Kansas Jayhawks volleyball team nets Top 25 ranking in preseason coaches poll

·3 min read
Allison Long/along@kcstar.com

Kansas’ volleyball team, which reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 a year ago, has been ranked No. 23 in the America Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top 25 preseason coaches’ poll, the NCAA announced Monday.

Nebraska received 24 first-place votes and earned the top spot in the poll with 1,538 total points. Texas, which netted 27 first-place votes was second at 1,528 points. Wisconsin (12 firsts, 1,439 points) placed third and Louisville (one first, 1,317 points) was fourth.

Minnesota was ranked fifth, followed by Pittsburgh, Ohio State, Washington, Georgia Tech, BYU, Kentucky, UCLA, Purdue, Stanford, Florida, Baylor, Illinois, Creighton, Oregon, Penn State, Western Kentucky, Utah, KU, USC and San Diego.

Missouri, Kansas State and Wichita State were not ranked. Teams receiving votes: Washington State, Miami (Florida), Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina, Pepperdine, Central Florida, Mississippi State, Rice, Hawaii, Florida State, Marquette, Ball State, Dayton, South Alabama and Texas State.

KU, which finished No 19 in last year’s coaches poll, went 18-12 overall and 8-8 in Big 12 matches a year ago. KU reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2015. In the NCAAs, KU defeated No. 19 Oregon and No. 14 Creighton then lost to No. 3 Pitt.

Caroline Bien, a 6-foot sophomore from Saint Thomas Aquinas, is the reigning Big 12 and AVCA Midwest Region freshman of the year. She earned AVCA All-America honorable mention honors one year ago.

KU will open the season Friday in an exhibition match against Drake at 6:30 p.m. at KU’s Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena. KU will open the regular season against Utah Valley on Aug. 26 in Salt Lake City.

Jersey retirements scheduled for Sept 17

KU will retire the jerseys of Ainise Havili and Kelsie Payne, two members of the Jayhawks’ 2015 Final Four team and 2016 Big 12 championship team, after a 2:30 p.m., home match against Omaha on Sept. 17, coach Ray Bechard announced.

Havili (2014-2017) was a three-time All-American and back-to-back Big 12 setter of the year. A native of Fort Worth, Texas now a volunteer assistant coach at Purdue, Havili totaled 5,255 assists, most of any player in KU history. She also averaged 11.35 assists per set, which is second in Jayhawk history and she holds the No 1 spot in double-doubles in a career with 63.

Payne, a native of Austin, Texas, was a two-time AVCA first team All-America selection and the 2016 Big 12 Player of the Year. She holds KU records for career hitting percentage (.334), career kills (1,510 kills) and kills per set (3.63).

Payne plays for a professional volleyball team in Ankara, Turkey.

AVCA Preseason Poll

1. Nebraska (24 firsts) 1,538 points

2. Texas (27) 1,528

3. Wisconsin (12) 1,439

4. Louisville (1) 1,317

5. Minnesota 1,251

6. Pittsburgh 1,222

7. Ohio State 1,114

8. Washington 1,102

9. Georgia Tech 1,034

10. BYU 1,009

11. Kentucky 890

12. UCLA 791

13. Purdue 783

14. Stanford 755

15. Florida 733

16. Baylor 645

17. Illinois 504

18. Creighton 477

19. Oregon 392

20. Penn State 331

21. Western Kentucky 280

22. Utah 254

23. Kansas 219

24. USC 187

25. San Diego 154.

Others receiving votes and listed on two or more ballots: Washington State 104; Miami (FL) 101; Tennessee 83; Michigan 66; North Carolina 66; Pepperdine 60; UCF 55; Mississippi State 51; Rice 50; Hawai’i 48; Florida State 43; Marquette 40; Ball State 18; Dayton 14; South Alabama 5; Texas State 3.

x-9 teams mentioned on one ballot for a total of 44 combined points.