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Archive for Thursday, November 11, 2004

A sweet sweep

Jayhawks build momentum against Bears

November 11, 2004

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After Kansas University's volleyball team was upended Oct. 2 at Baylor, each Jayhawk had specific memories of the nightmarish trip to Texas.

For KU junior middle blocker Josi Lima, it was Baylor's Adeline Meira, a fellow native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, yelling in the Jayhawks' faces as she recorded 13 kills and six blocks.

When Kansas swept Baylor, 3-0 (30-25, 30-23, 30-26), Wednesday night at Horejsi Center in the rematch, Lima didn't yell back. She said she's not that type of player.

Instead, her numbers -- 18 kills, eight digs and two blocks -- did the talking.

Kansas (15-9 overall, 6-9 Big 12 Conference) needed to gain all the momentum it could because its next two matches will be on the road against the conference's two top teams -- Nebraska and Texas.

The Jayhawks certainly looked like a conference title contender throughout much of the first game. After two thunderous kills from junior outside hitter Paula Caten, they had established a 23-13 lead.

The Bears then took off on a 10-1 run, aided largely by Kansas errors. Leading just 24-23, KU coach Ray Bechard called a timeout to help his team re-focus.

"I think they were expecting a pretty good fight, and it looked relatively easy in game one because, for one reason or another, Baylor wasn't playing that well," Bechard said. "I said, 'Hey, it would not be good to lose game one after having a lead like that.'

"They sensed it was time to move forward a bit, and they did."

Kansas University volleyball players, from left, Ashley Michaels,
Andi Rozum, Paula Caten, Emily Brown and Josi Lima celebrate a kill
against Baylor.

Kansas University volleyball players, from left, Ashley Michaels, Andi Rozum, Paula Caten, Emily Brown and Josi Lima celebrate a kill against Baylor.

Behind three more kills from Lima, the Jayhawks sealed game one. Kansas showed some technical sloppiness in the first game, committing five service errors, but just had four the rest of the night.

Though it certainly did not look easy, Kansas held comfortable leads throughout games two and three to complete the sweep.

"Obviously, it seems like a long time ago down there, but our players remembered it," Bechard said. "We knew we were a much better team than what we showed down there.



"It seemed like when we needed to make a little spurt, we did. When we needed to, it seemed like we were on it with little three-, four- and five-point runs."

The biggest overall highlight for Kansas was its hitting efficiency. The Jayhawks notched an astounding .376 hitting percentage in the match, had five players with at least nine kills and held Baylor to a meager .196 hitting percentage.

KU's Dani Wittman returns a serve. The Jayhawks swept the Bears,
30-25, 30-23, 30-26, Wednesday night at Horejsi Center.

KU's Dani Wittman returns a serve. The Jayhawks swept the Bears, 30-25, 30-23, 30-26, Wednesday night at Horejsi Center.

Bechard also lauded the play of junior setter Andi Rozum, who had a match-high 49 assists. More impressive than Rozum's assists, he said, was her superb placement. Her teammates agreed.

"I think some games, me and Andi connect more than other games," Lima said. "I think today we had a very good connection."

Others on the Jayhawk front line benefited as well. Sophomore outside hitter Jana Correa had 15 kills, while senior middle blocker Ashley Michaels and Caten each had nine. Freshman opposite hitter Emily Brown also had nine, including the kills that sealed each of the first two games.

Bechard knows his team probably will need to win each of its three remaining matches following the upcoming road trip to have a solid shot at a second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

Kansas University senior libero Jill Dorsey makes a dig against
Baylor. Dorsey and the Jayhawks swept the Bears, 3-0, Wednesday
night at Horejsi Center.

Kansas University senior libero Jill Dorsey makes a dig against Baylor. Dorsey and the Jayhawks swept the Bears, 3-0, Wednesday night at Horejsi Center.

Even though the two tough matchups over the next week look like daunting tasks, he's hoping Wednesday's victory provides a little momentum.

"I was talking to the team about it," Bechard said of Friday's trip to face undefeated Nebraska. "Why not go up there and have a great time, and play with no fear? There shouldn't be a lot of expectation on us because they're really rolling. I think they're the best team in the country right now, so it'll be an unbelievable challenge for us."

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