KU volleyball team stays focused on their own side of the net
- Aug. 23, 2012
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The Kansas volleyball team starts its season this Friday in Fayetteville, Ark., at the Arkansas Invitational, the first of four tournaments the team will compete in this season.
The Jayhawks begin the tournament Friday at 4:30 p.m. against Northwestern State. The tournament continues on Saturday with two games, the first against Tennessee-Martin at 1:30 p.m., followed by the second and final tournament game against Arkansas at 7:00 p.m..
“Typically for me, I think you see more progress from the beginning of this tournament to the end than any other weekend you’ll play in,” coach Ray Bechard said. “You take care of your side of the net, and as you get into the tournament a little deeper, by the time you play Saturday, then you can begin to feel a little bit more comfortable with what’s going on your side of the net, and you can begin to develop a little bit of a game plan for your opponent.”
This is the first time the Jayhawks will play Northwestern State or Tennesse-Martin under coach Ray Bechard. Bechard is entering his 15th season with the program.
Junior setter Kara Wehrs said the Jayhawks aren’t concerned about being unfamiliar with their opponents; rather, they are focused on their own execution.
“We’ve only played Arkansas, so not being able to scout the other two teams, I don’t think it really matters that much in the fact that we need to concentrate on what’s on our side and work on what Kansas has to offer,” Kara said.
The Northwestern State Lady Demons finished the 2011 season 10-20, but return every starter. The Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks went 19-14 last season and return with three starters. The Arkansas Razorbacks ended the 2011 season with a 18-13 record, and are predicted to finish third in the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference. They return five starters, including senior outside hitter Jasmine Norton, who earned first team All-SEC honors last year.
The Jayhawks return five starters: sophomore outside hitter Chelsea Albers, senior defensive specialist Morgan Boub, junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc, senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree and Kara Wehrs. Junior libero Brianne Riley also returns.
Junior outside hitter and defensive specialist Amy Wehrs said the Jayhawks’ cohesiveness gives them confidence, even though they open the season against two unfamiliar opponents.
“I feel like we have so much depth and experience on this team, and we have a lot of returners that if they give us some type of adversity or anything like that we’ll be able to adjust to that and just play KU volleyball,” Amy said.
Bechard said opening the season with three straight matches is beneficial for his team because they will be able to make quick adjustments during the tournament, instead of having to wait a few days for one match.
This will be the Jayhawks’ first official match of the season, but they did play the Crimson and Blue match last Saturday in front of fans. The Crimson and Blue match is when the roster is split into two opposing teams for a scrimmage. Returning junior libero Brianne Riley said that Crimson and Blue match was good because they were able to release some energy from preseason practices but also get settled into the season.
Every year, Kansas plays in tournaments during the non-conference season, so fatigue shouldn’t be a factor during Saturday’s games. Amy said they are excited to begin the season with tournaments because it lets them measure the progress they made during preseason practices.
“I’m glad we’re playing three matches,” Amy said. “We’ve had so many days of two-a-days and practice that we’re just ready to get out there and show everyone what we’ve got and start
the season off right.”
—Edited by Laken Rapier