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Archive for Wednesday, November 26, 2003

KU in prime spot for NCAA berth

November 26, 2003

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— Kansas University's volleyball team controls its own destiny as it seeks an NCAA Tournament berth.

Wins in its final two Big 12 Conference matches -- starting tonight with Baylor -- could seal the deal, but sixth-year KU coach Ray Bechard knows it won't be easy.

"We don't have to count on someone else and get help from other teams," Bechard said. "We can do it ourselves. That's a great position to be in."

The Jayhawks will play Baylor at 7 tonight in Waco, Texas, then return to Lawrence for a 7 p.m. match Saturday against Texas Tech at Horejsi Center.

Kansas (19-10 overall, 11-7 Big 12) is in fifth place in the Big 12, and a pair of wins could move them as high as third.

Baylor is in eighth place in the Big 12 and Tech is ninth, but the road is bumpy at best. The Jayhawks squeaked past the Bears in five games in Lawrence seven weeks ago. They had to rally from a 14-10 deficit in Game Five for the victory.

Baylor (12-20, 4-14) has played much better since then, Bechard said. The Bears are healthier than they've been all season, and they've moved senior Stevie Nicholas from libero to outside hitter. She tallied 22 kills in the Bears' 3-1 loss to No. 10 Nebraska last week.

"They're not just coasting into the end of the year," Bechard said. "They honestly believe they can get better, and that's exactly what they're doing."

The Jayhawks are playing their best volleyball, too. They've won five of six matches in November, and Bechard said his squad had figured out how to overcome obstacles.

"They've put themselves in position to close out what would be a great regular season," he said, "but we're not at the finish line yet. We've gotta run through the tape."

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