Archive for Wednesday, September 29, 2004

KU eager to make statement against Nebraska

September 29, 2004


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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