NCAA Tournament: Kansas Faces Creighton in Second Round
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Looking for its first trip to the Sweet 16 in program history, No. 14 overall-seeded Kansas will host its second round match of the NCAA Tournament against Creighton inside Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
vs. Creighton (Kansas leads, 6-1): In a series that dates back to 1979, Kansas had not lost to Creighton until three months ago. A battle at the net in Omaha on Sept. 10, the Jayhawks out-blocked the Bluejays 18-16, but Creighton closed out the tightly-contested evening in four sets. Saturday marks the seventh meeting between Kansas and Creighton in the Ray Bechard era and the second since the Bluejays joined the Big East Conference. KU is 4-0 against CU in Lawrence.
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 free of charge. Aaron Berlin will have the call.
The final NCAA Tournament match from Lawrence will air on ESPN3.com, as Kansas is the only First and Second Round host site to broadcast the matches using ESPN. Leif Lisec and Jill Dorsey-Hall will provide the analysis. Fans can also monitor the action on Live Stats or by following @KUVolleyball on Twitter.
- Kansas is looking for its first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. The Jayhawks have been as close as three points away from the feat as they took No. 7 Washington to a 15-12 fifth set in the second round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
- Redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc cranked out 16 kills and committed just one error in KU’s win against Wichita State in the first round. Her 34 career NCAA Tournament kills are now the third-most in KU postseason history.
- Additionally, Jarmoc brought her overall career total to 1,317, surpassing former players Sarah Rome (1,306) and Karina Garlington (1,309) for second all-time at Kansas.
- Senior libero Brianne Riley tallied her third-straight 20-plus dig performance on Friday. Her 21 digs against the Shockers gives her 60 total in her postseason career, a Kansas record. Not surprising for the player who has now amassed 2,024 for her career – the fifth-most in Big 12 history.
- Junior outside hitter Chelsea Albers picked a great opportunity to set a new career-high. The All-Big 12 First Team member busted loose for a career-high 17 kills and missed a double-double by just two digs against Wichita State.
- Speaking of double-doubles, the Big 12 Setter of the Year – senior Erin McNorton – tallied her seventh of the season in KU’s win over Wichita State with 54 assists and 10 digs. That was No. 18 for her career, while she also broke the 3,000-assist barrier. Heading into round two, McNorton is sitting at 3,009.
- The Jayhawks played in front of 4,017 fans in the first round match – the seventh-largest crowd to watch a KU home match.
- Kansas completed its mission of doing what no other Jayhawk volleyball team has – finish second in the Big 12 Conference. The Jayhawks did so with a 12-4 league record, second only to defending national champion Texas, who finished 16-0.
- KU is 30-5 in last 35 home matches, dating back to the end of the 2011 season.
- Kansas checks in at No. 23 on the AVCA Top-25 Poll (12/2), marking the seventh week Kansas has been on the national poll this season. The Jayhawks have been on the poll or receiving votes in 20 of the last 23 weeks. Creighton is receiving votes on the poll.
- Kansas finished the regular season at No. 13 in the NCAA RPI (12/2). The Jayhawks have not been outside the RPI’s top-20 in the last two years.
- The Jayhawks have played 15 matches against 11 teams included in the NCAA Tournament field in 2013, going 8-7 in those matches.
- Kansas ranks in the top-30 in the NCAA in kills (14.47, 14th NCAA), assists (13.58, 13th NCAA) and hitting percentage (.260, 30th NCAA). Additionally, KU’s 2.58 blocks per set are 46th-best in the country. (NCAA Stats Released: 12/2)
KANSAS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
2003 (1-1): In its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance Kansas swept Long Beach State in the first-round match in Malibu, Calif. In the second round, top-seeded Pepperdine won its 25th-straight match that season to knock KU out of the tournament.
2004 (1-1): Kansas defeated Santa Clara in four sets in the first round in Seattle, Wash. In the second round, KU came back from an 0-2 deficit but fell in five sets to Washington.
2005 (0-1): After a 15-15 season, an injury-depleted Jayhawk roster fell in the first round to UCLA, 3-1.
2012 (1-1): Posting the best winning percentage in program history (.788), Kansas earned a No. 11 overall seed and first and second round hosting rights. The Jayhawks welcomed more than 8,000 fans to Allen Fieldhouse over the two-day tournament, which saw KU defeat Cleveland State in the first round and fall to Wichita State in the second.
DANCING IN THE FIELDHOUSE
- 49 NCAA Tournament games have been played in AFH, 37 of which were men’s basketball
- Allen Fieldhouse hosted an NCAA Men’s Basketball Regional Championship eight times from 1956-78, which still ranks as the fourth most “Elite 8” games hosted in one venue all-time.
- 1997 was the last time AFH hosted an NCAA Tournament game in any sport until the Kansas volleyball team hosted the first and second rounds of the 2012 NCAA Tournament – and again in 2013.
Kansas was dealt a stacked deck when the NCAA Selection Committee picked its set of teams for the Lawrence site. As the No. 1 seed in the pod, Kansas will square off against No. 4-seeded Wichita State on Friday. The Shockers are hardly a prototypical four-seed. WSU tied for the regular-season Missouri Valley Conference crown before locking up the automatic bid when it won the MVC Tournament. At 28-6 overall, the Shockers’ winning percentage (.824) ranks only behind College of Charleston’s .833 (RPI: 65) and Jacksonville’s .909 (RPI: 89). In the most recent RPI release (12/2), Wichita State checks in at No. 35. The No. 4 seed closest to that in this year’s tournament is UC Santa Barbara (RPI: 60).
Aside from WSU, Kansas (RPI: 13) is welcoming Creighton (RPI: 16) and Arkansas (RPI: 36) to give the Lawrence bracket an average RPI of 25. The Madison, Wis., bracket is the next closest with Wisconsin (RPI: 15), North Carolina (RPI: 22), California (RPI: 38) and Milwaukee (RPI: 77).
TWICE AS NICE
For the second-straight season, head coach Ray Bechard was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year, the league office announced (12/2). In his 16th season, 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.
SETTER OF THE YEAR
Senior Erin McNorton, the conference’s assists leader for the last two seasons, was unanimously voted the Big 12 Setter of the Year (12/2). The Dallas native currently leads the Big 12 for the 14th-straight week with 12.18 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 3,009 career assists rank sixth all-time at KU, an amazing feat considering she has started just 64 matches in four years.
ALL-BIG 12 BIG TIMERS
Four Jayhawks were named to the All-Big 12 First Team (12/2), doubling KU’s previous season-high of First Team award winners (two, 2012). Senior Erin 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.
SCOUTING CREIGHTON (23-8 Overall, 12-4 BIG EAST)
Voted to win its first season as a member of the new BIG EAST Conference, Creighton is led by the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year, Kristen Bernthal Booth. The Bluejays ended the regular season with a second-place finish in their new conference and are making their third NCAA Tournament appearance in the last four years. Ranked No. 16 in the RPI and receiving votes on the AVCA Division I Coaches poll, the Bluejays started the fall 9-3 against one of the nation’s most challenging non-conference schedules, and own five wins against teams that have been ranked this season – including the Jayhawks (9/10).
Creighton had a pair of juniors earn First Team All-BIG EAST acclaim this fall in middle blocker Kelli Browning, who leads the team with a .327 attack percentage. She was a force against Arkansas in the first round, recording a double-double with 15 kills and 11 blocks. Outside hitter Leah McNary was the other all-league player and leads the team with 3.06 kills per set. Spreading around the offense is second-team all-conference member Michelle Sicner, who averages 10.02 blocks and 2.70 digs per set.
A veteran team, the Jays return many of the stars that powered the team to both a regular season and tournament championship in their farewell season in the MVC in 2012. Browning claimed All-America honorable mention and MVC Defensive Player of the Year honors during her sophomore season. She finished last year tied for the nation’s lead in blocks in 2012 and currently averages 1.52 per set as she and the Creighton front line churn out a foreboding 3.06 blocks per set, the second-best mark in the nation.
In the back row, sophomore Kate Elman reprises her role as the starting libero after leading all MVC freshmen in digs last season. Her 4.13 digs per set leads a team that digs up 15.71 balls each frame.
The winner of Saturday’s match will advance to the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles, Calif., region. Hosted by USC, matches are scheduled to be played on Dec. 13-14.
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