NCAA Tournament: Kansas Prepares for Cleveland State
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The No. 11 overall seeded Kansas volleyball team will welcome the Vikings of Cleveland State to Allen Fieldhouse for the first round of the NCAA volleyball tournament, Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Wichita State and Arkansas will join the Jayhawks and Vikings in Lawrence for the first and second rounds as they face off in the first match of the tournament. 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.
Kansas is 1-0 all-time against Cleveland State. In teams’ only meeting, KU defeated the Vikings, 3-1, on a neutral court at the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic in the 2008 season.
KANSAS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
The Jayhawks are making their fourth all-time NCAA Tournament appearance, all under 15-year head coach Ray Bechard. Kansas is 2-3 all-time in the postseason and making its first appearance since earning three-straight bids from 2003-05.
2003 (1-1): In its first 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.
AT A GLANCE
-Fifteen-year Kansas head coach Ray Bechard was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year on Nov. 26, the first coaching honor at Kansas in the Big 12 or Big Eight eras. Senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree earned the league's inaugural Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. Redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc and sophomore outside hitter Sara McClinton each earned All-Big 12 First Team honors, while junior setter Erin McNorton and junior libero Brianne Riley were named to the league's honorable mention squad. Outside hitter Tiana Dockery was named to the Big 12's All-Freshman Team.
-Kansas played 15 matches against 11 teams included in this season’s NCAA Tournament field, going 10-5 in those matches.
-Kansas finished the 2012 regular season 25-6 overall and 12-4 in the Big 12, marking the first time a Kansas squad has won 25 matches since the 1991 season – and the Jayhawks would do so in only 31 matches rather than 35 like the 1991 team.
-KU finished third in the Big 12 standings, its highest finish in conference history. The Jayhawks’ 12 league wins are the second-most in the Big 12 era (13-7, 2003).
-At 25-6, KU broke a 26-year old program record for best winning percentage in a season at Kansas (.806). The 1986 team previously held the record (26-9, .743).
-The Jayhawks completed the regular season at No. 7 in the RPI, which was released on Selection Sunday (Nov. 25). During the regular season, KU was in the RPI’s top-10 seven of nine weekly projections. In 2012, Kansas is 10-5 against top-50 RPI teams and 16-6 against the top-100.
-KU ranks No. 20 on the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I Coaches poll (Nov. 19). Four Big 12 members hold spots in the nation’s top-25: No. 3 Texas, No. 18 Iowa State, No. 20 Kansas and No. 25 Kansas State. KU has been in the top-25 for eight-straight weeks with the final poll set to be released on Dec. 18. KU is 6-3 this season against teams in the top-25 or receiving votes.
KANSAS (25-6, 12-4 Big 12)
Aside from earning the Big 12 Coach of the Year, Scholar-Athlete of the Year and five more All-Conference awards – the most by any Jayhawk team – Kansas was happy for another reason. For the first time in seven years, KU spent the Monday after the regular season at practice. Bechard and several of his players remarked it might have been the best Monday practice they’d ever experienced.
For good reason - armed with a No. 11 overall seed and hosting the NCAA’s first and second rounds for the first time in school history, Kansas is in the position it has worked for all season. The Jayhawks finished the league in third-place, a school record. KU wrapped up the regular season leading the league in opponent hitting percentage (.159, 1st), while finishing in the top-three in assists per set (13.24, 2nd), kills per set (14.20, 2nd), digs per set (16.08, 2nd) and blocks per set (2.62, 3rd).
The long list of postseason accolades helps explain the Jayhawks’ success as several players on the roster have excelled consistently. KU and Texas are the only teams in the Big 12 with two players averaging more than three kills per set in All-Conference First Team members Caroline Jarmoc and Sara McClinton. Additionally, Jarmoc and senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree were the only duo to rank in the top-10 in attack percentage and blocks all season.
Currently in consideration for Academic All-America honors, Jarmoc broke the single-season attack percentage at Kansas and led the Big 12 with a .396 mark in 2012. Fellow junior Brianne Riley joined her on the record-breaking list with 574 single-season digs for a 5.17 digs per set average – both of which broke KU records. In the last match of the regular season, Riley broke the Kansas career digs mark – in only three years (1,459).
CLEVELAND STATE (23-6, 13-1 Horizon League)
The Vikings finished the season 23-6 overall with a 13-1 record in the Horizon League to claim the regular season conference title. CSU went on to lock up its bid by winning the Horizon League Championship last Sunday over UIC, sending the Vikings to Lawrence riding a 13-match win streak. CSU hasn’t lost since Sept. 28 and the loss before that came at the hands of Big 12 foe West Virginia in a five-set battle.
Led by 13-year head coach Chuck Voss, Cleveland State is making its second trip to the NCAA Tournament and its first appearance since the 2007 season. The Vikings are looking for their first win in the NCAA Tournament.
Two-time All-Horizon League First Team honoree, senior outside hitter Kara Koch, leads the offense with remarkable numbers as she heads to Lawrence with 490 kills and a 4.71 kills per set average – both stats check in as more than any player in the Big 12. Koch is also second on the team with 3.31 digs per set. Fellow senior Marie Frease sets the tone from the middle with a team-best .348 attack percentage and 0.97 blocks per set.
Freshman Dayna Roberts and junior Annie Djukic share the setting duties, averaging 6.65 and 6.07 assists per set, respectively. In the back row, senior libero Amanda Medvetz leads a solid line of defense with 4.62 digs per set. As a unit, CSU’s defenders dig at a 17.90 per set rate – more than any team in the Big 12.
The Vikings have more than 1,500 kills on the season, which averages out to 14.58 per set using a .263 team attack percentage.
HEAD COACH RAY BECHARD
On facing Cleveland State for the first time since 2008:
“They’re on a great run, winning 13 in a row. I know that it’s very hard to dominate your league and then dominate your league tournament and they’ve done both of those things. They’ve got some outstanding personnel, they’re a veteran team so I think anytime you see a school that would be considered a mid-major school go on a run like this, it’s because they are well coached and they have really good players who can play at any level. Their head coach has had experience in our conference before and he does an outstanding job. I’m sure they are as excited as all get out to be a part of the NCAA tournament. I know they will represent their league and university very well.”
On his team’s mindset going into the week:
“I don’t think we have enjoyed a Monday practice as much as we enjoyed this week’s. There are only 64 teams gathering to practice on that Monday. I heard a couple comments about it being more fun than a Monday practice should be. They are enthused. There is a lot of excitement obviously that we are still able to get together and practice. We know there is a lot of work that lies ahead of us. We have our work cut out for us Friday and there are two other great teams playing on Friday as well. It’s a really, really competitive group of teams that all want the same thing.”
On being named Big 12 Coach of the Year:
“We’ve had individuals get honored all year and we just never made a big deal of it because we know it’s all based on team performance. You have to have some outstanding individuals to create a really good team season. It’s part of the process when a program has a good year. I couldn’t be happier or more proud to be the head coach at the University of Kansas. I’ve felt that way for 15 years and it’s no different this year. Obviously, the type of year we’re having, not only makes our program proud, but also a lot of Jayhawk fans proud, so to be a part of that is pretty special. In some small way I feel like I am doing my part as is everybody else. So, if we all keep working together, maybe we can have some good things continue to happen.”
The winner of Kansas-Cleveland State first round match will go on to face the winner from the Arkansas-Wichita State match on Saturday at 6:30 p.m., to decide who will move on the NCAA Austin Regional, Dec. 7-8.