Jayhawks Start Final Week with West Virginia
LAWRENCE, Kan. – One week remains in the regular season and Kansas volleyball returns to Lawrence for back-to-back home matches, kicking off the week inside the Horejsi Family Athletics Center with West Virginia on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
AROUND THE GYM
- Thanks4Giving: $3 admission with canned food donation
- Jay Days: $2 hot dog and popcorn; $1 mini cone
- Family Four-Pack: Two adult/two youth tickets for $20
- Autographs: The Jayhawks will sign autographs after the match
- Doubleheader Day: Fans with volleyball tickets can attend the women’s basketball game for free. KU vs. Iona tips off at 8 p.m.
vs. West Virginia (KU leads, 7-0): In seven previous meetings, Kansas has gotten the best of West Virginia, although only two of those matches led to Jayhawk sweeps – including their most recent meeting when the Jayhawks defeated the Mountaineers in Morgantown on Oct. 15. WVU faced KU once in 1999 and again in 2000 before the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 prior to the 2012 season.
FOLLOW THE JAYHAWKS
The KU-WVU match will air on the Time Warner Cable SportsChannel with Leif Lisec and former Kansas volleyball standout Jill (Dorsey) Hall providing the analysis. The broadcast will also be available on ESPN3.com. Fans can listen to radio play-by-play on KUAthletics.com, found under the Fan Central tab. 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 1,009-285.
- Since starting 0-3 in Big 12 play, the Jayhawks have won eight of their last 11 conference contests. With Oklahoma (9-5) and Kansas State (9-5) tied for second place and also playing each other on Wednesday, a win for KU against West Virginia would put the Jayhawks in a tie for third place in the conference standings.
- Kansas jumped up to No. 14 in the latest NCAA RPI projections (11/24). That means KU has been outside of the RPI’s top-20 just three weeks in the last three years. Thus far in 2014, KU is 2-5 vs. top-25 RPI teams, 1-6 vs. top-50 and 10-7 vs. top-100 (at match time).
- The Jayhawk offense leads the Big 12 with 13.87 kills per set and 12.90 assists per set. Only Big 12 champion Texas (.140) holds opponents to a lower attack percentage than KU (.167) does.
- Freshman setter Ainise Havili is starting to make a habit of leading the Big 12 in assists. The Fort Worth native leads the Big 12 in assists per set both overall (11.31) and conference-only (11.48) action. Her assist average ranks 17th in the NCAA.
- Sophomore libero Cassie Wait is just two digs away from becoming the third Jayhawk in program history to surpass 500 digs in a season (Brianne Riley twice, Catalina Suarez). Her 4.74 dig average ranks third all-time in a KU single season.
- Senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers posted her eighth double-double of the year at Texas (11/22) with a match-high 16 kills and 11 digs. She is eight kills away from being the 10th Jayhawk in history to post 900-career kills/800-career digs.
- The Kansas middle blockers are dominating the Big 12 rankings, with three checking in among the top-four attack percentages in the league. Freshmen Kayla Cheadle (.354) and Kelsie Payne (.353) rank second and third, while sophomore Tayler Soucie is fourth (.330). Soucie (1.38, 2nd) and Payne (1.03, 8th) also rank in the top-10 in blocks per set.
With back-to-back top-20 RPI wins at Kansas State (11/12) and against Iowa State (11/19), Kansas jumped to No. 14 in the RPI – its best positioning of the season. Last year, the Jayhawks were No. 12 in the RPI going into the final week of the regular season.
KU’s 3-0 loss in Austin (11/22) marked Texas’ 14th sweep of the season, but just the third for Kansas in its last 73 matches – all of which were against top-five opponents (No. 5 Washington 12/13/13, No. 3 Penn State 9/13/14, No. 3 Texas 11/22/14).
LET’S GET THIS STRAIGHT
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 has since gone on a tear – winning eight of its last 11 matches – and still have a shot at finishing second. If Oklahoma (9-5) defeats Kansas State (9-5) on Wednesday, combined with a Jayhawk victory, then KU would need to defeat Oklahoma on Saturday for the chance to finish in a tie for second place in the conference. Should Kansas State defeat Oklahoma on Wednesday and West Virginia on Saturday, the Wildcats would take second place outright.
KANSAS vs. CONFERENCE KINGS
Kansas played seven teams that were picked to win their respective conferences in 2014: Lipscomb (Atlantic Sun), Creighton (BIG EAST), Denver (The Summit League), Yale (Ivy League), American (Patriot League), Penn State (Big Ten) and Texas (Big 12). So far, Denver, Yale and American have each officially punched their ticket to the 2014 NCAA Tournament by winning their conference tournaments.
LAST TIME vs. WEST VIRGINIA
After dropping set one at West Virginia (10/15), the Jayhawks couldn’t have responded any louder in set two, shelling out 13 kills on 25 swings and holding WVU to a mere five to win in a walk, 25-10. Out of the break, West Virginia did not allow a repeat of the second set, but Kansas never lost control. Senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers was a major factor in the turnaround and led the team with a double-double (15 kills/11 digs). Sophomore middle blocker Tayler Soucie cracked the double-digit mark for the first time in 2014, tallying 11 kills and no errors for a match-high .500 attack percentage. KU flipped an 8.0-2.0 WVU blocking advantage in set one into a 12.0-12.0 tie by the end of the night.
SCOUTING WEST VIRGINIA (15-13, 5-9 Big 12 Conference)
West Virginia is led by head coach Jill Kramer, now in her fifth season with the Mountaineers. Kramer, who is assisted by former KU volleyball standout Sara Kidd, steered her team to its highest peak in 2013, leading the Mountaineers to a 10-0 start, its first Big 12 Conference victory and the first 20-win season in over two decades. After dropping the opening match of the 2014 season to then-No. 9 BYU, WVU notched 10-consecutive wins.
After a stellar freshman campaign, sophomore outside hitter Jordan Anderson has continued to produce for the Mountaineers. Her 36 kills against TCU (10/11) are more than any other Big 12 attacker has racked up this year. She ranks first in the Big 12 in both points (5.10) and kills (4.64) per set. Last season she was named to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team and was All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. Her 4.64 kill average is more than two kills higher than any of her teammates, while her 2.32 digs per set rank third on the team. Junior opposite hitter Nikki Attea leads the team with a .284 attack percentage.
Freshman setter Lamprini Konstantinidou commands the offense and ranks fifth in the Big 12 with 11.19 assists per set. KU’s Ainise Havili (11.31 aps) leads Konstantinidou in average, and Havili has 1180 assists to Konstantinidou’s 893.
HEAD COACH RAY BECHARD
On closing out the last two matches of the regular season at home:
“It certainly is nice. We’ve played three of the last four on the road, so it’ll be good to be back in Horejsi. This time of year, hopefully we can play well and get some momentum into what we hope is another week of practice.”
On Texas’ four-straight Big 12 titles showing on Saturday:
“They played well. The thing I was most impressed with is that people come away talking about their athleticism or their physicality, but they were very good at pass and serve, too. When they do those two things, they create a whole different level of opportunity for their team. That was one of the few matches this year that I thought we didn’t have an advantage in those two areas.”
On Chelsea Albers’ performance at Texas:
“She was great. Offensively, obviously, we would have liked to have a little more balance. We had it going with her and she gave us an opportunity in the first two sets, especially the second set, but we’ve got to get back to creating more a of a balance offensively and making sure we still get her the volume she needs, but with other folks having the chance to also contribute offensively.”
On his team responding well to losses and bouncing back:
“You’ve got to in this league. West Virginia has won two in a row, and this is their best season in the Big 12. They want to finish strong with the two matches they have left. They’ll have our full, undivided attention.”
On West Virginia’s Jordan Anderson:
“She has 459 kills on the year, which is a bunch. Her 4.64 kills per set leads the league. Front row, back row, holding up at a .237 hitting efficiency, which is a good number, too. She’s well on her way to being one of the most prolific attackers they’ve ever had in school history.”
On Cassie Wait being two digs away from 500 on the year and Ainise Havili about to break the freshman assist record:
“They are the two most consistent players we’ve had in many ways. Cassie continues to bring it every match and Ainise now suddenly has the expectation on her that she’s going to be good every time out. That’s when you know a player’s doing a great job. When those two are playing at a high level, they give us a chance to be competitive in any match.”
Kansas will host Oklahoma on Senior Day, Saturday Nov. 29 inside the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. Seniors Chelsea Albers and Sara McClinton will be honored before and after the match. First serve is set for noon.
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