Caroline Jarmoc passed the couch test this week.
The Kansas University junior volleyball player says she can always measure how badly her body is aching on a given day based on how long it takes her to get up off her sofa.
This week, she’s been able to do it quickly.
“My knees don’t hurt as bad going down stairs,” Jarmoc said with a smile, “so that’s a good sign.”
That was all part of the plan this week for Kansas volleyball coach Ray Bechard, who gave his players extra rest in preparation for the top-seeded Jayhawks’ match-up against Cleveland State at 6:30 tonight in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Allen Fieldhouse.
Because his team had nearly a week between matches — Big 12 matches typically are played on Saturdays and Wednesdays — Bechard made a few changes in his team’s routine to keep players fresh.
For one, practices late in the week were shortened from two hours to 90 minutes. The coach also made an effort to keep his regulars from jumping too much in workouts — an activity that can wear on the body.
“I would say that my legs feel a lot better this week, because usually, they feel super-heavy and my quads are pretty tight,” Jarmoc said. “This week, I think my body’s kind of been able to catch up.”
The match will come toward the end of a whirlwind week for KU (25-6, 12-4 Big 12), which started with its selection as a host team for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
Since then, the volleyball team has soaked up the additional recognition. The players were introduced to standing ovations at men’s and women’s basketball games, and junior Jaime Mathieu was even stopped one night by a stranger at Target, who told her just how proud she was of the entire team.
“I think we’re all just so excited,” KU junior setter Erin McNorton said. “Even if we weren’t feeling as good as we are (physically), then we’d probably fake it.”
Because of the pressure that has come with the upcoming match, Bechard has tried to calm his players in practice, telling them to focus on this match like it’s a regular-season one.
“I think he doesn’t want us to get all in our heads and stuff, even though it is a big game,” McNorton said. “Focus on Cleveland State, and then we’ll go from there.”
The fourth-seeded Vikings (23-6, 13-1 Horizon League) have won 13 straight matches and haven’t lost since dropping a 3-0 decision to Loyola on Sept. 28.
Bechard believes playing on campus will provide his team an advantage. KU defeated Saint Louis, 3-0, in its only match at Allen Fieldhouse on Nov. 21.
“The fieldhouse I’m sure will get its own special buzz going,” Bechard said, “once we get some people in there and some exciting volleyball going.”
If KU wins, it will advance to play the winner between second-seeded Arkansas and third-seeded Wichita State at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Arkansas and WSU will play in the first match at 4 p.m. today at Allen Fieldhouse.