Kansas Volleyball Regional Action: Jayhawks Knocked Out

The Kansas Volleyball season came to an end last Friday night (Dec 13) with what I'll call a disappointing loss to #3 seed Washington. Kansas didn't necessarily look overwhelmed. I don't think the moment was "too big" for them or anything like that. With seven seniors on the roster, that should never be the case. Kansas just looked like a team that was happy with what they had accomplished to that point. They were just glad to be there. And it showed in their play, at least to open the match.

In the opening set, Kansas actually played Washington pretty well for the first several points. After going back and forth for a few points, Kansas claimed a 6-5 lead. That wold be the last lead they would see for quite a while, as Washington went on a quick 6-0 run. Before you know it, it's 11-6 and it feels like things are getting away from the Jayhawks. This turns out to be the case, as Washington builds an 18-9 lead. Kansas showed a little fight in closing the game to 21-16, but couldn't get any closer, and UW claimed the first set 25-18.

Things would get even worse for KU in the second set. If you blinked, you missed it, and KU was down 9-2 almost immediately. KU went on a small run, and closed to got to within single digits at 16-9. UW was on fire at this point, though, and put away Kansas at 25-13 in one of the worst sets that KU has played all season.

After the intermission, Kansas finally came out and played like we've seen all year. Kansas finally changed up their attack plan, and Taylor Soucie went off on Washington. The set started off back and forth, similar to the first set, and Kansas finally picked up a slight edge at 12-9. They kept the lead at 15-13 and then 20-19. After falling behind 21-20, KU responded in the next two points by retaking the lead at 23-22. However, a service error deflated the Jayhawks, Washington seized the advantage, and put away KU 26-24.

So, the Jayhawk's volleyball season has come to an end. Incidentally, the last time KU got swept 3-0 in a set (45 matches ago), Texas went on to win the National Title.

Unforced errors just killed the Jayhawks Friday night. Eight service errors, including one near the end of the third set with Kansas clinging to a one point lead, were devastating. Add to that 25 attack errors, and you have a beat-down on your hands.

Regardless of how it ended, this year will go down as one of the best years in Kansas volleyball history. This team played a very tough non-conference schedule, so the wins aren't necessarily there, but this is the farthest they have advanced in the NCAA tournament. Kansas defeated Final Four participant Wisconsin in Madison in September, spent most of the year in the Top 25 Coaches poll, and all of the year in the Top 15 RPI. Kansas also claimed sole possession of second place (behind top-ranked Texas) in the Big 12, their best finish ever in conference play.

Seven seniors have finished their careers at KU, many of them claiming top five spots in the record books.

- Caroline Jarmoc, 1,333 career kills, 2nd all-time at KU

- Caroline Jarmoc, 555 career blocks, eighth all-time in Big 12, first all-time at KU

- Brianne Riley, 2,053 career digs, fourth all-time in Big 12, first (by over 600) at KU

- Erin McNorton, 1,517 assists this year, second best season in KU history

- Erin McNorton, 3,089 career assists, sixth all-time at KU

However, the future is bright. Freshman Taylor Soucie set a KU freshman record for blocks in a season, 135. Freshman Cassie Wait will most likely be next year's libero, and if she starts for three years, Riley's digs record might be in jeopardy. Also returning are key reserves sophomore Tiana Dockery and junior Sara McClinton, who should be starting hitters next year. Kansas will really miss Erin McNorton. Sophomore Maggie Anderson is expected to take over setting duties. Junior Chelsea Albers, a key player and starter this year, will be back as well.

Volleyball will start back up next September. I plan on going back. At least I get my money's worth out of these season tickets (looking at YOU, Charlie Weis).

For an update on the NCAA Volleyball Tournament overall, click over to here:

Rock Chalk!