If Kansas volleyball continues its winning streak, history will be made this weekend at the Kansas Invitational. Coach Ray Bechard currently sits at 298 match wins while he's been at the University.
It’s no surprise that the Jayhawks have high expectations for this season, as they’ve consistently referred to this year’s run as “unprecedented" — if Kansas makes it to the NCAA Tournament this year, it will be its fourth straight appearance, which would be a program record.
Like the football team, the Jayhawks have their home opener this weekend with the Kansas Invitational. On the Jayhawks’ slate: Western Illinois, Duke and UMKC.
Kansas (3-0) holds its first home match against Western Illinois (0-3) at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 4.
The Leathernecks dropped their first three matches against Akron, Drake and DePaul in their home opener tournament. Despite having a winless record, Western Illinois put up a fight in all of its previous three matches. The Leathernecks even stole a set against DePaul.
On Friday, Kansas plays Duke (2-1) at 7 p.m. The matchup with the Blue Devils will be the hardest one so far in the season for Kansas.
In the AVCA preseason poll, Duke was ranked No. 25. The Blue Devils dropped off after losing to Long Beach State in five sets last weekend. On media day, Bechard said Duke wasn't an opponent to overlook.
“Duke has been [the] top one or two in the ACC for the last four or five years as a top 20 team,” Bechard said.
Kansas’ lone match on Saturday, Sept. 5, is against UMKC (2-1). On media day, Bechard said he was impressed with coach Christi Posey and her team's work at UMKC.
“They won their conference last year. They have everybody back," he said. "I know they feel that they’re going to have another breakthrough season for them.”
Several of the opposing players are from the state of Kansas. Each of the teams has at least one athlete from the Sunflower State.
Western Illinois sophomore middle blocker/right side hitter Emilee Dechant hails from Hutchinson.
Duke has three players that are from Kansas. Sophomore middle blocker Anna Kropf and freshman defensive specialist Kelli Kalinoski hail from Overland Park. Junior middle blocker Jordan Tucker is from Prairie Village.
UMKC has a veteran roster full of Kansas natives. Senior defensive specialist Lindsay Zych is from Lenexa. Redshirt senior right side hitter Sydney Crimmins hails from Clay Center. Senior outside hitter Jessica Hendin is from Overland Park. Senior middle hitter Skyler Muff is from Pittsburg. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Audrey Grant comes from Wichita.
— Edited by Abigail Stuke