Kansas Sweeps Tourney Host to Win the Georgia Bulldog Invitational, 3-0

ATHENS, Ga. – Led by Tournament MVP Allison Mayfield, the University of Kansas volleyball team put together a well-balanced attack to defeat tournament host Georgia and claim the Georgia Bulldog Invitational title on Saturday evening, 25-16, 25-19, 25-14.

For the second-straight season, Kansas brought home a tournament title to jumpstart the season. Last year, the Jayhawks (3-0) swept through the Bluejay Invitational en route to their 7-0 start to the 2010 campaign. Kansas went a step further to start the 2011 campaign as all three victories came via the sweep.

“I’m really proud of the growth we showed this weekend,” head coach Ray Bechardsaid. “We were pretty disappointed with how we started , but today was a good day. I was happy to see how we were able to pressure teams today with our blocking and serves.”

As she did all weekend, Mayfield set the tone for the Kansas offense, knocking out 10 kills to lead a team effort that included eight kills apiece from middle blockers Tayler Tolefree and Caroline Jarmoc, who was named to the All-Tournament team for her monster weekend that included more than two blocks per game.

“Allison Mayfieldwas great this weekend,” Bechard said. “I thought she was so steady and she never came off the floor. She provided a lot of quality contact, but I’m also really happy with what we got out of Jarmoc and our middles. That’s the balance I want to see.”

On the defensive side, sophomore libero Brianne Rileytook home Libero of the Tournament, recognizing her all-out effort behind a front line that racked up 12 total blocks Saturday night.

“We feel like we can create some opportunities on that front defensive line,” Bechard said. “If we have some girls behind that, who will play hard and get scrappy behind that line, then our defense has the opportunity to be pretty good.”

Playing in front of a rowdy crowd for the first time all weekend, the Jayhawks looked completely unfazed as they took command of the first set. A joint blocking effort from Jarmoc and freshman outside hitter Sara McClintoncoupled with a kill from Mayfield helped the Hawks jump out to a 5-2 lead.

Mayfield followed a clean solo block by slamming a Bulldog dig back over the net, pushing the Jayhawk lead to 10-6 and causing first-year Georgia head coach Lizzie Stemke to call a timeout.

Kansas continued to surge after the quick break, using a pair of Georgia errors and a strong swing from Tolefree to strengthen its lead, 16-7.

As expected, the SEC foe found ways to rally as kills from Briana Bahr and All-Tournament Team member Kathleen Luft dipped into the Jayhawk lead, 22-15, but that’s as close as the Bulldogs would get in the opening set. With match point for Kansas looming, Stemke called another timeout for the home team. The Jayhawks didn’t budge, however, claiming the first set, 25-16.

A behind-the-back sneak attack from Jarmoc got the Jayhawks on the board to start the second set, while a more orthodox move resulted in her second kill as KU again showed continued fire in the opening points. Mayfield launched a kill and forced Stemke to call timeout as she saw her team fall behind early, 7-2.

The Bulldogs came out of the break and narrowed the gap, 9-6, but immediate Jayhawk response ensued. A kill from McClinton and an attack error on Georgia’s side sparked a mini-run for the Hawks and they surged further ahead, 15-8. Although Georgia rallied in places, Kansas controlled the pace in the second set, hitting at a .306 clip compared to UGA’s .139.

Mayfield and Tolefree rattled off three-straight kills before Tolefree chalked up a solo block, resulting in the 22-15 advantage. A hard swing from McClinton wrapped up the second set in favor of the visitors, 25-19, and KU carried a 2-0 lead into the break.

For the first time since a 1-0 deficit in the second set, Kansas briefly found itself down, 4-1, to kickoff the third. Just as quickly, KU fired back four-straight points to swing the lead back, 5-4.

A kill for McClinton, a service ace for Riley and a never-say-die defensive effort that resulted in a kill for freshman outside hitter Chelsea Albersgave the Hawks a little daylight, 13-9. A confident Jarmoc took care of a solo block as the Jayhawks continued to keep its distance from the home squad, stretching the lead to five.

With Jarmoc stepping up in the middle, the blocks kept coming. The redshirt sophomore teamed with Mayfield and then with sophomore setter Kara Wehrsfor consecutive block assists as the Jayhawks began to run away with it, 20-12.

A Tolefree kill and an ace from Kara Wehrsclosed the match in the same convincing fashion in which they started it, 25-14.

-This weekend marked the eighth time in head coach Ray Bechard’s14 years at Kansas that the Jayhawks swept their opening weekend tournament. -Dating back to last season’s sweep at Oklahoma, Kansas has won 12-straight sets.

All-Tournament Team:
#15 Allison Mayfield, Kansas, Tournament MVP
#3 Brianne Riley, Kansas, All-Tournament Libero
#9 Caroline Jarmoc, Kansas
#10 Kathleen Gates, Georgia
#11 Kathleen Luft, Georgia
#12 Lillie Happel, Liberty
#35 Lorrin Rucker, Florida A&M

The Jayhawks will return home to play host to the Jayhawk Invitational, Sept. 2-3. Kansas will welcome Appalachian State, Belmont and South Dakota State to the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.