Thursday, September 22, 2016

Freshman trio helps Kansas execute volleyball sweep of Oklahoma

Kansas freshman Jada Burse (4) aims an attack past freshman Zoe Hill in the team's preseason scrimmage that was free and open to the public on Saturday, August 20th. The team will play its first match at home on Sept. 2 against Chicago State in the KU Invitational.

Kansas freshman Jada Burse (4) aims an attack past freshman Zoe Hill in the team's preseason scrimmage that was free and open to the public on Saturday, August 20th. The team will play its first match at home on Sept. 2 against Chicago State in the KU Invitational.


A trio of freshmen contributed big moments in their Big 12 volleyball debuts Wednesday night at Horejsi Center and helped Kansas to sweep Oklahoma, 25-17, 25-13, 29-27.

For Patricia Montero of Ponce, Puerto Rico, her big moment was the final one of the night, a kill that ended the third-set tension and triggered an ovation from the customary sellout.

Long before that, high-flying Jada Burse of DeSoto, Texas, supplied plenty of thrills and eight kills with just one error. Zoe Hill of Houston added five kills and had one error.

“It was super exciting,” Burse said. “I was kind of nervous at first, but my teammates helped me get rid of that.”

The freshmen all have encountered mixed results in trying to blend in with a veteran core that returned from KU’s first Final Four run. Their big nights came at a good time considering the eighth-ranked Jayhawks (12-1) head to Austin for a Saturday night match against No. 5 Texas (8-2) and will need sharp performances from veterans and young talents alike.

Burse’s potential screamed the loudest of the first-year players Wednesday night. Her explosive leaping ability was on display and the atmosphere appeared to propel her to even greater heights than usual.

“The adrenaline and the band helps me a lot,” Burse said. “I love music, so I love the band. It’s probably my favorite part about playing on our home court.”

She shares that opinion with band members, “all the time.”

Montero found herself in unfamiliar territory with the match on the line.

“We ran out of subs so they told me I needed to play the front row,” she said.

Having starred for Puerto Rico’s U18 national team, Montero is accustomed to playing in big matches, but this was different.

“When you’re playing international you don’t have fans and crowded arenas,” Montero said. “You have to find the momentum on your own. So here the fans help a lot because it is so full of energy. It’s fun.”

Montero's night featured ups and downs, but Burse mostly experienced ups, as in way up above the net.

“Jada is amazing,” Montero said of Burse. “She can really hit.”

So can senior Tayler Soucie and junior Madison Ridgon, both of whom had 10 kills and one error on a night Kelsie Payne wasn’t at her best (nine kills, eight errors.)

Kansas coach Ray Bechard praised the play of Burse and didn’t stop there when talking about the freshman class.

“Zoe Hill had some opportune swings and it reminded me a little bit of Janae Hall last year when Ainise (Havili) would find her at key moments when the other team was probably thinking about someone else,” Bechard said.

Much of KU’s best work came inches from the floor, where standout senior libero Cassie Wait found herself making spectacular plays. Wait, so quick and intuitive, contributed 23 digs.

“Defensively, I thought it was probably our best effort of the year,” Bechard said. “Most important stat of the match: They came in hitting .285. We held them to .092, a team that’s got a ton of weapons, so first and foremost, I thought that was the key to our match. Our goal is to hold teams under .200, so to hold them under .100 speaks volumes of Cassie Wait, some opportune blocks by Tayler Soucie and just enough kills.”

The Sooners took a 9-1 record into a tournament in Los Angeles last weekend and have lost four consecutive matches.


Lonnie Ross Dillon 3 years, 8 months ago

LJW should be ashamed of the coverage for this team. Top 10 (were #4) and the paper can't even run an article letting folks know they'd be on TV this afternoon. Had to watch it on my ESPN App. And not even posting a score for HOURS. You know, there's this thing called the internet...information should be much easier to get.

As for the gals, they played great. I loved the grit they showed in the 3rd set when the faced match point against them (Twice I believe). Awesome start to conference play.

Bobby Nightengale 3 years, 8 months ago

Hi Lonnie,

We listed that Wednesday's match would be on ESPNU on page 2 of the sports section under Sports on TV.

-- Bobby Nightengale

Matt Tait 3 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for the feedback, Lonnie. Always appreciated.

However, rather than being ashamed of our coverage, I'm actually pretty proud of the fact that we were one of the only papers there to cover this match and that we continually have stories, features, results and columns about volleyball throughout their season and have plans for more to come.

We've received great feedback from the volleyball program and folks at KU for our volleyball coverage and will, of course, always continue to try to find ways to deliver more to this incredible and deserving team that is among the best in the county and a blast to watch.

Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts. And be on the look out for much more volleyball coverage from all of us here at throughout the season.

-- Matt Tait

Gerry Butler 3 years, 8 months ago

Agree Lonnie, these ladies deserve MORE. Way to go Ladies, great start, now time to get focused on a huge contest this weekend - -need to really pullu together come out strong and Show Texas that they don't own this league ANYMORE. Godd to see the younger ladies contributing to the team, just shows we have a great future still. This team isn't going anywhere just going to keep getting better and better all the way. Oh and yes you think you might be able to tell us if the KU - Tex match will be televised anywhere - Other then the Longhorn network - I'm sure they will cover it. - - Great Job ladies. - -ROCK CHALK ALL DAY LONG BABY

Andy Godwin 3 years, 8 months ago

Great win. Glad to see the freshman contributing in a major way. Now time to get the perennial monkey off KU's back and beat Texas.

Doug Cramer 3 years, 8 months ago

Frosh Mostrom is good too.

I coached her brother Jordi in baseball for 3 seasons.

Got some great young talent that will KU volleyball ranked nationally the next few years.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 8 months ago

Thank you LJW for the great coverage of KU sports in general and this much appreciated article about the future of the program producing today. I know I've previously commented about incomplete track and field results but it is still worth noting that you do provide so much more coverage of non-revenue sports. Someday the seating and everything will catch up to how good the program has become. In the meantime it's encouraging to hear just how strong the program has become.

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