The last time Kansas played Furman, less was at stake. The Paladins came to town in 2000 for the Jayhawk Classic. But this time around, it meant more — it meant everything.
If No. 9 Kansas (27-2) won, it would avenge the first round loss from last season. If Kansas won, senior outside hitter Tiana Dockery would be the first Kansas volleyball player to eclipse 100 career wins. If Kansas won, it'd be squared up with Missouri for the first time since the Tigers left for the SEC.
The "ifs" became reality as senior outside hitter Ashlyn Driskill and sophomore middle blocker Kayla Cheadle went up for the block, forcing Furman senior middle blocker Amelia Bohlander to commit an attack error. Kansas swept Furman in three sets (25-14, 25-21, 25-17).
"That was a lot of fun," coach Ray Bechard said. "We've played in Horejsi a number of times, but they'll probably tell you it feels a little bit different when it's an NCAA-Tournament-type setting."
Kansas' match against Furman was the second NCAA Tournament game to be played in Horejsi Family Athletic Center. The first came a few hours earlier with the game that pitted Missouri and Missouri State against one another.
The match against Furman was the 12th NCAA Tournament volleyball game for Kansas and its sixth NCAA Tournament win in program history.
"I'm excited that we're moving on," Bechard said. "Obviously we have a lot of work to do tomorrow night, but we'll be ready to do that."
But so far, the fourth-straight NCAA Tournament for the Jayhawks has gone swimmingly, for the most part. Kansas sweep over Furman was its first postseason sweep since the Jayhawks first postseason match ever, when the Jayhawks defeated Long Beach State in 2003. Kansas was defeated in the second round that season.
But this year's team has its eye on a bigger prize: the Sweet 16. Only once has a Kansas team advanced that far — 2013. And there's a big monster in the way: Missouri.
"Now we need to play our game from here on out no matter what," Dockery said. "I feel like we will probably be focused on our side more, play more in our game, because if we think too much about how they're playing it kind of loses focus a little bit, but I think we will come together as a team and play our game because Mizzou is obviously going to play their game."
No. 9 Kansas continues its unprecedented season as it faces Missouri at 7:30 p.m. in Horejsi Friday, Dec. 4.