Simply put, the 2018 Kansas volleyball season was a bit of a roller-coaster ride.
The Jayhawks finished the season with an overall record of 15-12, while finishing 8-8 in conference play, good enough for a fifth place finish in the Big 12.
After starting the season at 4-4, the Jayhawks rattled off nine straight wins, highlighted by victories over then-No. 23 Baylor and then-No. 4 Texas. This was one of the most dominant stretches by Kansas in a long time, putting up an average .238 hitting clip and over 14 total blocks per match.
During that run, and over the course of the season, Kansas's identity of "next man up" really came into form. Junior hitter Jada Burse established herself time and time again as one of the most dynamic offensive players on the roster, leading the team in kills with 374 on the year.
Another aspect of the team's great run and season was the overall defensive play of the team. For the season, the Jayhawks had their third highest total in blocks at 311.5 and tallied the highest ever blocks per set ratio at 2.9 (for 25-point rally scoring; 2008-present).
Along with the season as a whole, Kansas saw strong performances from all four of its freshman, each contributing in different spots. Freshman middle blocker Rachel Langs was able to compile a season of 120 total blocks, just five behind the team leader.
Aside from Langs, most of the standout performances were seen in the second row. From freshman serving specialist Audri Suter, who tallied nine aces on the season, to freshman libero Lacey Angello who had the second highest number of digs on the team with 258.
Lastly, there was freshman outside hitter Camryn Ennis who contributed just about everywhere throughout the season, totaling 462 assists on the season, only behind senior setter Gabby Simpson, and scoring the most aces on the team with 19.
All of these performances and many others on the team led to four Jayhawks being selected to All-Big 12 teams. Burse was the only one to make it on the All-Big 12 First Team, her third All-Conference honor and first time on the First Team.
"Jada (Burse) has taken over matches for us with her attack, and her physicality has led to her scoring points through blocks," coach Ray Bechard said, according to a Kansas Athletics press release. "There are times were she has been very dominate and carried us offensively.”
Following Burse were two All-Big 12 Second Team honorees in Simpson and junior hitter Ashley Smith.
"I think teams and the other coaches in the Big 12 see Gabby's (Simpson) value in that she is willing to contribute whatever is needed,” Bechard said in the release.
Langs would be the last Jayhawk to get the honors by making the all Big 12 Rookie Team.
Aside from the disappointing run to end the season, Kansas volleyball will have lots to look forward to for its 2019 season.