Volleyball Discusses NCAA Championship First Round Matchup

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No. 9 Kansas volleyball senior outside hitter Tiana Dockery, junior middle blocker Tayler Soucie and head coach Ray Bechard met with members of the media on Wednesday, prior to a first-round match against Furman in the NCAA Championship. First serve between the Jayhawks and Paladins is 6:30 p.m., on ESPN3 from Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

On hosting in Horejsi versus hosting in other locations in the past:
Tiana Dockery: “Playing in Horejsi feels more like a family vibe. I feel like it will be good for the other teams as well because it’s not in a huge arena and it brings the fans closer to us. We’re used to playing in Horejsi so that is a good thing for us.

Tayler Soucie: “A teammate of ours said it feels like just another game. It’s what we’re used to playing in every day. I think it will be great.”

On scouting Furman:
Soucie: “We know that they have good players, that they are scrappy and they are going to play all out just like any other team is going to. I think just like any other game you just go out to play KU volleyball and I think that’s what we have to do. “

On previous experiences from last year affecting their mindset this year:
Soucie:“It’s just going to be about who wants it more. We have to come out ready to play and I think last year we weren’t as ready as we thought we were. We’re really excited this year. We are in Horejsi, we’re actually on campus and we’re not elsewhere. Playing with that emotion will be good for us.”

On the locker room last year after losing in the first round:
Soucie: “It was not fun. We were very disappointed, tears were shed. We didn’t like that feeling and it doesn’t go away. We’re looking forward to not having that feeling again.”

On making this season a great season and validating their success:
Soucie: “We don’t need to overthink it. I think we just need to play Kansas volleyball; do what we do every day in practice and what we’ve done all season. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about making a good season, great. “

On their favorite parts about playing in Horejsi:
Dockery: “You just walk in the gym and it immediately puts a smile on your face. It helps your confidence just a little bit more. You just feel right at home as soon as you step on the court.”

Kansas Head Coach Ray Bechard
Opening statement:
“These guys talked a little bit about our preparation; yesterday we spent a little time in the gym trying to cover all three teams and some of their tendencies. Our plan for a Wednesday match, typically the day before our match is when we do the biggest scout. We’ll do video today and video tomorrow so they know some more tendencies of Furman. They’ll get a lot more familiar with them as we go through our open practice and some video we’re going to do before that. Then tomorrow is a big video day too as we plan for them. I think they made a great comment though. When you’re in a situation like this a lot of people say that you have to rise to the occasion, but really you just have to fall back on your training. You don’t have to be special, you have to be good like you’ve been all year. I thought that was really wise advice from somebody we trust quite a bit as we went through the year. Especially as we played Texas at home, everybody thinks you have to be this, you have to be that. No, trust your training and all the things your teammates have done for you all year. I think that’s important to remember as we go through this week too.”

On the performance of Furman’s setter:
“They do a couple things really well; a number of things. They have great offensive balance and she gets a sense for who’s got it going and who doesn’t. She distributes the ball really well. They’ve got six girls that can play five positions. I have watched a lot of Furman film, the team hasn’t seen a great deal but the setter always puts a hittable ball out there and puts her hitters in good position. One of the keys is how do we slow them down because they are hitting .250 and getting 14 kills per set. Those are very good numbers, I don’t care what league you play in. We’ll have our hands full defensively.”

On the advantage of playing in Horejsi:
“There’s going to be a comfort level there but we still have to play and perform at a high level. It’s only after I talked to some alumni who said they wished they had the opportunity to play in Horejsi that we got the sense that the team felt that way too. If you get to host, I don’t care where they put you, you better be ready to play and you’re ready to represent your conference, your athletic department and yourself. That fact it’s in Horejsi is valuable. It will create an intimate environment like we’re used to. We’ve got three really good teams here and we’re going to have to battle to be the one team standing when it’s all said and done.”