Kansas' run in the tournament was put to an end Friday night by the University of Washington. You can read a recap of the match and KU's season here:
The tournament will, however, go on without KU. #3 Washington went on to beat #6 Southern Cal on Saturday night to advance to the Final Four (in Seattle, incidentally). #2 Penn State defeated #7 Stanford in five sets, and will take on Washington.
#1 Texas knocked off #8 Nebraskuh, and will play #12 Wisconsin, who took out this year's Cinderella team, Purdue. Wisconsin has yet to play a top 16 seed in this tournament due to upsets.
The National Semifinals will be played on Thursday night, Dec 19, starting at 6:30 PM CST on ESPN2 and WatchESPN. The National Title game will be on Saturday night, Dec 21, at 8:30, also on ESPN2 and WatchESPN.
Gameday is tomorrow, first serve at 7 PM CST. For more stats and game notes, check out this link:
You can follow the Jayhawks for free using ESPN3 here:
I have not seen anything about free webstreams from NCAA.com or KUAthletics.com. The Jayhawk Digital Passport will be airing the radio call for free. But if you're pulling out your PC, laptop, or tablet, just use the ESPN3 link above.
At 3 PM on Wednesday, Dec 11, there will be a pep rally at the south end of Allen Fieldhouse to show support for the volleyball team as they head to Los Angeles for the regional. I'm sure most of us here have to work, but if there are any KU students around, please go out and support the team for us!
There were a few upsets over the weekend. Remember, only the top 16 teams are seeded. Not all of them made it out of the first two rounds. Seeded teams that did NOT advance were: #16 Duke, #15 Kentucky, #11 Hawaii, #5 Florida, #4 Missouruh. So much for SEC dominance.
The Regionals look like this:
- Lincoln, NE -
#1 Texas vs American
#8 Nebraskuh vs #9 San Diego
Yes, that's a potential Texas vs Nebraskuh matchup looming there.
- Champaign, IL -
Florida State vs #12 Wisconsin
#13 Illinois vs Purdue
Three Big 10 teams in one regional...
- Los Angeles, CA -
#3 Washington vs #14 Kansas
BYU vs #6 Southern Cal
Let's go Jayhawks!
- Lexington, KY -
#7 Stanford vs #10 Minnesota
Michigan State vs #2 Penn State
Three more Big 10 teams...
So apparently the BIg 10 can play some volleyball, as they have seven of the 16 teams in the Sweet 16. The SEC was a bust, as Florida, Kentucky, and Missouruh, all highly ranked throughout the year, failed to make it out of the second round. Missouruh, incidentally, was unbeaten until they met Purdue. I checked it out, and apparently they had Bill Snyder put together their non-conference schedule. Whatever works I guess.
The winners of the Lincoln and Champaign sites will meet in the Final Four in Seattle, ditto the winners of the L.A. and Lexington sites.
What this means for Kansas:
Kansas has a tough matchup in front of them with Washington. The Huskies finished the season with an RPI of #5 and a ranking of #5. However, Washington still claimed the #3 seed in the tournament. They only lost two matches on the year, suffering an upset loss to a not very good Colorado squad 3-1 in early October and dropping a road matchup to Pac-12 runner up and third-ranked Stanford 3-0. (Stanford earned the tournament's #7 seed despite finishing the season ranked third.) If Kansas can get rolling early and take the first set, the Jayhawks may have a chance. Washington will probably be a very motivated squad as the Final Four is in Seattle, and UW is acting as the host school for the NCAA.
Should Kansas pull out a victory, they will face the winner of BYU-Southern Cal. Should it be SC, KU will face a very partisan crowd, as SC is (obviously) the host. SC finished third in the Pac-12, and ended the season ranked #7.
The Kansas-Washington match begins at 7 PM Central Time on Friday, Dec 13. It will be available on ESPN3 and I assume will also be webstreamed again for free on NCAA.com and KUAthletics.com. I will definitely post an update if that is incorrect.
Tune in if you can, and Rock Chalk!
Kansas vs Creighton, Second Round
Kansas is Sweet 16 (aka Regional) bound for the first time in program history after dispatching Creighton 3-1 Saturday night in front of 3,052 fans in Allen Fieldhouse.
The first set was a series of runs for both teams. Kansas started off hot, then Creighton answered, then the Jayhawks again. After all that, the two teams found themselves tied at 17. Kansas won the next four points, and ended up putting the Bluejays away 25-20.
To begin the second set, the teams exchanged points to a 7-7 tie. At that point, the Bluejays went on a run and won the next four points. They would not relinquish the lead en route to claiming the second set 25-22 and evening the match at 1-1.
In the third set, Kansas came out hot and established a 7-3 lead. However, Creighton was unfazed and responded with six consecutive points of their own. Kansas battled back and got it tied back up at 12-12, and eventually claimed a 19-17 lead. That lead stretched to 21-17 before Creighton battled back and tied it all up at 22-22. After a Creighton service error, Kansas won the next two points and finished off the third set 25-22.
At this point Kansas was really beginning to feel it. KU used the momentum from the end of the third set and kept it going, taking an early 5-1 lead. Creighton was kept at arm's length for the next few points, with Kansas eventually stretching the lead to 19-13. Kansas led throughout the fourth set, although Creighton made it interesting late. Trailing 22-17, Creighton made a run at the Jayhawks, closing to 22-20 and 23-21. However, another service error gave KU match point, which they converted to take the set 25-21.
Junior Chelsea Albers probably had the two best games of her career. One of KU's more versatile players, she plays front row and back row. Chelsea led Kansas in kills in both NCAA tournament games, and contributed her fair share of digs from the back row as well. Senior setter and Reigning Big 12 Setter of the Year Erin McNorton moved into second place in the school record books in assists over the weekend. Sophomore Tiana Dockery came off the bench for Kansas and provided a much needed spark vs Creighton, which was huge. It's good to know that Coach Bechard can go to the bench if necessary if one of the starters is struggling.
Looking ahead, Kansas will face #3 seed Washington in Los Angeles on December 13. The winner of that match will face the winner of BYU vs 6 seed Southern Cal for the right to go to Seattle for the Final Four.
Once all spots in the Sweet 16 have been claimed, I'll post an overall tournament update.
Kansas vs Wichita State, First Round
Friday evening, Kansas defeated Wichita State 3-1 in front of an official attendance of 4,017 fans in Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas started very hot, taking a 14-7 lead in the first set. WSU rallied, however, and won the next 8 points to take a lead of their own at 15-14. The Jayhawks responded to the adversity, however, and after exchanging blows with WSU, eventually took the first set 25-23.
Kansas controlled the second set, taking an early 8-4 lead. WSU never got any closer than three points, and KU took a two-set-to-none lead with a 25-19 score.
The third set was much more closely contested. After going back and forth early on, WSU finally took a 15-14 lead, then went on an 8-3 run to take command of the third set. WSU eventually put away the Jayhawks 25-20.
The fourth set started out looking more like the third set, with WSU in control early. The Shockers established leads of 10-7 and 15-12 before Kansas finally made a run at them. The Jayhawks proceeded to win the next six points and seize momentum with an 18-15 lead. KU kept WSU at arms length the rest of the set, and put away the Shockers at 25-22.
Next up for Kansas on Saturday night is Creighton. The Bluejays dispatched Arkansas in four sets in the matinee before KU-WSU. Creighton defeated Kansas back in September 3-1 in Omaha.
The NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament begins Thursday night on campus sites around the country. It is a 64 team field. The top 16 teams are seeded and host first and second round matches. The remaining 48 teams are placed according to conference affiliation first and proximity to first-round sites second. (The Tournament tries to avoid conference matchups in the first or second round.) Regionals (Sweet 16 and Elite 8) will take place at predetermined sites - Lincoln, NE; Champaign, IL; Lexington, KY; and Los Angeles, CA. Regional finals are December 14 on ESPNU. The National Semifinals and Final are Dec 19 and Dec 21 in Seattle, WA, on ESPN2.
Kansas is hosting for the second year in a row. KU's overall 23-7 (12-4 in conference) record was good enough to claim sole possession of second in the Big 12, KU's best finish ever. KU finished the season with a ranking of #23. The only other Big 12 team in the Top 25 rankings is Texas (#1). Oklahoma and Iowa State are receiving votes. However, due to aggressive non-conference scheduling, Kansas finished #13 in the RPI, so that combined with their ranking earned them a #14 seed in the tournament and the opportunity to host first and second round matches. This year, Kansas has played 14 matches against 10 teams in the tournament field, going 7-7. Only four Big 12 teams made the tournament this year: Texas, Kansas, Iowa State, and Oklahoma.
Despite being seeded, Kansas actually got a pretty tough draw - in my opinion, one of the tougher sub-regionals. KU's first game on Friday evening will be against Wichita State. WSU knocked the Jayhawks out of the tournament in the second round last year (also in Allen Fieldhouse). Wichita State started off the season ranked #24, but fell out of the Top 25 after the first week and never returned. They rolled through the Missouri Valley Conference with a 15-3 mark and won the year-end conference tournament to claim the MVC automatic tournament berth. Their overall record is 28-6. Senior middle blocker Ashley Andrade ranks third in the NCAA in hitting percentage.
The other game in Lawrence features Creighton vs Arkansas. Neither team is ranked, but Creighton is receiving votes. Creighton's RPI is 16; Arkansas is 36. Kansas split a home and home this year with Arkansas, with each team winning on the other's home court in five sets. Kansas met Creighton in non-conference play as well, losing in Omaha in four sets. Wichita State also met Creighton in what is now a non-conference match, with the Shockers dropping the match in five sets in Wichita. Apparently the committee thinks the SEC is strong in volleyball, as Arkansas finished the year 16-13 (9-9), eighth in the SEC, and was the eighth and final SEC team in the field of 64. Creighton finished the year 21-7 (12-4), second in the Big East.
If the Jayhawks manage to advance, they will travel to Los Angeles. The Sweet 16 match would likely be against 3 seed Washington. If the seeds hold, Kansas would then have to knock off the 6 seed Trojans of USC to advance to Seattle. If Kansas were to make it to Seattle, they would most likely face 2 seed Penn State. The top four seeds on the opposite side of the bracket from KU are top seed Texas, 4 seed Missouruh, 5 seed Florida, and 8 seed Nebraskuh. How about a potential volleyball national championship game featuring Kansas and Missouruh?
We probably shouldn't look too far ahead, as KU will have a tough time making it out of Lawrence and I honestly don't expect the Jayhawks to get to Seattle. But they don't play these games on paper. The Jayhawks have the talent to make some noise in this tournament. With seven seniors and last year's tournament experience, there's no reason for them to not make a run.
Kansas has been among national statistical leaders all year long, both individually and as a team. As a team, KU ranks 13th in the NCAA in kills, 14th in assists, and 24th in hitting percentage. KU also ranks 38th in blocks per set. KU has not been swept in three sets yet this year.
KU had four players make first team All-Big 12 in Caroline Jarmoc, Sara McClinton, Chelsea Albers, and freshman Tayler Soucie. Jarmoc ranks 5th in KU history in kills, and currently holds the top spot in the school record book in blocks. Senior setter Erin McNorton unanimously won Big 12 Setter of the Year. McNorton ranks 4th this season in the NCAA in assists per set. Not yet mentioned is KU senior libero (defensive specialist) Brianne Riley who is among all-time KU leaders in digs and currently ranks 6th all-time on the Big 12 career digs list. On top of all of that, Coach Ray Bechard won his second consecutive Big 12 Coach of the Year award.
When Kansas has struggled this year, the issue has been a tendency to start slow. A couple of times this year, this has resulted in a loss for Kansas when the opponent took advantage, seized momentum, and never gave it up. In other cases, KU was able to recover and take care of business.
The Jayhawks need to start strong, be aggressive, and play smart, all of which they are more than capable of. A big, raucous crowd will help them. Last year, the Lawrence sub-regional saw the highest attendance of all the first and second round sites. Let's make it two years in a row.
Tickets are $6 Reserved or $5 General Admission per day. Hopefully students will come out and help fill up the old barn. I call upon all who are in the Topeka/Lawrence/Kansas City area to join me in Allen Fieldhouse Friday evening and help the ladies exact revenge upon Wichita State for last year, and then destroy the winner the Creighton/Arkansas game on Saturday evening. Take off work an hour early, get the wife and kids (if applicable), and come on out!
The action starts on Friday (Dec 6) at 4 PM with Creighton and Arkansas, with Kansas and Wichita State starting approximately half an hour after the first match finishes. The winners will meet Saturday evening at 6:30. If you can't make it to Allen Fieldhouse, games will webstream live on NCAA.com and KUAthletics.com free of charge.