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Archive for Wednesday, September 29, 2004

KU eager to make statement against Nebraska

September 29, 2004

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An angry group of Kansas University volleyball players will take the Horejsi Center court at 7 tonight against No. 7 Nebraska.

The 24th-ranked Jayhawks (10-2 overall, 1-2 Big 12 Conference) were irritated by their performance Saturday during a 3-0 loss at home to then-No. 22 Texas.

KU never was in the match against Texas and stopped doing the things that have allowed them to be successful this season -- smothering opponents' hitters with solid blocking, and extending matches with exhausting hustle from their back-row players.

That would be different tonight, said seventh-year KU coach Ray Bechard.

"We're gonna bounce back," he said. "We want to prove we're a better team than we showed Saturday, and now we've got arguably the best team in the country in Nebraska coming in.

"This is a chance to prove to ourselves that the effort we showed Saturday is just not acceptable by current Kansas volleyball standards."

Kansas came close to beating Nebraska (9-1 overall, 4-0 Big 12) last year in Lawrence. But the Cornhuskers escaped with a 3-1 victory in a tight match. NU outblocked KU 22-3, and the Jayhawks had 16 service errors in the 31-29, 25-30, 30-28, 30-24 defeat.

Bechard said this year's Husker squad was drastically improved.

"Last year's matches were very competitive, but they're a whole different team," he said. "They've got the best freshman in the country and they're playing very well right now. They're a Final Four or national championship-caliber team. That can motivate us, but we've got to worry about what goes on over on our side of the net."

Behind the Big 12 preseason co-freshman of the year Sarah Pavan -- a 6-foot-5 outside hitter from Kitchener, Ontario, and last week's Big 12 Player of the Week -- Nebraska has won six straight matches. KU, meanwhile, has dropped two of four.

Records for the all-time KU-NU series are disputed. Kansas lists the Huskers with a 71-1-1 lead with the lone KU victory coming in a 2-1 win on Oct. 17, 1975, at Graceland College in the schools' first-ever meeting, and a 1-1 tie on Nov. 5, 1977. Nebraska claims to be 72-0 against the Jayhawks.

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