LAWRENCE, Kansas – Captured in an exciting improbable fifth set comeback, former Barton Community College volleyball coach Ray Bechard has led the University of Kansas Volleyball team to a berth in the NCAA Championship Semifinal. Making its first ever Regional finals appearance in KU volleyball history, the No. 9 ranked Jayhawks erased a 13-9 fifth set deficit Saturday night in San Diego, California, with sixth straight points upsetting the No. 1 ranked University of Southern California Trojans 25-18, 25-21, 22-25, 19-25, and 15-13. KU, now 30-2 on the season, extends its unprecedented season traveling to Omaha, Nebraska, for a final four matchup with No. 4 University of Nebraska on Thursday, December 17.
Inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Barton Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002, Bechard awoke a proud Cougar Volleyball program turning Barton into a national powerhouse in his thirteen years at the helm. Winning 716 matches against only 60 losses for a staggering .923 winning percentage, Barton won the Jayhawk West title every year under Bechard and captured the Region VI crown in all but one season. In the team’s twelve NJCAA appearances, the Cougars never finished lower than fifth nationally finishing in the fifth spot twice, fourth place six times, third place three times, and a national runner-up finish in 1989
Bechard and his Cougars had eight seasons of more than 55 wins with winning streaks of 59, 58, and 57 games during his time at Barton. He also led Barton to three more winning streaks that reached into 30’s.
A Grinnell, Kansas, native, Bechard was also a member of the 1976-78 Barton men’s basketball team helping to lead the Cougars to its first ever KJCCC West Division title in the 1976-77 season.
After leaving Barton, Coach Bechard became the head volleyball coach at KU where he is now in his 18th season being named the Big 12’s Coach of the Year for the third time in the last four years taking the program to new heights establishing himself as the program’s winningest and longest-serving coach.