Big 12 Coach, Setter of the Year Highlight Kansas Accolades
Complete Big 12 Awards List
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas veteran head coach Ray Bechard received his second-consecutive Big 12 Coach of the Year honor on Monday, but was even more excited for senior Erin McNorton, who was unanimously tabbed the Big 12 Setter of the Year. The duo highlighted the extensive list of Jayhawks named to the all-conference team, announced by the league office.
Bechard and McNorton kicked off a long list of great news that Kansas received on Monday as four Jayhawks were named to the All-Big 12 First Team, doubling KU’s previous season-high of First Team award winners (two, 2012). McNorton, along with redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc and junior outside hitters Sara McClinton and Chelsea Albers, were each recognized on the First Team. Tayler Soucie, the fifth-best blocker in the league, was named to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team.
In his 16th season at the helm of Kansas volleyball, Bechard becomes the only coach in program history to earn the distinction in back-to-back seasons and just the third overall at KU. KU’s all-time winningest coach, Bechard is one of five league coaches to win the award multiple times and third to do so in back-to-back seasons.
“It’s flattering that the coaches would think that, but really it’s just a reflection of a lot of work by a lot of people,” Bechard said. “Most importantly, ‘Bird’ (Laura Kuhn), Todd (Chamberlain) and Wendel (Camargo) on our staff. It’s also a reflection of the type of year this team put together and the type of commitment they made. An award like this represents the program, not the individual.”
Bechard, who works and trains directly with the Jayhawk setters, was quick to turn all the attention to the leader of his offense and the Big 12’s assists leader for the last two seasons in McNorton. The Dallas native currently leads the Big 12 for the 14th-straight week with 12.13 assists per set, which ranks fourth in the nation.
McNorton’s accuracy, consistency and decision making powered Kansas to a .260 attack percentage to close out the regular season – the best in program history. Her 2,955 career assists rank sixth all-time at KU, an amazing feat considering she has started just 63 matches in four years.
“She is such a great story, going from a walk-on to the year she’s had,” Bechard said. “She has never once looked for any notoriety or attention, she just goes to work every day. I think she is extremely deserving and we’re excited for her.”
Jarmoc leads the all-conference charge with her third-career selection and second-straight First Team nod. The Calgary, Alberta, Canada native becomes the first Jayhawk to earn First Team honors in consecutive seasons since Josi Lima (2002-05). KU’s all-time blocks leader at 547, Jarmoc is the only Jayhawk in history to record 100 or more blocks in all four of her seasons and ranks second in Big 12 history with 100 solo blocks. Kansas volleyball’s first All-American, Jarmoc holds KU’s single-season record for attack percentage (.386, 2012) and also leads the Jayhawk standard in career attack percentage (.325).
At the conclusion of the regular season, Jarmoc ranks in the Big 12’s top-10 in attack percentage, kills per set, blocks per set and points per set.
McClinton joins Jarmoc as the other Jayhawk to chalk up back-to-back All-Big 12 First Team accolades as the Omaha native earned her first career honor in 2012. All of this season, McClinton has checked in among the top-10 in the conference in kills per set and currently leads the team at 3.20. Her 23-kill, no-error performance at Baylor (10/5) checks in as the fifth-best single-match performance in 2013.
One of the most versatile players on the floor at all times, Albers picked up her first all-conference award. The Papillion, Neb., native does it all as her 300 kills, 261 digs and 105 blocks makes her the first Jayhawk to post the impressive 300-kill, 200-dig, 100-block season since former standout Cyndee Kanabel did so in 1993 (367 kills, 283 digs, 100 blocks). Albers’ 14 kills and no errors on 20 swings against North Dakota State (9/20) is the third-best performance in the Big 12 this year and she ranks in the top-10 in points per set.
After the departure of veteran middle Tayler Tolefree in 2012, Bechard and his staff were in need of a new presence to step up and fill that position in 2013. Soucie did exactly that – and then some. The rookie from Osawatomie, Kan., broke the Kansas record for most blocks in a debut season as she currently stands at 123 with the NCAA Tournament still ahead of her. She has ranked in the top-five among Big 12 blockers all season long and leads the Jayhawks with 1.21 blocks per set and a .345 attack percentage. Soucie’s 12 block assists at then-No. 24 Creighton (9/10) is a KU single-match record.
Kansas Big 12 Award Winners
Coach of the Year: Ray Bechard
Setter of the Year: Erin McNorton
Kansas All-Big 12 First Team
Chelsea Albers, Jr., OH
Caroline Jarmoc, RS Sr., MB
Sara McClinton, Jr., OH
Erin McNorton, Sr., S
Kansas All-Big 12 Freshman Team
Tayler Soucie, Fr., MB
Armed with the No. 14 overall seed, Kansas will square off against Wichita State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament inside Allen Fieldhouse, Friday, Dec. 6, at 6:30 p.m. Kansas is hosting the first and second rounds for the second-consecutive season.
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