KU, K-State volleyball selected to NCAA Tournament

Courtesy: KU Athletics

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas volleyball team was named the overall No. 16 seed, and will serve as an NCAA Tournament First and Second Round host for the third-straight season, Dec. 5-6, in the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kansas.

The Jayhawks finished the regular season with a fairytale ending – a comeback victory on Senior Day to finish tied for second place in the Big 12 Conference. Armed with an overall national seed for the third-straight season, Kansas was awarded First and Second Round hosting rights in what is becoming a trend for Jayhawk volleyball. The difference in 2014, however, will be the venue. With Allen Fieldhouse already locked down for the Kansas men’s basketball team to play host to Florida on Dec. 5, the NCAA Volleyball Selection Committee awarded the Jayhawks the ability to host in Topeka.

Kansas will host Arkansas-Little Rock on Friday, Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m. inside the Kansas Expocentre. Joining them in the bracket are Creighton and Oregon State. The winner will advance to the Ames, Iowa Regional hosted by Iowa State, Dec. 12-13.

NCAA First & Second Round Schedule (Topeka, Kansas)
Match 1: Friday, Dec. 5, 4 p.m.: (2) Creighton vs. (3) Oregon State
Match 2: Friday, Dec. 5, 6:30 p.m.: (4) Arkansas-Little Rock vs. (1) Kansas
Match 3: Saturday, Dec. 6, 6:30 p.m.: Match 1 Winner vs. Match 2 Winner

ABOUT KANSAS
Kansas completed the regular season 22-8 overall and 10-6 in the Big 12 Conference. The Jayhawks were voted to finish second in the Big 12 Preseason Poll in August even though they welcomed seven newcomers to the team. Although KU started the conference slate in last place with an 0-3 record, the Jayhawks built themselves fought their way back to win 10 of their last 13 matches. Before 2013, KU had never finished second in the Big 12 – now Kansas has now pulled it off two years in a row.

Led by 17-year head coach Ray Bechard, Kansas will make its third-consecutive, and sixth overall, NCAA Tournament appearance. All six tournament berths have occurred in the Bechard era (2003, 2004, 2005, 2012, 2013, 2014).

ABOUT ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK (UALR)
UALR heads to Kansas after capturing its first Sun Belt Tournament title since 2000. The Trojans boast the nation’s longest win streak at 24 matches and put together the first 20-0 regular-season Sun Belt slate in conference history. UALR dropped just 10 sets over its win streak, which dates back to Sept. 12.

The Trojans are led by senior outside hitter Edina Begic, the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year for the third straight season – the most of any player in conference history. She attacks for an impressive 4.66 kills per set and has more than 500 total kills on the season.

Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Edina Selimovic and junior outside hitter Sonja Milanovic joined Begic on the All-SBC First Team. As a unit, UALR puts up 13.62 kills per set and has a solid .283 team attack percentage – which would rank second behind No. 3 Texas in the Big 12.

The Trojans are led by 27-year coaching veteran, Van Compton, who was named the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year.

FOLLOW THE TOURNAMENT
Each of the Topeka, Kansas, first and second round matches will webstream live on NCAA.com and KUAthletics.com free of charge. Coverage updates will be provided later in the week and by following @KUVolleyball on Twitter.

SELECTION PROCESS
The Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee selected the 64-team field from 328 NCAA Division I institutions that sponsor women’s volleyball. Kansas was one of 32 teams to receive an at-large bid. The other 32 teams were automatic qualifiers.

FIRST AND SECOND ROUND
First and second round competition of the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship will be held at 16 campus sites Dec. 5-6, Dec. 6-7 or Dec. 7-8, including Topeka. Winners advance to four regional tournaments.

REGIONALS
Regionals for the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship will be held Dec. 12-13. The four predetermined sites are: Hilton Coliseum (Iowa State) in Ames, Iowa, KFC Yum! Center (University of Louisville) in Louisville, Kentucky, Alaska Airlines Arena (University of Washington) in Seattle, Washington, and Sports Pavilion (University of Minnesota) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Each quarterfinal winner will advance to semifinal action of the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Dec. 18-20.

CHAMPIONSHIP
The 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship will be held at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Quarterfinal winners will compete in semifinal matches held Dec. 18. The national championship match of NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball will be played Dec. 20.

KANSAS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
2003 (1-1): In its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance Kansas swept Long Beach State in the first round match in Malibu, Calif. In the second round, top-seeded Pepperdine won its 25th-straight match that season to knock KU out of the tournament.

2004 (1-1): Kansas defeated Santa Clara in four sets in the first round in Seattle, Wash. In the second round, KU came back from an 0-2 deficit but fell in five sets to Washington.

2005 (0-1): After a 15-15 season, an injury-depleted Jayhawk roster fell in the first round to UCLA, 3-1.

2012 (1-1): Posting the best winning percentage in program history (.788), Kansas earned a No. 11 overall seed and first and second round hosting rights. The Jayhawks welcomed more than 8,000 fans to Allen Fieldhouse over the two-day tournament, which saw KU defeat Cleveland State in the first round and fall to Wichita State in the second.

2013 (2-1): Led by four All-American Jayhawks, Kansas finished second in the Big 12 Conference and went on to earn the No. 14 national overall seed. The Jayhawks defeated Wichita State and Creighton to advance to the first Sweet 16 in program history. The Jayhawks were defeated by fifth-ranked Washington, who went on to the 2013 Final Four.

2014 AT A GLANCE
• Back-to-back defending Big 12 Coach of the Year, Ray Bechard, is in his 30th overall season as a head coach in 2014 and his 17th with the Jayhawks. He enters the NCAA Tournament with a career mark of 1,011-285.
• Since starting 0-3 in Big 12 play, the Jayhawks won 10 of their last 13 conference contests to finish the season tied for second-place in the Big 12. That marks the second-straight second-place finish for the Jayhawks.
• Kansas jumped up to No. 11 in the latest NCAA RPI projections (11/30). That means KU has been outside of the RPI’s top-20 just three weeks in the last three years. Thus far in 2014, KU is 3-5 vs. top-25 RPI teams, 1-6 vs. top-50 and 11-7 vs. top-100 (at match time).
• The Jayhawk offense finished the regular season ranked second in kills per set (13.84), assists per set (12.85) and overall winning percentage (22-8, .733).
• Freshman setter Ainise Havili continues her reign of leading the Big 12. The Fort Worth native set the tone in the league with her 1,278 assists and 11.31 assists per set, which ranks 18th in the NCAA.
• Sophomore middle blocker Tayler Soucie completed the regular season as the conference’s blocking leader. Her 1.47 blocks per set ranks ninth in the NCAA.
• Sophomore libero Cassie Wait became the third Jayhawk in program history to surpass 500 digs in a season (Brianne Riley twice, Catalina Suarez). Her 534 digs and 4.74 dig average ranks third all-time in a KU single season.
• Senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers became just the seventh Jayhawk in history to post 900-career kills and 800-career digs on Senior Day against Oklahoma.

Courtesy: K-State Athletics

MANHATTAN, Kan. – After compiling 22 victories and a winning Big 12 record, the K-State volleyball has advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 15th time in program history as it learned on Sunday that it will play Utah of the Pac-12 in Lincoln, Nebraska for the First Round on December 5 at 4:30 p.m., the NCAA selection committee announced.

K-State will play alongside the Utes, Hofstra and host No. 14 Nebraska in the Bob Devaney Sports Center for the First/Second Rounds of the tournament. All four teams are among the 16 teams in the Seattle Regional, which is slated for December 12-13. The Wildcats have played at Nebraska in each of their last three trips to the NCAA Tournament, all of which have taken place in the last four years.

“We’re thrilled; anytime you get a chance to play in the tournament and be one of 64 teams to play volleyball in December, you’ve got to be excited about it,” said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz. “No matter what has happened to this point, everyone starts all over. We like the opportunity.”

K-State has enjoyed one of its more notable campaigns over the last six years, recording its most regular season wins since 2008. The Wildcats, who were ranked in the AVCA Division I Coaches Poll for five straight weeks earlier this season, have posted its best road/neutral record (13-4) in program history so far, including an 8-3 mark in true road matches.

The Wildcats entered the season as one of the youngest teams in program history, carrying 14 underclassmen. Despite the youth, the mix of returners and newcomers jumped out to a 13-1 record in nonconference play, which was tied for the second-best start in program history. Only three players on the K-State roster have played in an NCAA Tournament match, a group that includes seniors Chelsea Keating (2011, 2012), Taylor Johnson (2011) and Gina Madonia (2011, 2012).

K-State is led by freshman Kylee Zumach, who is pacing the team in kills (406) and points (442.5). Redshirt sophomore Katie Brand leads the team in assists (1,249) while sophomore Kersten Kober is the team-leader in digs (405). Redshirt senior Natali Jones (144) and redshirt sophomore Katie Reininger (129) have helped power the team to its most blocks in a season since 2007 (328.0).

The Wildcats are 14-14 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 9-9 under Fritz.

K-State was one of five Big 12 teams that earned a spot in this year’s tournament, joining Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Kansas.

The No. 1 seeds for each of the four Regionals are No. 1 Stanford (Ames Regional), No. 2 Texas (Minneapolis), No. 3 Washington (Seattle) and No. 4 Wisconsin (Louisville).

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