One more match.
That's all Kansas needs to hit 20 straight wins.
But it's not going to be easy. The Goliath of the Big 12 — No. 2 Texas — stands in the way and the Jayhawks know that.
Asked whether or not the Texas game was looming over the team, Kansas coach Ray Bechard answered with just two words:
Texas (17-1) has been nationally ranked every week since Week 1 of the 2004 season. Rarely have they dropped out of the top 10. The Longhorns have been ranked 428 times in the history of the AVCA. Only six schools nationwide have been ranked more than that. The Longhorns are the reigning Queens of the Big 12, as they have won the conference for the five of the past six seasons.
"We can thank [Jerritt Elliott] for elevating everybody else in the league because that's what we've done over the last decade is try to chase them," Bechard said of Texas' coach and its program.
No. 7 Kansas (19-0) hasn't had that level of sustained success. Before this season, the highest Kansas had ever been ranked was No. 17 and that was in 2013, when the Jayhawks advanced to the Sweet 16. Over the history of the AVCA, Kansas has been ranked 30 times.
Kansas hasn't beaten Texas since its senior leaders were fourth graders. Kansas defeated the Longhorns twice in 2003. Both matches were extended to five sets. Bechard had just surpassed 800 career wins and 100 wins at Kansas that season. In context, Bechard clinched 1,000 career wins in 2014, and 300 wins at Kansas in 2015.
"They've been great," Bechard said of Texas. "They've been to a ton of Final Fours in a row. They've been in a position to win a national championship many of the last few years. If we have aspirations of being a player in the Big 12, it's not a must win, but certainly we have to impress how we play on them. It needs to be a really competitive match."
Outside of beating Texas twice, 2003 was a good year for Kansas volleyball. Kansas made it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history and advanced to the round of 32 before falling to Pepperdine.
Kansas can end the 12 year drought. Beating Texas isn't impossible. This season, Texas has dropped one match already, against then-No. 4 Florida. At the time, Texas was No. 3 and lost that match 1-3. Texas hasn't faced a top 10 opponent since.
It's not rare that Texas loses at least one conference match. Since 2005, Texas has lost at least one Big 12 matchup in all but one season. During the 2013 campaign, Texas won every conference game and rode the momentum all the way to the Final Four.
But just because it's possible doesn't mean it's not going to be difficult. History is stacked against the Jayhawks.
Kansas hasn't played a single ranked opponent this season and hasn't defeated a nationally ranked team since 2012, when the Jayhawks defeated then-No. 19 Iowa State in five sets. The last time Kansas defeated a top 10 ranked opponent was in 2011, when Kansas topped then-No. 6 Minnesota in five sets. Kansas has never defeated an opponent that has been ranked in the top five.
This season Kansas has defeated 19 straight opponents, only dropping five sets on the season. That's the least amount of set losses in the country. No. 1 Southern California is also undefeated at 20-0, but has lost nine sets so far this season.
"I think this is everything and more," sophomore right side hitter Kelsie Payne said of going undefeated into the impending Texas match. "This is more than what we could have hoped for and asked for. We've worked hard for it, so I'm excited."
Several Jayhawks are native Texans. Payne and sophomore outside hitter Madison Ridgon grew up going to Texas volleyball matches.
"I'm from Austin so [this game], it's a big deal," Payne said. "I've always dreamed of one day playing in that gym. This is my way of doing that."
There's no debate. This is the best season Kansas volleyball has ever had in the history of the program. If the Jayhawks were ever to upset the Longhorns, the time would be now.
"[Winning would be] really high," Payne said of where a potential win would rank on her volleyball achievements list. "This is something I've thought about for a really long time and the past few weeks it's all I've been thinking about."
No. 7 Kansas and No. 2 Texas face off in Austin, Texas at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23.
— Edited Leah Sitz