No. 20 Kansas Heads South To Face Baylor

By: KU, posted by Kinch O'Kelley
By: KU, posted by Kinch O'Kelley

LAWRENCE, Kan. – After taking the first match of the season series, the 20th-ranked Kansas volleyball team will look to sweep Baylor for the first time since the 2003 season when the Jayhawks and Bears square off Saturday at 7 p.m. inside the Ferrell Center.

FOLLOW THE HAWKS
KU at Baylor will broadcast live on Baylor All-Access for a subscription fee, or fans can tune in for a live audio stream free of charge on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access. Kyle West will have the call. Fans can always follow the Jayhawks on GameTracker or by following @JayhawkVball on Twitter.

SERIES HISTORY
Baylor holds the all-time advantage 21-15 in a series that dates back to 1985. In recent years, the matchup has been very tightly contested with the teams splitting the series in seven of the last eight seasons. KU won the first meeting of 2012 at home, 3-2, and is looking for its first series sweep of the Bears since 2003. They Jayhawks are 11-7 at home against BU, 3-13 in Waco and 1-1 on a neutral floor.

AT A GLANCE
-KU’s last 20-win season came in 2003, the year of the Jayhawks’ first NCAA Tournament appearance. Kansas needs just three more wins to break the program’s best win total in the Big 12 era (22, 2003).

-At 13-0, Kansas is the only team in the Big 12 undefeated at home in 2012. By defeating West Virginia on Monday, the Jayhawks tied the program record for most home wins in a season (1978, 1991).

-In their last time out, senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree became the first Jayhawk – and third Big 12 player – to hit 1.000 (10K-0E-10TA) for a match.

-Against the Mountaineers, Kansas hit for a .418 attack percentage as a team, marking its best team efficiency effort since hitting .423 at Texas Tech on Oct. 30, 2010.

-KU is in the top-20 for the second-straight week on the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I Coaches. Four Big 12 members hold spots in the nation's top-25: No. 7 Texas, No. 16 Kansas State, No. 20 Kansas and No. 21 Iowa State.

-The Jayhawks are at No. 10 on the NCAA RPI projections this week, putting KU in the RPI’s top-10 three of five weekly projections. In 2012, Kansas is 5-4 against top-50 RPI teams and 12-4 against the top-100 with the Jayhawks' only losses coming at Arkansas (No. 23), at Notre Dame (No. 34), at Texas (No. 4) and at Iowa State (No. 28).

-Kansas (20-4, .833) is on pace to break program record for winning percentage. The 1986 team currently holds KU’s best (26-9, .743).

-If the season ended today, redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc would break KU's career (.326) and single-season attack percentage (.394) records. Fellow junior Brianne Riley would break the single-season digs per set record, as well (5.18).

-For the first time in 2012, Riley (5.18) is not the Big 12’s digs per set leader, dropping barely below ISU’s Kristen Hahn (5.19). Junior setter Erin McNorton continues to lead the league in assists per set (11.92, 6th NCAA) Jarmoc (.396, 18th NCAA) sits atop the Big 12 in attack percentage. She’s led all but four days this season.

NO. 20 KANSAS (20-4, 8-2 Big 12)
In his 15th season at the helm of the Kansas volleyball program, Ray Bechard just crossed a milestone his teams have reached just once before when the Jayhawks collected coveted win No. 20 on Monday night. With seven regular-season matches remaining, three more wins would set a new win record for the long-time coach.

In their last outing, KU shook off a night of sporadic efficiency in a loss at Iowa State and came back with 41 kills and only eight errors to sweep West Virginia and accumulate its best attack percentage in two years (.418). Back on a winning track, the Jayhawks will now face a Baylor squad that fought off an 0-2 deficit in Lawrence and rallied to force a fifth set before the Jayhawks shut the door for a 3-2 win. At home, the Bears are 7-2 this season and have won four of the last five meetings against the Jayhawks in Waco.

KU’s .418 mark is the fourth-best in the Big 12 this year, while the Jayhawks are third in the league overall in hitting percentage (.242, 55th NCAA). The Jayhawks rank first in kills per set (14.28, 23rd NCAA) and assists (13.38, 19th NCAA), and are second in blocks (2.74, 22nd NCAA) and digs (15.88, T-89th). KU averages two kills per set more than its opponents and nearly a full block per frame more than its counterparts.

Redshirt middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc (3.59) and sophomore outside hitter Sara McClinton (3.32) join the powerhouse combo from Texas in Haley Eckerman and Bailey Webster as the only duos in the Big 12 to average more than three kills per set. Additionally, Jarmoc leads the KU defense with 1.38 blocks per set and the conference in attack percentage (.394).

Behind them, junior libero Brianne Riley’s 466 digs in 2012 rank fifth all-time in a single-season at Kansas. With seven regular-season matches remaining she needs just 107 digs to break KU’s all-time digs record (1,457) as a junior and 84 more to clip the single season record (549).

In conference play, Jarmoc (3.20), McClinton (3.13) and redshirt junior outside hitter Catherine Carmichael (3.08) rank fifth, sixth and eighth in the Big 12, respectively, in kills per set. No other league school has three players in the top-10.

BAYLOR (16-9, 3-7 Big 12)
Led by ninth-year head coach Jim Barnes, Baylor was voted to finish fifth in the Big 12 Preseason poll. The Bears sprinted out to a 13-1 record, sweeping No. 25 California in the process while falling only to No. 6 Hawaii. In conference play, the Bears have taken victories from Texas Tech, TCU and West Virginia. The only five-set match BU has played in the Big 12 was at Kansas on Oct. 6.

A NCAA Tournament team in 2011, Baylor lost middle blocker Brianna Tolbert from last year's team but returns several experienced players to construct a team built of veterans and rookies in 2012.

Senior right side Alyssa Dibbern leads the team with 2.96 kills per set, while freshman outside hitter Laura Jones and senior Torri Campbell are right behind her with a 2.32 kps average. Sophomore middle hitter Adri Nora leads the team in attack percentage at .298, Senior setter Kate Harris is back to direct the offense, averaging 10.43 assists per set and rookie Mackenzie Mayo is the starting libero with 2.89 digs per set.

As a team, BU is hitting for a .210 attack percentage with 12.85 kills per set. Defensively, the Bears dig at a 14.67 per set rate and block at a 2.37 average.

HEAD COACH RAY BECHARD
On facing Baylor the second time around:
“I think they had a great pre-conference with some good wins against Cal, San Francisco and some other teams. It appears that they’ve been right on the edge of some wins inside the Big 12, too. They’re playing teams extremely tough with great balance, they’ve got good offense on the right side, good middle and a good left side. They’ve got an experienced setter, too. Their record in the Big 12 to this point isn’t a reflection of the type of team they are, there are just a lot of good teams in this league. We know how that is. Coach Barnes does an outstanding job week-to-week to get them ready. It will be a very difficult match for us to go into Waco and beat a very good team.”

On the Bears rallying from an 0-2 deficit in the first meeting to force a fifth set:
“When you’re down 0-2 on the road and force it to a fifth set, there’s no quit in that team. They are a very competitive bunch and they know they can play at a high level. I feel like we have some of the same qualities on our team. It will be the typical Big 12, knock-down, drag-out like we’ve seen. Obviously, they have our full attention. It’s a very important match for us and we’re looking forward to the opportunity.”

On getting big production out of the middles to help in RS Jr. OH Catherine Carmichael’s absence against West Virginia:
“You have to be able to survive and still flourish with or without the whole roster being healthy all the time. Everybody goes through it and we’re not immune to that. One of the things I like about our team is that we have some interchangeable parts and a little bit of depth and we showed that on Monday. Hopefully, that will continue. This time of year, not everyone’s at full strength and others have to step up. That creates opportunities for your team.”

On Tayler Tolefree’s accomplishment of hitting 1.000 in her last time out:
“Tayler commits to certain behaviors every practice. She is extremely coachable, a little hard on herself sometimes, but takes information and tries to apply that. She is as open to coaching as anyone you’ll ever see. Even though it’s her senior year late in her career, she will still continue to get better because she always comes with that mindset. That’s a pretty rare feat, but it’s not overly surprising that a kid like Tolefree would pull that off. She’s going to figure out how to get better each and every time out.”

UP NEXT
No. 20 Kansas stays on the road for a highly-anticipated matchup against rival Kansas State, Wednesday, Nov. 7. The second installment of the Sunflower Showdown is set for 7 p.m. in Manhattan, Kan.


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