Kansas Prepares for Big Weekend at Notre Dame
Sept. 12, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. - With Big 12 play in sight, two-straight tournament championships in tow and a coaching milestone on the horizon, the Kansas volleyball team will head to the prestigious Notre Dame campus to cap off its pre-conference tournament schedule at the Golden Dome Invitational, Sept. 14-16.
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Xavier marks KU's most recent opponent as the Jayhawks topped the Musketeers, 3-1, during the 2009 season to tie the all-time series at a match apiece. Kansas and Notre Dame's first - and only - meeting occurred on Sept. 19, 1986 in which KU won a back-and-forth battle, 3-2.
AT A GLANCE
-Aside from tying the 2002 team, a 3-0 record would also hand Bechard his 950th career victory. Bechard is 231-203 in 15 seasons at Kansas and 947-263 overall.
-The first NCAA statistics were released on Monday. Junior setter Erin McNorton ranks second in the nation in assists per set (12.50). Redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc is seventh in the NCAA in attack percentage (.468), while junior libero Brianne Riley ranks 11th in the country in digs per set (5.68). All three lead the Big 12 in their respective categories.
-As a team, Kansas leads the Big 12 Conference in hitting percentage (.281), assists (14.12/set), kills (14.97/set) and digs (16.15/set).
KANSAS (9-1, 0-0 Big 12 Conference)
When asked, Bechard remarked that not only did the awards showcase the two honorees, but also credited the level at which his entire team is playing heading into the final pre-conference tournament before league play kicks off on Sept. 22. With individual Jayhawks atop the leaderboard in every major category, it comes as no surprise that Kansas sets the Big 12 standard in hitting percentage, assists, kills and digs. Although the Jayhawks jumped out to an 11-1 mark last season, heading into the fourth week of the 2011 season, KU ranked third in the league with a .258 attack percentage - flash forward to 2012 and Kansas is noticeably more accurate with its Big 12-best .281 mark.
Jarmoc's back-to-back Tournament MVP nods and conference-leading numbers put her on the forefront of the Kansas offense, but the balance needed from the middle and pin players is there. Fellow middle blocker, senior Tayler Tolefree, is fourth in the league with a .368 attack percentage and eighth in blocks (1.21/set). Sophomore outside hitter Sara McClinton is right behind Jarmoc for the team's lead with 3.47 kills per set, good for sixth in the conference.
The efficient offense is a direct reflection of McNorton's work, who has taken off as the starting setter. Marissa Collins of Central Arkansas is the only setter in the country averaging more assists per set than KU's McNorton.
LOYOLA-MARYMOUNT (6-3, 0-0 West Coast Conference) | Friday | 3:30 p.m. CT
Led by third-year head coach Tom Black, the Lions are paced on offense by Georgia transfer and redshirt junior outside hitter Kathleen Luft's 4.31 kills per set. Last year's WCC All-Freshmen Team member Litara Keil backs her up with slightly over three kills per set. As a unit, LMU averages 14.34 kills per set using a .251 hitting percentage.
Defensively, Keil leads the team with 1.03 blocks per set, while the 2011 WCC Defensive Player of the Year, Betsi Metter, leads the back row with 5.47 digs per set.
XAVIER (7-4, 0-0 Atlantic 10 Conference) | Saturday | 9:30 a.m. CT
Led by third-year head coach Mike Johnson, Xavier averages 12.10 kills per set off of a collective .201 hitting percentage. Junior outside hitter and Atlantic 10 First Team member, Sarah Brown, holds the team lead with 3.13 kills per set. Meanwhile, redshirt junior middle blocker and fellow A-10 First Team member, Alex Smith, sets the tone with a .330 hitting percentage in her 11 starts. Senior Stephanie Vorherr, the 2011 A-10 Libero of the Year, holds down the back row with 4.86 digs per set.
NOTRE DAME (5-4, 0-0 Big East Conference) | Sunday | 12 p.m. CT
Former Olympic volleyball player Debbie Brown enters her 22nd season at the helm of the UND program. Her offense averages 13.97 kills per set on a .248 attack percentage. Sophomore right side hitter Toni Alugbue leads the Irish with 4.03 kills per set, while fellow sophomore Jeni Houser holds the team-best .370 hitting percentage.
UND is young on defense as well, with freshman Taylor Morey making all nine starts at libero. The 2010 Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year averages 4.56 digs per set.
HEAD COACH Ray Bechard
On the tournament field:
On the increased toughness of the non-conference schedule:
On his 950th career victory being only three wins away:
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