It was already a season to remember for Ray Bechard and his Kansas University volleyball team. Saturday night in San Diego, the magical season went up another notch.
The Jayhawks, led by the former Barton volleyball coach, knocked off the top-seeded team in the NCAA tournament late Saturday to make it to the National Semifinals for the first time in school history. The regional final win over top-seeded Southern California was the farthest any Kansas team had ever gone.
Kansas won the first two sets against USC then after intermission, lost the next two. Kansas fell behind the in the fifth set before scoring the final six points of the match to win and advance to Omaha this weekend.
In the end, Kansas won 25-18, 25-21, 22-25, 19-25, 15-13.
For Coach Bechard it won’t be his first time in the national semifinals. While guiding the Barton volleyball team, he led the Cougars to that level placing third at the NJCAA level.
Now in his 18th season at Kansas, he guides KU to its first Final Four.
Kansas controlled the first two sets and had its chances in the third set. But Southern Cal looked to be on track leading the entire fourth set on the way to an easy win. The Trojans were very much in control of the fifth set as well.
USC jumped to an early 4-0 lead in the fifth set and were in command of the set up to a 13-9 lead. But the resilient Jayhawks wouldn’t go away.
Kansas battled back to tie the game at 13-all, earned a match point then on a point that seemed like it took forever, finally put the hammer down to score cap off a 6-0 finish and advance to Omaha.
Kansas was the No. 9 seed in the tournament and improved to 30-2 on the season. The only two losses for the Jayhawks are to the tournament’s No. 3 seed Texas Longhorns – also among the final four teams left.
Kansas will battle No. 4 seeded Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are 30-4 on the season. First serve is set for 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Century Link Center. The other semifinal will pit No. 2 seeded Minnesota (30-4) and No. 3 Texas (29-2) at 6 p.m.
The games can be seen on ESPN 2.
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