Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

KU Volleyball Wants to Show It Has Staying Power

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

KU Volleyball Wants to Show It Has Staying Power

Article excerpt

LAWRENCE -- Before last season, Kansas volleyball coach Ray Bechard stated his preseason goal was for his program to go from being successful to significant.

Following a Sweet 16 appearance and the team's second consecutive NCAA berth, Bechard is setting the bar even higher in 2014.

"We want that momentum to turn into volleyball culture, and that volleyball culture to turn into a volleyball tradition," Bechard said. "This is a group that can certainly do that."

If KU is to maintain its status as one of the nation's premier programs, it'll do so while replacing three key seniors from a year ago -- third-team All-America selection Caroline Jarmoc, All-Big 12 first-teamer Erin McNorton and KU's all-time digs leader, Brianne Riley.

There's still plenty of talent returning, though. Outside hitters Chelsea Albers and Sara McClinton both earned first-team all- conference nods last year, while middle blocker Tayler Soucie was named to the Big 12's all-freshman team.

Thanks to those players -- and a seven-person recruiting class considered one of Bechard's best in his 17 years with the school -- the Jayhawks are getting plenty of respect. The Big 12 coaches voted them second in the preseason poll, the highest selection in KU's history.

"We've got a lot of new faces," Bechard said, "but the expectations can stay the same."

Albers, who had seven double-doubles a year ago, said it was important for KU to show it could maintain its success. The model, she said, was the men's basketball team, which has consistently competed for championships each season.

"We don't want to be an off-and-on team," Albers said. "We don't want to go a couple years and make the tournament, then have a couple five-year spans without making it.

"I think the direction this program is going, I think that we're very capable of improving ourselves every year. …

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