A sea of red will sweep into Lawrence tonight -- no, it's not time for the Kansas-Nebraska football game. That's on Oct. 25 at Memorial Stadium.
Tonight, KU will play host to the No. 5-ranked Nebraska volleyball team at 7:30 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse.
And not unline the gridiron gypsies that follow the Huskers, NU's volleyball squad traditionally brings around 1,000 fans with them.
"I guess they rent buses and make the drive from Lincoln. They make a lot of noise. But I think we're going to have a lot of fans here, too, with the game being on TV," KU senior Kendra Kahler said. "I hope so. It always helps to have people cheering for you."
The Big 12 Conference season opener for both teams will be televised by Fox Sports Net and shown at 10 a.m. Sunday on cable channel 45.
Kansas, which will give free admission to children dressed in blue tonight, will need a huge crowd to stand a chance. Get this: The Jayhawks, who are 21-79-3 against Nebraska in football throughout history, are 2-57-1 against NU in volleyball.
The Jayhawks last beat NU in volleyball in 1977 when Ottawa-native Kahler was a 1-year-old.
"It's always tough, but always a lot of fun to play them," said Kahler, 0-6 versus the Huskers in her three years as KU's right-side hitter. The Jayhawks have dropped 19 straight games to the Huskers.
"They are so good they tend to bring up your own level of play. They are sound, consistent, disciplined. They are always in position. It's the little things like that that are important in volleyball."
Kahler, who had a career-high 20 kills in KU's season-opening loss to Oregon, is wrapping up a standout career. She is seventh on KU's all-time block assists list (192) and eighth on the career kill list (767).
"It's been fun playing close to home," said Kahler, Kansas' Class 5A player of the year as a senior at Ottawa High. "I always wanted to play at KU, ever since I was little. We've had some tough times but we've been improving each year, too. We're all excited about this season."
That's because the Jayhawks went 7-6 in the nonconference season, their first winning nonconference record in four years.
"The Big 12 is one of the toughest conferences in the country," Kahler said. "This weekend we open against Nebraska and Colorado (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Allen Fieldhouse). It can't get much tougher than that."
The Buffs are ranked 24th.
"We have to hit them some time, it might as well be now," Kahler said. "We've done pretty well so far. Our record is above .500 which gives us encouragement."
As a side note, KU coach Karen Schonewise is a former Husker All-American. In fact, there's a statue of Schonewise in NU's Devaney Center.