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Kansas volleyball the latest KU team to head overseas for summer tour

Jayhawks will play 6 matches and visit 4 countries during the next 2 weeks

3 min read
The Kansas volleyball team, pictured in uniform after their exhibition opener in Budapest, Hungary, poses for a photo with their opponent after a 3-1 KU victory. [Kansas Athletics photo]

Last summer, it was the KU men’s basketball team in Puerto Rico and the KU women’s hoops squad in Italy and Greece.

This summer — right now, in fact — it’s the Kansas volleyball team that is enjoying an overseas exhibition trip to Europe.

Just like those basketball adventures, this trip is about far more than sightseeing and a chance to experience new cultures. Both of those elements are important parts of the journey, but so, too, is the chance for Ray Bechard’s volleyball team to get a little extra time together — on and off the court — in preparation for the 2024 season.

“I think it’s unique when you have a chance to get your whole roster together over an 11-day period where you get to compete five or six times,” Bechard said in a press release announcing the trip. “This opportunity is something we’ll take full advantage of, not only from the volleyball side of it but from the connection side of it.”

KU will travel to four countries and play six exhibition matches between now and June 3. They left Wednesday and arrived in Budapest, Hungary, where they will play two of their six matches.

The first match came earlier today — at night for the Jayhawks — and they knocked off Vasas Obuda in four sets, with everyone on the trip getting into the four-set match. The Jayhawks will play Vasas Obuda for the second consecutive day on Saturday.

After that, they’ll travel to Maribor, Slovenia for back-to-back matches on May 28 and 29 against a Slovenian U20 team and club team Mladost Zagreb.

They’ll close out the trip in Italy, with a match against B1 Volley Modena in Modena, Italy on May 31 and the finale against the Italian Federation Team in Milan, Italy on June 2.

KU will also spend some time in Austria on the multi-country road trip and was briefly in Germany to get things started.

“I’m so excited for our foreign tour because we are getting to travel the world together and play volleyball,” senior setter Camryn Turner said in a release. “I can’t think of anything better than that.”

Added KU veteran Caroline Bien: “I couldn’t be more excited to travel and experience new places with the team – especially with all of our newcomers. This is such an awesome opportunity for us, and for most of us, this is our first time in Europe, so I’m looking forward to seeing new places, experiencing different cultures, and eating lots of local food.”

That idea of welcoming the newcomers with this kind of experience is not something you can put a price on. Not only do the newest Jayhawks — freshmen and transfers — get exposed to what KU volleyball is all about, but they also get extra time to get comfortable with the KU veterans and coaching staff.

“We had a great first day, which started by us landing in Frankfurt, Germany for a couple of hours,” freshman Heidi Devers said in a KU release after their arrival. “We walked around Wiesbaden, a town outside Frankfurt, to sightsee, shop and eat. Our tour guide was very helpful along the way as she pointed out numerous landmarks, and we were all impressed by the unique buildings we saw. We then flew to Budapest, Hungary and had a delicious team dinner to end our day.”

Added KU senior London Davis: “I could not think of a better way to kick off my senior year than a European tour.”

The Jayhawks will enter the 2024 season with high expectations after earning a No. 4 seed and the opportunity to host in last year’s NCAA Tournament while finishing 24-6 overall and in second place in the Big 12 Conference at 14-4 in Big 12 play.

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