LAWRENCE, Kan. - Nationally-seeded Kansas hosted the NCAA Practice Day for the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Thursday inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas, Cleveland State, Wichita State and Arkansas each held open practices on the designated day, with opportunities for fans and media to come watch the teams prepare for the upcoming matches.
Seeded 11th overall, Kansas (25-6) will face Cleveland State (23-6) in the first round, preceded by Arkansas (22-9) vs. Wichita State (22-9). Winners from the first round will advance to the second round match scheduled for Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The weekend's winner will advance to the Austin, Texas Regional, Dec. 7-8.
NCAA First & Second Round Schedule (Lawrence, Kan.)
Match 1: Friday, Nov. 30, 4 p.m.: (3) Wichita State vs. (2) Arkansas
Match 2: Friday, Nov. 30, 6:30 p.m.: (4) Cleveland State vs. (1) Kansas
Match 3: Saturday, Dec. 1, 6:30 p.m.: Match 1 Winner vs. Match 2 Winner
FOLLOW THE TOURNAMENT
Each of the Lawrence, Kan., first and second round matches will web stream live on NCAA.com free of charge. Access the stream by clicking the links on the tournament central page at KUAthletics.com or by clicking the links on the volleyball schedule. Updates can also be found by following @JayhawkVball on Twitter.
HEAD COACH RAY BECHARD
On how he feels going into Friday's first-round match:
"It's been a long week, but I felt really good about the practice today. The team's enthused, they see the match on the horizon. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday feels like `is it ever going to get here, but they felt a lot of pride when they walked out onto the floor today and saw the NCAA Tournament banners up and I think they're enthused, excited and ready to go."
On the importance of the home court advantage:
"It's very important. It's huge in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center and it's going to be huge here (Allen Fieldhouse), too. We had an opportunity to play here last week, in front of a good crowd, and get that first-time run out of our system. We're thrilled to be on campus, hosting for the first time in school history. The Fieldhouse, I'm sure, will get its own special buzz going once we get in there and get some good volleyball going."
On staying focused through the pressures of success and the NCAA Tournament
"We kept it pretty light today. This group will allow me to do that if I allow them to do that, certainly. We sensed it a little bit on Tuesday and Wednesday - maybe not anxiety - but more like `is it going to get here? How are we going to play?' This group has handled everything we've thrown at them, whether it be this spring, during two-a-days, some tough opportunities on road and they're pretty resilient. They'll show up with a good effort tomorrow night."
JUNIOR SETTER ERIN MCNORTON
On finding something to do without a usual Wednesday match this week:
"We all went to the women's basketball game, but then after we were sitting at home like `hmm what now?' So we're ready. We're really excited to get going."
On the team's mindset going into the first round:
"Mostly, coach (Bechard) has been saying that it's just another game so it doesn't get into our heads too much. Obviously, we know it is important. We have to focus on Cleveland State and see what happens from there."
REDSHIRT JUNIOR MIDDLE BLOCKER CAROLINE JARMOC
On this being a long week:
"Honestly, I feel like it's gone by pretty quickly. It feels like the Selection Show was just yesterday. Friday is a huge thing, but you have to take one day at a time and it's just kind of flown by this week."
On being back in the NCAA Tournament and that being a goal for this team:
"Definitely. Our goal this year was to get to the tournament and as the season progressed, we knew we were going to make the tournament so our goal changed to lets go as far as we can in the tournament. I don't want to say this is a surprise, because we've definitely put in the work to get where we are right now."
On the advantage of playing at home:
"It's huge. I love playing in front of KU fans and Lawrence fans so I'm super excited. I'm excited to see how packed the Fieldhouse is going to get."