LAWRENCE (KSNT) – Kansas volleyball is looking to build off an impressive 2021 season that ended with an NCAA tournament Sweet 16 run.

The Jayhawks are off to a blazing hot start in 2022. They’re 6-0 and have only dropped one set in those six matches. K-Nation gave viewers an inside look at the team on Sunday night.

“Last year’s team handed us the baton,” KU head volleyball coach Ray Bechard said. “Now we got to take it and kind of run our own race.”

Bechard is in his 25th season leading KU volleyball. His players this year are hungry for more success.

“[Our goal is] definitely a Big 12 Championship,” sophomore outside hitter/ libero Caroline Bien said. “Top 3 in the Big 12 is always something that we want to achieve.”

The Topeka native and Seaman High School grad agrees.

“Getting further than we did in the tournament last year and fighting for that title in the Big 12 is something we all have our eyes on,” sophomore setter Camryn Turner said.

It’s a year of balance for Kansas volleyball. They’ll look to balance two things. The first of those things is experience and youth.

“We were very young last year,” Bechard said. “And when those freshman become sophomores become juniors certainly we’re reliant on that experience to help us, too.”

The second balancing act they’ll deliver is between fun and business.

“Oh there’s a lot of fun to be had with this group,” Bechard. “I think they know when they need to turn it on.”

“I don’t know how we do it but we know the line between like goofing around and like having fun, like enjoying what we’re doing,” Turner said. “I feel like we know when to snap back into it if we are getting a little too goofy or whatever. Because we all do get along, really, a little too well.”

They’ll have to fill the hole of Caroline Crawford, who transferred to Wisconsin after playing a huge role in last year’s success. Luckily for the Jayhawks that portal goes both ways.

“Lauren Dooley, a grad transfer from the University of Florida, has done a great job filling the gap that we have there,” Bechard said. “Amongst others who have matured.”

Winning is fun. Winning with local talent is even better. Nine of the 19 players on this year’s KU volleyball roster are from Kansas.

“That’s where we’re always going to start with our recruitment,” Bechard said.

“It means a lot to have like a lot of hometown people, a lot of fans, a lot of family in the stands,” Bien said.

Given last year’s success and this year’s start, it’s safe to assume this is a confident group.

“I think we’re all really confident,” Bien said. “We’ve trained all summer. We’ve worked really hard. I think it’s kind of starting to pay off and play out for us.”