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Monday, November 30, 2015

KU’s Bechard named top Big 12 coach

Kansas University Volleyball coach Ray Bechard signals to his team against West Virgina on Oct. 3 at the Horejsi Center. On Monday Bechard, who led the Jayhawks to a 26-2 record and No. 9 national ranking, was named Big 12 Coach of the Year.

Kansas University Volleyball coach Ray Bechard signals to his team against West Virgina on Oct. 3 at the Horejsi Center. On Monday Bechard, who led the Jayhawks to a 26-2 record and No. 9 national ranking, was named Big 12 Coach of the Year.

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Kansas University’s volleyball team topped off the best season in program history with six postseason Big 12 honors, including head coach Ray Bechard being named coach of the year and sophomore Ainise Havili being selected as setter of the year.

In addition, three Jayhawks — Havili, sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne, and junior middle blocker Tayler Soucie, were named to the all-conference first team.

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Kansas sophomore Ainise Havili makes a set against Texas on Nov. 11 at the Horejsi Center. Havili was named Big 12 Setter of the Year on Monday.

Havili is the second Jayhawk to win the setter of the year honor.

Her 12.33 assists per set topped the league in Big 12-only matches, while her 12.36 average in overall matches ranked second nationally.

Havili recorded 16 matches this season with 40 or more assists, including four with 50-plus. The Fort Worth, Texas, native was a two-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week and was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team last season.

Bechard collected conference coach of the year honors for the third time in the last four years.

Bechard, in his 18th year at KU, led the Jayhawks to a 26-2 overall mark and 14-2 Big 12 finish. The Jayhawks’ .929 winning percentage and 19-0 start are the best in program history. Kansas ended the regular season with a program-record .312 hitting percentage, which ranks fourth nationally, and a program-record 15.4 kills per set, which ranks second nationally.

The Jayhawks have been ranked in the top 10 for eight-straight weeks with an NCAA RPI in the top 10 all season.

Bechard reached 300 wins this season and takes 320 victories into the NCAA tournament, where the Jayhawks have a No. 9 national seed.

Payne enters postseason play as the Big 12’s leader in kills per set (4.32). She is the only player in the country to rank top-50 in both hitting percentage, 32nd, and kills per set, 26th.

Havili and Payne are two of seven unanimous first-team selections.

Soucie recorded 100 blocks for third consecutive season, moving up to sixth on KU’s career blocks list as a junior with 373.

Sophomore outside hitter Madison Rigdon was named All-Big 12 Second Team.

Kansas faces Furman in the first round of the NCAA tournament at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Horejsi Center.

Amy Neal of Texas was named Big 12 Player of the Year, while Iowa State’s Caitlin Nolan and Jess Schaben were named Big 12 Libero of the Year and Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

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