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Monday, December 2, 2019

KU volleyball reflects on first season in renovated Horejsi Arena

KU volleyball plays its first match in the newly renovated Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena against Morehead State Thursday, Sept. 12.

KU volleyball plays its first match in the newly renovated Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena against Morehead State Thursday, Sept. 12.

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Right before Kansas volleyball faced off against Iowa State on Wednesday night, KU coach Ray Bechard was a little nervous about the fan turnout.

“I didn’t know with overtime in the basketball game (whether) that was going to hurt us,” Bechard said with a laugh.

But as KU men’s basketball secured a 90-84 overtime win over Dayton in the Maui Invitational final, KU volleyball settled in to its senior night match. And to quell any of Bechard’s fears, Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena was packed.

“Students are gone; you’ve got the night before Thanksgiving,” Bechard said. “There’s a lot of reasons why people might not show up. And they did.”

The Jayhawks defeated the Cyclones 3-2 Wednesday in a thrilling comeback victory as KU trailed 2-0 earlier in the match. And while the win signified a positive sendoff for the KU seniors, it also was the final match of the first season of the renovated Horejsi Arena.

As the seniors were recognized after the match, libero Jacqui Mostrom made sure to thank the raucous fan base.

“This place has such a special energy to it, and that’s all thanks to you guys who come out and support us,” Mostrom said. “It’s meant the world all these past years, so thank you so much.”

Outside hitter Ashley Smith also has appreciated the support over her career.

“It’s an honor to wear Kansas across our chests,” Smith said. “We honestly love playing in front of you guys. It’s been a long five years, but thank you for everything on this court.”

Before the first match of the season in the renovated arena — a 3-0 win over Morehead State on Sept. 12 — senior libero Allie Nelson said she was in tears. She said “this place is magic” and holds a special place in all of the players’ hearts.

While the season was a bumpy ride for KU — the Jayhawks finished 6-5 at home and 9-17 overall — Horejsi maintained that magic for Nelson, especially on Wednesday.

It’s what makes her feel so lucky and fortunate for KU to have this new home for volleyball for years to come.

“We’re so fortunate to have the donors we do and have people that want to put money into women’s volleyball,” Nelson said. “It’s huge. I love women’s athletics, so this just makes my heart literally burst at the seams.”

Another reason that Nelson has that reaction is the atmosphere created during matches, something that Bechard also pointed to as a positive this season.

“It didn’t lose its sense of intimacy,” Bechard said. “Great crowd (on Wednesday). It was rocking in here.”

Maintaining that relationship between fans and the team is something all four pointed to Wednesday night, and it is something Bechard hopes to continue building on in the new Horejsi Arena.

“It’s going to be a special place,” Bechard said. “Obviously it gave us more room — we can service more people. It’s going to be a great, great place for us for many years to come.”

Comments

Chris Condren 1 week, 4 days ago

The coach needs to kick things in gear to prove he has what it takes to sustain this program.

Bville Hawk 1 week, 3 days ago

Agree 100%, Chris. We had a nationally prominent program for several years but have fallen flat the last 2 seasons. Our rise and fall as a program coincides with the arrival and departure of our 2 previous assistant coaches, Laura "Bird" Kuhn and some guy I don't remember. It may be time for a change at the top...

David Kelley-Wood 1 week, 3 days ago

Laura "Bird" Kuhn was named Head Coach of the women's volleyball team at Texas A&M on December 30, 2017.

A&M's overall and in-conference records were 10-15 (7-11); 17-13 (10-8), and 21-7 (13-5) in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively, and they have only three seniors on their current roster.

They are hosting the first round of the NCAA Tournament beginning on December 5.

Glen Miller 1 week, 3 days ago

Big drop off from the last few years to this year....... was it just graduation of some special players? I'm glad that our volleyball team got the new digs and is being taken care of by our fans, regardless of a bad year! Hopefully they will bounce back next season, it's always good when any of our sports teams are thriving.

Layne Pierce 1 week, 3 days ago

We have gone down every year over the last 5 years. We are last or next to last in almost every statistical category {see Big12Conference.com]

Players are not being developed, and there does not seem to be a strategy to win.

Adjustments during the match, I have rarely seen any.

Featuring the talent of the best players? Not often.

Ray Bechard is well liked, so he will get another year, but seriously it has to be make or break, and I don't see that much make or this team.

RCJH

Chris Condren 1 week, 3 days ago

Giving well liked but underperforming coaches another year just digs a deeper hole. In football giving Terry Allen and David Beaty just made the job a lot tougher for the next coach. The same will be true in volleyball.

Layne Pierce 1 week ago

Don't really understand what is going on, and hope I am wrong, but the current roster 2020-21 on kuathletics is the following

Number Name Position Height Class Hometown High School 2 Rachel Langs Middle Blocker 6'3" Junior Fairview, Texas Lovejoy HS 4 Sara Nielsen Setter 5'11" Senior Glen Ellyn, Ill. Benet Academy 5 Gracie Van Driel Middle Blocker 6'1" Sophomore Rose Hill, Kan. Rose Hill HS 9 Kennedy Farris Defensive Specialist 5'7" Sophomore Leavenworth, Kan. Lansing HS 11 Riley Foltz Outside Hitter 6'0" R-Freshman Eudora, Kan. Eudora HS 15 Audri Suter Libero/Defensive Specialist 5'4" Junior Flower Mound, Texas Flower Mound HS 16 Lacey Angello Libero/Defensive Specialist 5'8" Junior Lansing, Kan.

No Camryn Ennis, no Kailie Carrier, no Rachel Hickman. Please Ray, say it ain't so.

RCJH CBHTG

Bville Hawk 4 days, 11 hours ago

Layne, if Ennis, Carrier, and Hickman are not coming back then Bechard should be fired immediately. End of story. We can't keep losing good players to transfer and compete as a team at a high level.

Layne Pierce 3 days, 21 hours ago

Bville

I hope this is just sloppy roster posting. But it is strange that those three, nor Christon, are there. But we are in total agreement, that would be too many players leaving to not have something that's not right.

The recruiting class is quite good, and they would add, but to start all over with another rebuilding cycle, that is just too much.

RCJH

Bville Hawk 1 day, 22 hours ago

Layne, An updated roster is posted on kuathletics.com this morning that includes all the newcomers. Not listed among the 16 on the roster: Ennis, Carrier, Hickman, Christon.

This makes me sick...

Layne Pierce 1 day, 20 hours ago

Totally agree, Bville. If this is accurate, this is nothing less than a complete collapse of order, and this has to be explained, if it can be. What really gripes me is the lack of transparency, we as fans have a right to know what the hell is going on. Note the way they tried to do it with Burse was that they said she was going to try out for national team, or some such bs, then she was never heard from again. Watch for that tactic.

I will never give a dime to a program that operates in such a cavalier way towards the program and towards the players.

RCJH

Layne Pierce 13 hours, 29 minutes ago

Another that gets me is how little the Journal World really covers volleyball.

RCJH

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