No. 9 Kansas Faces No. 4 Nebraska in First NCAA Semifinal Appearance
|No. 9 Kansas vs. No. 4 Nebraska
NCAA Championship Semifinal
Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015
8:30 p.m. CT
No. 9 Kansas will make its first appearance in the NCAA Championship Semifinals against No. 4 Nebraska on Thursday night (8:30 p.m., ESPN2) inside CenturyLink Center in Omaha. The former Big 12 foes are facing off for the first time since 2010.
The match will be televised nationally on ESPN2 with Beth Mowins, Karch Kiraly, and Holly Rowe calling the action.
ALL-AMERICANS: Sophomore setter Ainise Havili and sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne earned AVCA All-America First Team honors on Wednesday, as voted on by a committee of AVCA members. The honors are another unprecedented accomplishment for KU this season as it is the first time Kansas has been represented on the AVCA All-America First Team. Havili and Payne are the keystones to one of the most potent offenses in the country, which ranks fourth in hitting percentage (.305), second in kills per set (15.1), and second in assists per set (14.2). Havili, Payne, and the Jayhawks hold the highest winning percentage (.938) in the nation, and best in program history, this season with a 30-2 record.
KANSAS-NEBRASKA SERIES: Kansas and Nebraska will meet for the 88th time on Thursday. The Huskers have won all but one of the meetings with the Jayhawks, the other a tie.
FINAL FOUR: Kansas will face No. 4 Nebraska for the first time since 2010 in the NCAA semifinals on Thursday night (8:30 p.m., ESPN2) in Omaha’s CenturyLink Center. On the other side of the bracket, No. 3 Texas and No. 2 Minnesota face off in the first match on Thursday (6 p.m., ESPN2). It is the second NCAA Volleyball Final Four featuring two Big 12 teams.
THE COMEBACK: Kansas advanced to the NCAA semifinals in one of the most dramatic finishes the sport has ever seen. The Jayhawks closed out the fifth set against No. 1 USC by going on a 6-0 run to erase a 13-9 deficit and compete the upset. Junior libero Cassie Wait served for KU during the run and came up clutch with an ace and a number of athletic digs to keep KU’s hopes alive. Coming out of a KU timeout, Janae Hall recorded the first kill of the run, followed by a pair of USC errors. Wait’s ace, which landed in the section of espnW National Player of the Year Samantha Bricio, tied the set at 13 and forced a USC timeout. Kansas went to Kelsie Payne to give the Jayhawks their first lead of the set on match point, 14-13. Match point was the longest and most dramatic rally of the match. After crossing the net 14 times, Madison Rigdon’s attack from the left side sliced through the USC defense and landed untouched in the back corner of the court to clinch the unprecedented win for the Jayhawks.
HOW THEY ADVANCED: No. 9 Kansas made its first NCAA semifinal in program history after advancing out of the San Diego Region last week with a pair of wins over Loyola Marymount in the round of 16 and No. 1 USC in the regional final at Jenny Craig Pavilion on the campus of the University of San Diego. Kansas won the first and second round matches at home in Horejsi Family Athletics Center, defeating Furman in the first round and No. 25 Missouri in the second round. The Jayhawks were 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.
KANSAS IN THE NCAAs: Kansas improved to 9-6 in its seventh overall appearance in the NCAA Championship. Prior to this season, the furthest the Jayhawks have.
AGAINST THE NCAA FIELD: Kansas holds a 12-2 record against teams in the NCAA Tournament.
30 WINS: Kansas has reached 30 wins for the first time in the modern scheduling format. Kansas holds a program-record .938 winning percentage (30-2) and earlier this season became the fastest team to reach 20 wins (21 matches). KU reached 30 wins in the first four seasons of the program’s existence, when there were more than 50 matches played per season during that era: 1975 (30-19-2), 1976 (35-15), 1977 (35-23-4), and 1978 (31-24-2).
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: Kansas is holding opponents to a .116 hitting percentage during postseason play. KU also holds a 41.0 to 28.0 advantage in total blocks.
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.
Notes Link Kansas Notes