No. 9 Kansas Ready For NCAA Regionals
|No. 9 Kanas vs. Loyola Marymount
San Diego, Calif.
Jenny Craig Pavilion
Friday, Dec. 11, 2015
7:30 p.m. CT
• SWEET 16: No. 9-seed Kansas faces Loyola Marymount in the NCAA Championship “Sweet 16” on Friday (7:30 p.m. CT, ESPN3) at Jenny Craig Pavilion on the campus of the University of San Diego. The winner faces No. 1 USC or No. 16 Creighton on Saturday (10 p.m. CT, ESPNU) in the regional final. KU advanced past the first and second rounds at home last week by defeating Furman and No. 25 Missouri at Horejsi Family Athletics Center. KU’s only other Sweet 16 appearance was also on the west coast – Los Angeles in 2013.
• KU-LOYOLA MARYMOUNT SERIES: Kansas and Loyola Marymount will meet for the third time, and first during postseason play, on Friday. The series is tied, 1-1. The Jayhawks won the last meeting in South Bend, Indiana, 3-1, on Sept. 14, 2012. KU holds a combined 9-2 record against teams in the San Diego Region – Loyola Marymount (1-1), USC (0-0), Creighton (8-1).
• KANSAS IN THE NCAAs: KU enters Friday’s match with a 7-6 all-time record in seven postseason appearances. A win on Friday would be KU’s first appearance in an NCAA Regional Final. Head coach Ray Bechard has coached all seven of KU’s NCAA tournament teams.
• AGAINST THE FIELD: Kansas holds a 10-2 record against teams in the NCAA Championship. The Jayhawks boast elevated numbers against the nation’s top-64 teams in kills per set (15.7), digs per set (17.6) compared to overall season averages. Sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne averages 4.9 kills per set against tournament teams, up from her overall season average of 4.4 kills per set.
• DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: After the first two rounds of the NCAA Championship, Kansas ranks third in opponent hitting percentage (.098) among the field of 64. The Jayhawks held Furman to a .140 hitting percentage in the first round and No. 25 Missouri to a .061 hitting percentage and just 28 kills in the second round.
• BORDER WAR REVIEW: Kansas advanced to the Sweet 16 after sweeping No. 25 Missouri, 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 27-25), in the first meeting between the old rivals since 2011. The Jayhawks cruised to first- and second-set victories before trailing by six late in the third set, 18-12. Junior serving specialist Maggie Anderson took the service line in the third set with Mizzou at set-point, 24-21, and helped KU come back with aggressive serves that forced three Mizzou attacking errors. Kansas clinched the third-set win and the match on two consecutive kills from sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne.
• KANSAS SWEEPS FURMAN: Kansas improved to 5-2 in the first round of NCAA tournament play with a sweep over Furman on Thursday night, 3-0 (25-14, 25-21, 25-17). Thursday’s victory marked KU’s 100th win in the last four seasons; since 2012 KU is 100-26. Kansas set postseason program records for hitting percentage (.364) and aces (11) against the Paladins. Sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne led Kansas with 13 kills on a .423 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Madison Rigdon posted a career-high four aces.
• FOURTH TIME FOR DOCKERY: Senior Tiana Dockery officially became the first Jayhawk to compete in an NCAA postseason match during all four years of her collegiate career last week.
• ELITE HOSTS: The Jayhawks are among seven elite programs to host the first and second rounds of the tournament in the last four seasons, joining Stanford, Penn State, Nebraska, Texas, Washington, and Florida.
• TOP 10: Kansas is ranked No. 9 in the current AVCA Coaches Poll. The poll does not update during the postseason. The Jayhawks have been ranked in the top-25 for a program-record 13-consecutive weeks, including nine-consecutive weeks in the top-10. KU reached a program-high No. 7 ranking on Oct. 19. In the latest NCAA RPI rankings, also released on Monday, KU is ranked No. 9.