Kansas Takes Second Sweep, Downs UT-Martin, 3-0

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A close third set made for an exciting finish as the Kansas volleyball team continued its run at the Arkansas Invitational at Barnhill Arena with a sweep of Tennessee-Martin, Saturday afternoon, 25-19, 25-17, 25-23.

Kansas (2-0) received another balanced effort from its offense against Tennessee-Martin (0-2) in the Jayhawks’ first-ever meeting with the Ohio Valley foe. Redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc led with 13 kills, giving her 25 in the first two matches, while four more Jayhawks racked up nine apiece.

The Jayhawks will look to go 3-0 for the third-straight season in the tournament’s title match against Arkansas (2-0) at 7 p.m.

Showing off its extended skill set, KU utilized multiple scoring options on day two of the season. The Jayhawk blocking staff played a vital role, outblocking the Skyhawks, 9-5, racking up five in the first set alone. Senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree set the pace with six blocks, while redshirt junior Catherine Carmichael tied a career high with three. From the serving line, KU finished the match with six aces, including two each from junior Erin McNorton and senior Morgan Boub.

For the second-straight match, McNorton posted a career-high assist effort as the starting setter. She dished out 43 assists, connecting well with her middles – Tolefree and Jarmoc combined for 22 kills – as well as the outsides.

Head coach Ray Bechard switched up the starting lineup from the season opener, mixing it up with sophomore Sara McClinton on the outside and senior Morgan Boub on the back row at defensive specialist. McClinton ran with the opportunity, going a perfect 5-for-5 in the first set and nine by the end of the match. Fellow sophomore Chelsea Albers and Carmichael also dropped in nine kills.

As a team, Kansas hit for an effective .292 attack percentage with Jarmoc leading the way at a .526 mark (13-for-19). Tolefree followed a career-high tying .700 attack percentage on Friday night with a .412 performance (9-for-17) on Saturday.

In the opening frame, the Jayhawks took the early 5-2 lead with back-to-back blocks before the Skyhawks used an ace from Amanda Crask to spark the rally that saw Kansas face its first deficit of the weekend. Refocusing, Kansas kept the UTM advantage to a single point and reclaimed the lead as Albers and McClinton connected for a trio of kills.

At 14-11, UTM head coach Darrin McClure asked for the timeout. Unwilling to let the Jayhawks make a run, the Skyhawks kept it the set close until three-straight kills from McClinton and a textbook ace from McNorton opened a 20-16 lead. A pair of kills from Jarmoc and an attack error from across the net handed Kansas the 25-19 first set victory.

McClinton and Tolefree connected on big swings to push the Jayhawks out to a quick 6-1 lead in the second set. KU stretched the margin further, 11-5, as the Jayhawks looked to carry a quick 2-0 lead into the break. The Skyhawks, who put together a 19-14 record in 2011, came back with a 5-0 rally, cutting the Kansas advantage to a point, 11-10. Again the blocking crew stepped up as McClinton and Tolefree’s combined rejection sparked a Kansas run that kicked the team back out to a five-point edge, 16-11.

Efficiency took over from there. Kansas pounded out six kills – three from Jarmoc – in the final eight points, claiming set two, 25-17. Although trailing two sets to none, UTM came out firing in the third set and quickly took a 7-5 lead using a pair of kills from Emily Keaton. Jarmoc and McClinton fired off kills, while junior Jaime Mathieu and Boub landed the Jayhawks’ fifth and sixth service aces of the match to climb back in front.

What ensued was a back-and-forth matchup between the two, within a handful of points Bechard asked for both timeouts, the second of which followed UTM taking its biggest lead of the match, 17-14.

Out of the timeout, the Jayhawks cranked out four-straight points, highlighted by a kill and a block from Tolefree. Knotted at 22-22,the middles came through as Jarmoc and Tolefree’s kills locked up the set and the sweep, 25-23.

Friday: vs. Northwestern State, KU, 3-0 (25-12, 25-14, 25-18)
Saturday: vs. Tennessee-Martin, KU, 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-23)
Saturday: at Arkansas, 7 p.m.