In the weeks and months following their run to the 2012 NCAA Tournament and the best season in school history, the members of Kansas University’s volleyball team began to notice a change in the way they were received by the public.
Waves and smiles replaced anonymity, praise became more common, and fans, of KU and volleyball in general, began to shower KU’s top players with treatment worthy of one of the top-ranked teams in the country.
“Around town, when we say we’re on the volleyball team, people always tell us how they go to the games and have so much fun,” senior setter Erin McNorton said. “That’s really cool.”
It’s not just around town where the Jayhawks — who will open NCAA Tournament play in Allen Fieldhouse for the second year in a row at 6:30 p.m. Friday — have experienced a spike in popularity.
“We get recognized more, when we’re out, especially,” senior libero Brianne Riley said. “And we’ve all noticed that our Twitter followers and Instagram followers have gone up. But it’s cool getting the recognition, and that makes us work harder and makes all that we put into feel like it’s worth it.”
For those who may know the story of this team’s success but not the players themselves, here’s a quick glance at every player on the team:
1 Chelsea Albers,
Hometown: Papillion, Neb.
Favorite Athlete: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers.
Favorite Moment This Season: The win at Iowa State (Nov. 20). “We hadn’t won there and that’s a tough environment. Winning that game, we took over second place so we kind of took care of two bits of history in one.”
19 Maggie Anderson, Setter
Year: Red-shirt Freshman
Hometown: Lincoln, Neb.
Favorite Athlete: Adam Anderson, one of two older brothers who played college baseball.
Favorite Moment This Season: “After beating Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, on Nov. 20, we shared a moment with coach (Ray) Bechard, and he sincerely told us how proud of us he was.”
20 Catherine Carmichael,
Favorite Athlete: Jackie Carmichael, older brother who plays professional basketball in Spain.
Favorite Moment This Season: Senior Chelsea Albers checking into a recent match and slipping and falling on her butt. “In those times when the game is a little stressful, you need things like that to lighten the mood.”
7 Tiana Dockery,
Hometown: Richmond, Texas
Favorite Athlete: LeBron James, Miami Heat
Favorite Moment This Season: When everybody on the team came in to practice dressed for Halloween. “That was just the best moment. The coaches had no idea, and everybody just had a ton of fun.” She dressed as a track star.
16 Janae Hall,
Year: Red-shirt Freshman
Hometown: Centennial, Colo.
Favorite Athlete: Ken Griffey Jr., who also is a family friend.
Favorite Moment This Season: Tradition of going to get Dairy Queen treats with red-shirt freshman teammate Maggie Anderson the night before games.
6 Emma Hanson,
Hometown: Sioux Falls, S.D.
Favorite Athlete: Becky Hammond, San Antonio Silver Stars
Favorite Moment This Season: When she dressed up as coach Bechard for Halloween.
9 Caroline Jarmoc, Middle Blocker
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta
Favorite Athlete: Usain Bolt, Jamaican sprinter
Favorite Moment This Season: Victory against Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., on Sept. 13. “I remember were down two sets, and we came all the way back, and we were celebrating like crazy when it was over. That was pretty awesome.”
14 Jaime Mathieu,
Hometown: St. Louis
Favorite Athlete: Brett Hull, former NHL all star.
Favorite Moment This Season: The win at Iowa State on Nov. 20 because it’s such a tough place to play and coming home with a victory was just ridiculous.
4 Sara McClinton,
Hometown: Omaha, Neb.
Favorite Athlete: Destiny Hooker, former Texas Longhorn and member of Team USA volleyball
Favorite Moment This Season: Another vote for the Halloween practice more because of her costume. “I dressed up like our strength-and-conditioning coach, Luke Bradford, so I had a beard on, I had some crazy eyebrows, and I was the first one out of the locker room and mimicked what he puts us through every day.”
17 Erin McNorton,
Favorite Athlete: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks. “It used to be (former Texas Rangers slugger) Josh Hamilton and then he betrayed us.”
Favorite Moment This Season: Coming back and beating Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., on Sept. 13 after trailing two sets to none.
3 Brianne Riley, Libero
Hometown: Naperville, Ill.
Favorite Athlete: Danny Riley, younger brother who is a senior catcher at Naperville (Ill.) North High.
Favorite Moment This Season: The Halloween surprise when the entire team showed up to practice dressed in costume. “I had a bath robe on with a shower cap and a bunch of rubber duckies.”
10 Tayler Soucie,
Favorite Athlete: Jordan Larson, Team USA volleyball
Favorite Moment This Season: Seeing the little girls from her hometown club volleyball team come to a match to cheer on the Jayhawks.
5 Cassie Wait, Libero/Defensive Specialist
Favorite Athlete: Kyle Wait, pole vaulter at Kansas State
Favorite Moment This Season: Getting entire family to wear KU shirts to the match against Kansas State in Manhattan. “It was a pretty big deal because both of my parents are K-State grads, and my brother goes there, the whole shebang.”
12 Amy Wehrs,
Hometown: Hampshire, Ill.
Favorite Athlete: Brian Urlacher, former Chicago Bears linebacker.
Favorite Moment This Season: “Senior night just because I’m a senior, and I really felt the love from everybody. It’s a moment that I’m always going to remember.”
2 Kara Wehrs, Setter
Hometown: Hampshire, Ill.
Favorite Athlete: Brian Urlacher, former Chicago Bears linebacker
Favorite Moment This Season: Senior night. “It was just a great time getting to play with all the girls that I came in with.”