If there was one player who would have been the most jittery in the Kansas University volleyball home opener at Horejsi Family Athletics Center on Tuesday, the first guess would be true freshman Brittany Williams.
But it wasn't so, as it looked like it was second nature for Williams, who finished with nine kills in her first start at the expense of UMKC in a 3-0 (30-21, 30-18, 30-16) KU victory.
"They called upon me to play, so I had to play," Williams said. "I was really excited about playing in this home opener. ... I loved the band ... and seeing all my friends in the crowd was cool."
Her play so far, after being thrown into a new situation so quickly, has caught the eyes of some of the veteran players.
"She came in as a freshman, probably not expecting her situation, but she's stepped up and done an amazing job," senior Megan Hill said. "We're really excited to see where she can go."
Williams said the upperclassmen's watchful eyes had made it easier for her to grasp the different style of play.
"I still have to learn this game and learn that it's faster and just step up," Williams said. "I don't think I'm a very skilled player - I'm maybe more athletic."
With such a lopsided affair, KU coach Ray Bechard was able to get all 15 players a little playing time.
"We played the alumni game, and that kind of got them a chance to get started, but this was the real, for real, game," said Emily Brown about the six freshmen who saw playing time. "I think they were pretty excited ... and went out there to see what it's all about here at Horejsi."
The atmosphere of the home opener was where some of the excitement came from, but some of it stemmed from listening to a motivational speaker Monday night.
Ray Bechard's 2006 media day press conference
"It was pretty intense," Brown said. "So we were all kind of fired up to play today."
That was evident with the squad having five players finish with nine or more kills. Savannah Noyes and Jana Correa joined Williams with nine kills, while Hill had 10 and Brown's 12 led the squad.
"That's always the fun part, when everybody gets their chance and everybody does well and it's evenly distributed," Hill said. "It's fun to go out there with everyone getting kills and everybody's corroborating together.
"It's just nice to share a win knowing that everybody contributed."
But things weren't perfect on opening night in Horejsi - where KU is now 8-0 in home openers. The Jayhawks had some problems from the service line.
KU posted 17 service errors for the match - but was able to cap the final game with only two mistakes.
"The attacking part of the game was clean, our releases were clean, our passing was clean," Bechard said. "It just gets contagious when you're serving well, and it gets contagious when you're not serving very well, but I thought game three was really, really good."
¢ Streak at 14: The Jayhawks have won 14 straight over the 'Roos with their last loss dating back to Oct. 19, 1983 - KU's lone loss out of the 26 games played between the two teams.