Big 12 Unbeatens to Square Off in Texas
Oct. 11, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. - A comeback, five-set win at Oklahoma on Wednesday set the stage for a battle between the two remaining undefeated teams in Big 12 Conference play, when the 21st-ranked Kansas volleyball team meets No. 9 Texas inside the Gregory Gymnasium, Friday at 7:30 p.m.
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AT A GLANCE
-KU continued its historical run through conference play with a win at Oklahoma on Wednesday, tallying a 5-0 record for the first time in either league's (Big 12 or Big Eight) history.
-Kansas moved up to No. 21 on the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I Coaches Poll, on Oct. 8, tying the highest ranking ever for the Jayhawks (9/20/04). For the second-straight week, four Big 12 members hold spots in the nation's top-25: No. 9 Texas, No. 14 Kansas State, No. 21 Kansas, No. 23 Iowa State, while Oklahoma is receiving votes.
-The Jayhawks moved to No. 14 on the NCAA RPI projections this week. Kansas debuted at No. 9 on the first NCAA RPI release of the season (Oct. 1) - the highest RPI mark in program history. In 2012, Kansas is 4-2 against top-50 RPI teams and 9-2 against the top-100 with the Jayhawks' only losses coming at Arkansas (No. 20) and at Notre Dame (No. 34).
-If the season ended today, Kansas would tie another program record as only one other Jayhawk offense has accumulated a .246 team attack percentage in a single season (2003). Additionally, KU's 16.21 digs per set would check in as the best since the 2001 campaign (16.25).
-KU is 4-0 this season against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the AVCA Division I Coaches Poll (RV Tulsa, RV Creighton, No. 19 Iowa State, RV Oklahoma).
-After a career-high 43 digs at Oklahoma, junior libero Brianne Riley needs just six digs (394) to become the only Jayhawk in history to reach the 400-dig mark three times.
-In the latest NCAA national statistics (Oct. 8), junior setter Erin McNorton ranks seventh in the country in assists per set (11.90), Jarmoc checks in at 15th in attack percentage (.396), while junior libero Brianne Riley is 33rd in the NCAA in digs per set (5.47) - all three have led the Big 12 in their respective categories since Aug. 28.
-For the first time this season, Kansas dipped to second in the Big 12 in assists per set (13.39), as Kansas State took the lead (13.44, 17th NCAA). As a unit, KU continues to lead the Big 12 in kills (14.26 per set, 24th NCAA) and digs (16.21, 80th NCAA).
NO. 21 KANSAS (17-2, 5-0 Big 12)
Each of those wins, however, were far from perfect. Against Oklahoma, the Sooners doubled-up against a middle blocking crew that powers the Kansas offense, yet the Jayhawks found alternate sources. One being eight kills in the final 20 points of the match during a career-high night for redshirt junior Catherine Carmichael. KU hit a season-low -.021 in the third set en route to its largest margin of defeat in 2012 (13-25), but responded with a fourth-set victory to force a game five. An 8-1 lead to start the fifth set stole the remaining momentum on OU's home floor and depicted the reasons that the second-place Jayhawks the Longhorns welcomed last year are not the same crew traveling to Austin in 2012.
Carmichael has led the Jayhawks in kills two of the last three matches, averaging a team-best 3.36 kills per set during that span. Meanwhile, redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc is holding strong atop the Big 12 with her .396 attack percentage. The Calgary, Alberta, Canada native leads the team with 3.67 kills and 1.28 blocks per set. Sophomore outside hitter Sara McClinton is right behind her with a 3.27 kills per set mark, putting both in the league's top-10.
Additionally, Jarmoc and senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree are the only duo in the league to land in the conference's top-10 in both attack percentage and blocks per set.
Friday's match will pair the Big 12's top setter in assists per set, KU junior Erin McNorton (11.90) against Texas junior Hannah Allison, who checks in at ninth with 8.47 assists per set. Kansas will look to offset the nation's best blocking team with its own Big 12-best 16.21 digs per set average, led by junior libero Brianne Riley. Riley leads the league with 5.47 digs per set, including a career-high 43 in the Jayhawks' win at Oklahoma.
NO. 9 TEXAS (14-3, 6-0 Big 12)
A true perennial power, Texas lost only one starter to graduation in All-American middle blocker Rachael Adams. Without missing a beat, Elliott brought in PrepVolleyball.com's No. 1 recruit in Molly McCage. The freshman middle blocker was named the 2012 Preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year. This fall, she leads the starters with a .386 attack percentage and is second on the team with 1.17 blocks per set.
McCage is only one member of a highly-acclaimed roster. Junior outside hitter Bailey Webster, the 2011 Big 12 Player of the Year and this season's Preseason Player of the year, is on the hunt for another All-America season as she averages 3.55 kills per set - second only to Haley Eckerman's 4.61 average. Eckerman earned AVCA and Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors in 2011.
At the net, the Longhorns bring the country's best 3.14 blocks per set numbers into Friday's match. Sophomore middle blocker Khat Bell returned to the court in 2012 after suffering a season-ending injury playing at Kansas last season and leads the team with 1.30 blocks per set. McCage and senior Sha'Dare McNeal also post more than a block per frame. In the back row, the Longhorn defenders get 14.81 digs up per set.
Just one of two teams in the league out-hitting the Jayhawks, Texas hits for a .285 attack percentage. Coincidentally, KU is one of two teams in the conference recording more than UT's 13.74 kills per set.
HEAD COACH Ray Bechard
On preparing for a top-10 team during a one-day turnaround:
On the Jayhawks' success in the five-set matches:
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