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A stellar sendoff for a longtime Kansas coaching institution

4 min read

Every week we take a look back at the performances by KU athletes that were above and beyond.

From football to volleyball, cross-country, and all across the athletic department, we'll break down the best of the best in the world of Kansas athletics.

Performance #1: Kansas soccer

Background: Kansas closed out the 2023 season with a win in the Sunflower Showdown on Oct. 23 in Lawrence.

What Happened: The Jayhawks finished off their regular season against the Kansas State Wildcats. Kansas got on the scoreboard quickly as junior midfielder Raena Childers scored her third goal of the season 09:28 into the game. Senior defender Mackenzie Boeve and senior forward Shira Elinav assisted on the goal, earning them both their first assists of the season.

Freshman forward Jocelyn Herrema added a point for the Jayhawks with just under 15 minutes remaining in the game. Herrema stole a pass deep in K-State territory, beat a defender and found the back of the net to push the score to 2-0 Kansas.

Herrema’s first goal of her season proved to be the game winner, as Kansas State’s Khaliana Garrett launched the Wildcats’ lone goal into the back of the net 89:49 into the match.

Why it’s so Great: The Jayhawks season hasn’t gone according to plan, finishing with a 4-8-6 record to end the year. Despite the sub-.500 record, Kansas won its first match in almost two months, dating back to Aug. 31 in a 3-0 victory with Arkansas State.

The Jayhawks were 0-7-2 in Big 12 Conference play prior to defeating the Wildcats on Monday. Kansas scored just three goals in nine matches with Big 12 opponents, and the Jayhawks ended their season with two goals against their in-state rival.

All of it proved to be the perfect sendoff for KU coach Mark Francis, who announced his retirement on Tuesday after 25 years in charge of the KU soccer program.

Performance #2: Toyosi Onabanjo

Background: Kansas volleyball’s junior middle blocker Toyosi Onabanjo, previously coming off of a 4-kill performance against the Oklahoma Sooners at home.

What Happened: The Jayhawks traveled to Fort Worth, Texas to take on the TCU Horned Frogs on Oct. 22, where Kansas took a 3-1 match victory. After dropping the first set 25-18, the Jayhawks cruised through the next three sets for their 14th victory in 18 matches.

Onabanjo had herself a day en route to the 3-1 win. Onabanjo tallied 10 kills in the match in just 17 attacks, an impressive .412 hitting percentage. She finished with just three attack errors, racking up kills on almost every attack at the net. Onabanjo made her presence felt at the net all day long, adding five block assists to her stat line.

Why it’s so Great: The Kansas Jayhawks are on a roll right now, winning five of their last seven matches, with those two matches coming at the hands of the No. 5-ranked Texas Longhorns. No. 14 Kansas sits at 14-4 on the season and shows no signs of slowing down, and Onabanjo is a huge reason why.

Since joining the Jayhawks and transferring from Iowa this season, Onabanjo is fourth on the team in total kills with 132 kills in 60 sets. Onabanjo is averaging 2.1 kills per set, all while converting her attacks at a .310 hitting percentage. Averaging a block per set along with her .310 hitting percentage makes Onabanjo a valuable asset for the Jayhawks as they look ahead to the postseason.

Performance #3: Gunnar Broin and Will King

Background: Kansas men’s golf competed in the Fallen Oak Invitational from Oct. 15-17, where the team placed 5th of 12 competing teams.

What Happened: Senior Gunnar Broin and sophomore Will King led the Jayhawks in individual performances during the Fallen Oak Invitational. Both Broin and King finished among the top 20 golfers in the Invitational.

Broin led all Jayhawks as he tied for 16th in the Invitational, finishing one over par. Broin shot one under par (71) in the first round, followed by two-straight rounds of one over par (73) to finish.

King finished just behind Broin on the leaderboard, taking 19th out of 72 golfers in the Invitational. King finished +2, starting one over par in his first round, followed by a six-over (78) in the second round. He ended the third round strong with a five-under (67) to catapult him inside the Top-20.

Why it’s so Great: After coming off a 10th place finish in Big 12 Conference Match Play, the Jayhawks bounced back at the Fallen Oaks Invitational. Broin notched his second top-20 finish of his career, while King earned the fourth top-20 finish of his career.

Broin and King led the Jayhawks to their second-best finish of the season to date, behind only a 3rd-place finish at the Gopher Invitational back on Sept. 10-11. It marked the Jayhawks’ second Top 10 finish of the season.

Next up, Kansas travels to Maui, Hawaii to compete in the Ka’anapali Classic on Oct. 26, where the Jayhawks shot 22-under par at last year’s event.

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