LAWRENCE, Kan. – Picking up steam with each stop, the Kansas volleyball team is on a mission for its first 10-match win streak in 12 years when the Jayhawks play host to the Oklahoma Sooners inside the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
AROUND THE GYM
- Jayhawks for a Cure: Fans wearing pink will receive $3 admission. All donations from Wednesday’s match will benefit the Lawrence Memorial Hospital and KU Cancer Center.
- Family Night: Two adult GA, two youth GA, four drinks, two medium popcorn: $30
- Faculty Free Midweek Match: All KU faculty/staff/state employees free with valid ID
- Celebrate Special Olympics: Douglas County Special Olympics will compete between sets two and three
vs. Oklahoma (OU leads, 45-31): Oklahoma had a firm grip on the series, which dates back to 1975, in recent years. The Sooners had won four of the teams’ last five meetings – until last year. The Jayhawks swept the season series for the first time since 2005, including a come-from-behind victory in Norman. KU defeated Oklahoma in three sets in the most recent match of the series, which gave KU the 16-15 edge in matches played 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. Subscriptions are available in daily ($2.95), monthly ($6.95) and yearly ($49.95) increments. Aaron Berlin will have the call.
For those that can't make it to the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, Kansas vs. Oklahoma will air on Time Warner Cable Metro Sports and ESPN3.com. Fans can access the TV stream by going to ESPN3.com or visiting KUAthletics.com/ESPN. Leif Lisec and former Kansas volleyball player Jill Dorsey-Hall will provide the analysis. For more information on accessing Kansas video content, visit KUAthletics.com/TV. Fans can also monitor the action on Live Stats or by following @KUVolleyball on Twitter.
· The NCAA released the first RPI projections of the season and the Jayhawks debuted at No. 14. In 2012, KU earned its highest RPI ranking in program history (No. 6), and came in No. 9 in the final RPI projection.
· Kansas enters the week on a nine-match win streak, tying the program’s fourth-longest all-time winning span. The Jayhawks now have a chance at their first double-digit win streak since 2001 (10).
· Junior outside hitter Sara McClinton (Offensive) and freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie (Defensive) became KU’s seventh and eighth Big 12 Players of the Week of the season – a new program record. At least one Jayhawk has won a conference award in the last five-straight weeks.
· KU is the only team in the Big 12 with three players in the top-10 in attack percentage: Tayler Soucie (.317, 6th), Chelsea Albers (.316, 7th) and Caroline Jarmoc (.307, 10th).
· The Jayhawks also boast two players in the top-three in blocks per set: Tayler Soucie (1.40, 1st) and Caroline Jarmoc (1.32, 3rd). The blocking duo ranks 14th and 31st in the NCAA, respectively.
· KU is receiving votes (42) for the second-straight week in the latest AVCA Top-25 Coaches Poll (10/7). Six teams separate KU from the top-25, including Oklahoma (79 votes).
· Senior setter Erin McNorton leads the Big 12 in assists for the fifth-straight week. She also reached a career-best in national ranking as her 12.26 assists per set ranks third nationally.
· On paper, Kansas certainly looks like the team to beat, leading the Big 12 in blocks (2.85, 8th NCAA), kills (14.44, 17th NCAA), assists (13.48, 17th NCAA) and attack percentage (.266, 28th NCAA).
The NCAA placed Kansas at No. 14 in its first RPI release of the season. Based on the initial projections, Kansas is 5-2 against top-50 and 10-3 against top-100 RPI teams. Aside from Texas Tech (No. 224), the Jayhawks face only two teams this year in the bottom half of the RPI, and will play teams in the RPI’s top-30 11 times.
WIN STREAKS MEAN AWARD STREAKS
Prior to Oct. 7, only three Big 12 Conference teams had earned the league’s Offensive Player of the Week nod in three-consecutive weeks. Kansas joined the list on Monday as junior outside hitter Sara McClinton received the honor along with teammate freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie, who was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week. Kansas’ three-straight weeks of offensive awards is only the eighth occurrence in Big 12 history. Texas has gone three-straight in the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week category five times, while Kansas State and Oklahoma have each achieved the feat once.
Heading into Wednesday’s matchup, junior outside hitter Sara McClinton needs just one kill to reach 800 for her career. Only one Jayhawk – KU all-time kills leader Josi Lima (1,483) – reached the 800 mark faster. That is, if McClinton can record a kill in the first three sets. Former Kansas volleyball star Karina Garlington also reached her 800th career kill in her 79th match played. Garlington, however, didn’t tip the 800-mark until the fourth set of career match No. 79. Meaning, McClinton could become the second-fastest Jayhawk to 800 by a mere matter of sets.
BEST OF THE BEST
Wednesday’s match will feature the top-three blockers in the Big 12 Conference with KU’s Tayler Soucie and Caroline Jarmoc opposite OU’s Sallie McLaurin. Soucie leads the league with 1.40 blocks per set, McLaurin is second (1.33), while Jarmoc is a close third (1.32). What’s more, Kansas is the only team in the league with three players on the Big 12’s top-10 blocking list as junior outside hitter Chelsea Albers ranks 10th (1.04).
The Jayhawks for a Cure match has treated the Jayhawks well as of late. Not only does the match support a great cause, the Jayhawks have also won four of their last five “pink” matches – including a win over top-10 Iowa State (10/9/10).
WE’RE GOING STREAKING
KU’s win at Baylor (10/5) marked the ninth-straight victory for the Jayhawks, tying them with the nine-game stretch KU put together last year. That 2012 streak tied the fourth-longest in school history. Here’s what the Jayhawks are looking at if they can keep it going:
Win Streak Year
9 2000, 2012, 2013
8 1990, 2002, 2004
The first All-American in Kansas volleyball history, redshirt senior Caroline Jarmoc, eclipsed another Jayhawk milestone achievement in KU’s last time out at Baylor (10/5). The Calgary, Alberta, Canada native tallied six kills, giving her 203 on the season. Jarmoc is now just the fifth player in program history to record 200 or more kills in four-consecutive seasons. She joined KU volleyball alums Emily Brown (2004-07), Josi Lima (2002-05), Mary Beth Albrecht (1996-99) and Judy Desch (1984-87) on the historic list.
Kansas swept the season series against Oklahoma in 2012, an achievement last reached during the 2005 season, but the matches were anything but easy wins. Ranked No. 21 and on the road in Norman, KU found itself trailing 2-1. An incredible comeback, including 18 kills from Catherine Carmichael brought the Jayhawks all the way back to a five-set win. Libero Brianne Riley recorded a Big 12-record 43 digs in the match. Though the Jayhawks won in three in the Lawrence meeting, four different Jayhawks chalked up double-digit kills, this time led by 16 from Caroline Jarmoc.
Although the Jayhawks rank first in four of the Big 12’s primary statistical categories, service aces is not one of them. In fact, KU ranks last in the league in aces per set – the good news? The Jayhawks allow just 0.74 aces per set, which ranks first in the league.
SET ‘EM UP
Since September 20, the Jayhawks have lost only two sets – going 18-2 in the sets column during that span. The second-set loss at Baylor (10/5) was hardly surprising as the two squads have not played a three-set match since Sept. 26, 2009.
HOW MAY SHE ASSIST YOU?
Senior setter Erin McNorton not only leads all Big 12 setters with 760 assists, she also leads four Big 12 teams. McNorton’s massive assist count on her own is more than Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas and Kansas State have each accumulated as a team – and only one shy of tying Oklahoma. Her 2,332 career assists rank sixth all-time at KU, despite the fact that she will start just her 50th match on Wednesday.
SCOUTING RV OKLAHOMA (14-3 Overall, 2-1 Big 12)
Led by Santiago Restrepo in his 10th season as head coach, Oklahoma was voted to finish fifth in the Big 12 Preseason Poll and currently sits at fourth. The Sooners posted a strong non-conference showing, picking up wins over Arkansas, No. 25 BYU and Tulsa. Oklahoma became a sweep victim of defending national champion Texas on Sept. 28, but followed that with a tough five-set win against No. 25 Iowa State in its last time out.
Senior middle blocker Sallie McLaurin, has the Big 12 hitting percentage leaderboard on lockdown. The two-time All-American leads the league by nearly 100 percentage points at .450 and also paces her fellow conference attackers with 231 kills. Her 84 total blocks are a Big 12 best, but she ranks second in blocks per set to KU’s Tayler Soucie at 1.33. McLaurin is only one of many scoring options for the Sooners. Sophomore middle Kierra Holst also averages more than three kills per set, while veteran senior outside hitter Keila Rodriguez does it all. She averages 2.22 kills per set and is second only to libero Taylor Migliazzo with her 3.35 digs per set.
As a unit, Oklahoma is hitting for a .254 accuracy on 12.08 assists per set. The Sooners are digging up 16.71 balls per frame, good for the top spot in the Big 12.
HEAD COACH RAY BECHARD
“They’ve got one of the really good leaders in our league in [head coach] Santiago [Restrepo]. Their brand is ‘we’re going to battle you.’ Some of his teams are extremely talented - this one certainly is. Even when they weren’t, they play so hard. That’s a really admirable quality and I know our kids see that. We’re going to have to play at that same level. There are going to be a lot of points that are up in the air, conversion points we call them, which someone is going to have to make a play on. Maybe back-to-back plays where it’s a dig and a good attack to have success in a match like that. He’s got them off to another great start, it should be a great Big 12 volleyball match.”
On the top three blockers in the Big 12 facing off:
“[Sallie] McLaurin’s having a Player of the Year-type year. I think she leads or is near the top in efficiency, blocks and kills. She’s just a dynamite player, and he’s put enough good players around her. The setter connection with her is really at a high level. There will be some quality middle blockers running around in the match, for sure.”
On the potential of extending the win streak to double digits:
“I think we want to win another Big 12 match. Our goal is ‘where can we end up, what’s our finish going to look like?’ We can manage that and influence that by going one match at a time. The number (of wins) in a row, I think we all lose track of that because we’re focused on what’s next. With Oklahoma, it’s a top-tier team and obviously you want to finish ahead of a team like Oklahoma, so you’ve got to figure out a way to beat them on your home court.”
On the brutal week ahead:
“It’s one at a time. You would think that at our place we could create some opportunity, but it still comes down to executing in that little rectangle they put out there and playing at a high level. It should be a great week of volleyball and we know we’ve got a quality opponent later in the week [Texas], but we’ve also got a really good opponent staring at us right now on Wednesday. That’s where all of our focus will be.”
On the importance of the ‘Jayhawks for a Cure’ match:
“I think we always challenge our team to give great effort, but in this match, think about what a dig means and how some of those cancer survivors - or some of those that don’t survive – how hard they fight and what a joy it is to play a sport and have the opportunity to be healthy and compete and do the things that we do. It is really a blessing for sure.”
Kansas stays home to host the defending national champion and third-ranked Texas on Saturday, Oct. 12. First serve is set for 6:30 p.m.