Stage Set for Second Round of Sunflower Showdown
Nov. 5, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. - In a battle for second place the Big 12 Conference, No. 23 Kansas and No. 17 Kansas State will square off in Manhattan for the rivals' final Sunflower Showdown of the season inside Ahearn Fieldhouse, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
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Always a battle, the Jayhawks and Wildcats have played only two three-set matches in their last 10 meetings - both of which came during KU's 2009 season-series sweep.
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).
-After suffering its worst margin of defeat this season in the first set at Baylor, 25-10, the Jayhawks were able to regroup despite the loss. The next three sets were all determined by the mandatory two points. KU has lost 30 sets this season, 15 of which were by two points. In those 30 sets, the average margin of defeat is 4.1 points.
-At 13-0, Kansas is the only team in the Big 12 undefeated at home in 2012, tying the program record for most home wins in a season (1978, 1991).
-KU has hit under .150 only three times this season. Each time, the Jayhawks have bounced back in a big way (.101 at Texas then .271 vs. Kansas State; .147 at Iowa State then .418 vs. West Virginia). Kansas recorded a .126 attack percentage at Baylor.
-KU moved to No. 23 on the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I Coaches poll. Four Big 12 members hold spots in the nation's top-25: No. 3 Texas, No. 17 Kansas State, No. 20 Iowa State and No. 23 Kansas. KU has been in the top-25 for six-straight weeks.
-The Jayhawks remain at No. 10 on the NCAA RPI projections this week, putting KU in the RPI's top-10 four of six weekly projections. In 2012, Kansas is 6-5 against top-50 RPI teams and 12-5 against the top-100. Kansas State improved from No. 12 to No. 11 this week.
-Kansas (20-5, .800) is on pace to break the 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 (.327) and single-season attack percentage (.393) records. Fellow junior Brianne Riley would break the single-season digs per set record as well (5.17).
-Kansas ranks second in the Big 12 in kills (14.18), blocks (2.69), digs (15.97) per set and is tied with Kansas State for second in the league in assists per set (13.31). KU is holding teams to a Big 12-best .160 attack percentage.
NO. 23 KANSAS (20-5, 8-3 Big 12)
In last week's matches against West Virginia and Baylor, Kansas relied heavily on the strength of its middles to shoulder the offensive load. Senior Tayler Tolefree and redshirt junior Caroline Jarmoc have ranked in the league's top-10 in both hitting percentage and blocks per set all season long, but in the last two matches the duo has been asked to provide the majority of the scoring. They recorded 46 of KU's 89 kills (52 percent) and only five of the team's 36 errors (14 percent).
The last time KU played KSU, the outside hitters made the difference as the Jayhawks received 19 kills from sophomore Sara McClinton, nine from redshirt junior Catherine Carmichael and seven from sophomore Chelsea Albers.
KU checks in at first or second in the Big 12 in every statistical category outside of service aces and does so with a well-balanced cast of characters. Jarmoc is top-five in hitting percentage (.393, 2nd), kills per set (3.59, 4th), blocks per set (1.35) and points per set (4.60, 3rd). Meanwhile, juniors Erin McNorton and Brianne Riley lead the league in assists (11.90 a/s) and digs (5.17 d/s), respectively.
In conference play, Jarmoc (3.23), McClinton (3.05) and redshirt junior outside hitter Catherine Carmichael (2.90) rank sixth, eighth and ninth in the Big 12, respectively, in kills per set. No other league school has three players in the top-10.
NO. 17 KANSAS STATE (20-4, 7-4 Big 12)
Kansas State has arguably the most veteran squad in the Big 12 as each of the Wildcats' everyday players is a junior or a senior. Like the Jayhawks, KSU has a powerful and effective middle blocking unit. Junior middle blocker and returning AVCA honorable mention All-American, Kaitlynn Pelger, ranks third behind KU's Jarmoc in the Big 12 in attack percentage (.343), but is second in the league in kills per set (3.77) and points per set (4.60). Senior middle blocker Alex Muff is right in front of Jarmoc at third in the Big 12 with 1.39 blocks per set.
Senior setter Caitlyn Donahue leads the squad with 11.84 assists per set, good for second in the Big 12 behind KU's McNorton. Senior libero Kuulei Kabalis checks in with 3.17 digs per set.
As a team, Kansas State records 14.05 kills per set on a .261 attack percentage and is tied with Kansas in assists per set (13.31). The Wildcats are eighth in the Big 12 in digs (14.38).
HEAD COACH Ray Bechard
On the team's ability to bounce back and play three close sets after losing big in the first:
On whether or not the longer break after a Monday match threw the team out of its routine:
On handling the hype of the rivalry and winning the first meeting:
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