and Arkansas (RPI: 40).
TRUE FRESHMEN TRIO
Freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie cranked out nine kills and nine blocks against Kansas State (11/16), bringing her season totals to 174 kills and 108 total blocks – and making her the third true freshman in program history to surpass 100 blocks and 100 kills in her debut season. Emily Brown (231 kills/113 blocks) in 2004 and Josi Lima (327 kills/103 blocks) in 2002 are the only other players on the short list. Soucie has recorded at least one block in 23-straight matches and needs just six more to become KU’s all-time best rookie blocker. Mentor Caroline Jarmoc holds the record for blocks in a debut season with 115, but it was her redshirt freshman campaign (2010).
HOW SWEEP IT IS
The Jayhawks started their season with only two sweeps in the first 10 matches. Sixteen matches later, KU has accumulated 10 victories in 3-0 fashion. More impressively, the Jayhawks have yet to be swept this season and haven’t been since Oct. 12, 2012 (at No. 9 Texas) – a span of 39 matches.
Senior librero Brianne Riley gave up one streak while continuing another. KU’s libero tallied only seven digs in the Jayhawks’ win over Kansas State (11/16) – the first time in 52 matches that the Naperville, Ill., native did not post double-digit digs. Junior outside hitter Chelsea Albers (11) and senior setter Erin McNorton (13) did the majority of the digging work, thanks to the Wildcat attackers hitting around Riley. Although her individual streak ended, her team’s extended their win streak against KSU to four-straight for the first time since 1993.
SCOUTING NO. 24 IOWA STATE (17-6 Overall, 10-2 Big 12)
Under the direction of ninth-year head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch, Iowa State is one of only seven teams in the nation to advance to the regional semifinals five times since 2007. The Cyclones were voted to finish second in the 2013 Big 12 Preseason Coaches’ Poll and currently rest there – a half-game in front of Kansas. Although Iowa State was not ranked in the teams’ last meeting for the first time since 2008, the Cyclones are back on the poll for Wednesday’s contest, making them ranked in nine of the last 10 contests against KU. Since defeating Kansas on Oct. 23 in Lawrence, the Cyclones have not lost since and enter midweek action on a seven-match win streak, five of which were sweeps.
Sophomore right side Mackenzie Bigbee has picked up right where she left off after earning Big 12 Freshman of the Year status in 2012. She leads the team with 3.27 kills per set, good for sixth in the Big 12. Freshman outside hitter Ciara Capezio comes in second on the team with a 3.07 kill average, while digging 2.47 balls per set. Senior middle blocker
Tenisha Matlock leads the starters with a .324 attack percentage, which checks in at sixth in the conference.
The biggest adjustment the Cyclones have faced in 2013 is filling the void left by two-time All-American setter Allison Landwehr’s departure. Sophomore Jenelle Hudson has filled in flawlessly, averaging 11.22 assists per set, ranking second only to KU’s Erin McNorton (12.24). However, an injury sidelined Hudson in ISU’s win at West Virginia (11/13), and junior defensive specialist/setter Taylor Goetz stepped in for her first start as a setter, recording 32 assists and 12 digs, both career-highs and also chipping in a service ace and her first career kill. The Iowa State offense hit .329 for the match.
Defense at the net marks the only area the Jayhawks may have the clear-cut upper hand as Kansas ranks third in the league in blocking (2.64 bps) and Iowa State ranks last (1.62 bps). The tables are turned at the service line, however, as the Cyclones lead the league in aces per set (1.79), while Kansas is last (0.84). Luckily for the visitors, KU does lead the Big 12 in aces allowed (0.67).
HEAD COACH RAY BECHARD
On the magnitude of the match against Iowa State:
“It’s significant because of the standings, where they’re at and both teams really trying to finish strong. I think both teams really appear to be in pretty good shape as far as the NCAA Tournament is concerned. Your Big 12 finish is something you can always take pride in and the fact that there’s two top-25 teams meeting at this time of year should create some interest for both teams to play at a really good level.”
On his players accepting the task at hand:
“We could tip-toe around it, but they know that this is a significant match in a lot of different ways. The Jayhawks have never been in the top-two in the Big 12 before and this gives us an opportunity to get back and have a shot at that. Plus, it was a pretty tough loss the last time we played them in a great five-set match. Iowa State played great in that match and we had great moments, we just didn’t have enough. I think the combination of all of those things will add a little bit of interest to the match. You can’t put too much emphasis into one match, but at the same time this time of year there’s no reason not to get after it, too. It’ll be a lot of fun.”
On Kansas’ success this season on the road:
“We have played pretty tough on the road, the two losses were to Creighton when they were playing really well and then to No. 1 Texas and we had a chance to extend both of those matches. This would be our biggest road win probably to this point, obviously at Wisconsin was a big win, too, but we will have to have a similar type effort and I think it will be a similar type match to that match.”
On Hilton Coliseum:
“Their fans are outstanding in all of their sports. I know they really support their men’s and women’s basketball as well as volleyball. With the success that they’ve had, they’ve had a run now for about a decade, so that’s been good. Their fans appreciate good volleyball and good effort and it’ll be a lively atmosphere I’m sure.”
On the previous match against Kansas State:
“We can say we got off to a slow start, but man, K-State was performing at a high level offensively and there’s not much we could do to slow them down. We finally matched that in the second set, we hit upper .300’s or something, they hit .400 and we still figured out a way to win. At the break I think we understood the emphasis where it needed to be and the response to sets three and four was really good.”
On the team’s progression this season:
“You look back at this and you see and you didn’t think that would happen or that would happen, but overall if you tell me we have 20 wins with four to play we would be pretty happy, considering the schedule that we bit off. Now it’s about can we really have a good ending the last two weeks because we’ve got some tough matches in front of us. That and what kind of momentum can we build when and if the postseason comes our way. We can look back on some good things, but many coaches and many fans remember how seasons end. We not only have a chance to have a good ending to our regular season, but also build some momentum into the third phase of our season which would be the post season.”
No. 22 Kansas will come home for a very special senior day on Saturday, Nov. 26. The Jayhawks will play host to Texas Tech and recognize their seven seniors prior to the match and welcome them to speak to the crowd following the match. First serve is set for 1 p.m.
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