Kansas Opens Jayhawk Invitational with Win Over Belmont, 3-1

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Three players tallied double-digit kills to power the University of Kansas volleyball team past Belmont in the Jayhawks’ opening match of the 2011 Jayhawk Invitational, 25-17, 22-25, 25-19, 25-18.

After taking the first set, Kansas (4-0) snapped a 13-set win streak as Belmont took a closely-contested second set. The Jayhawks used a season-high 17 blocks as a team to bounce back with back-to-back wins in sets three and four to remain undefeated.

“I’m really happy that we dug a good number of balls and we blocked really well,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “Those are the two stats that I thought kept us in it. We were a little uneven on the serving side and the passing side, and anytime those two things happen it creates some unevenness in the match.”

Senior outside hitter Allison Mayfield led the offense with 15 kills, and added that to 13 digs for her first double-double of the season. Junior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree put forth a solid performance, landing 13 kills in 25 attempts. Fellow middle, redshirt sophomore Caroline Jarmoc, rolled out a .409 attack percentage with 11 kills. The middle duo dominated at the net as they combined for 14 block assists and a block solo each.

“We established the middles early with Tolefree and Jarmoc, but I think we went away from it a bit,” Bechard said. “We need to continue to keep those two heavily involved offensively.”

The Jayhawks rattled off four-straight kills to jump out to an early 8-2 lead in the opening set, causing Belmont head coach Deane Webb to call a timeout. Forcing their way back into it, the Bruins capitalized on a pair of Kansas errors before a Maggie Johnson kill knotted the score at 15-15. Bechard called a timeout of his own to get his team regrouped.

It worked. Kills from Mayfield and sophomore setter Kara Wehrs capped the 8-0 run that the Jayhawks used to close out the first set, 25-17.

Although the Jayhawk defense totaled seven blocks as a unit and held the Bruins to a .098 team attack percentage in the second set, KU mustered just a .043 attack percentage on its side. Despite its lull on offense, Kansas continued to find ways to keep it close when a kill from BU’s Hannah Miranda gave Belmont its largest lead of the afternoon, 18-15.

Kills from Jarmoc and Mayfield swung the advantage back to the home team’s favor, 19-18, but Belmont’s offense pressed on. With the match tied, the Jayhawks fell victim to errors that allowed Belmont to tie the match at a set apiece, 25-22.

Kansas came out of the break ready to roll, chalking up just two errors on 39 attacks in the third set. A kill from Mayfield backed by a Bruin attack error pushed the Jayhawk advantage to 12-6, prompting another timeout from the Belmont bench. Although the Bruins would respond with a 5-1 run following the timeout, kills from freshman outside hitter Chelsea Albers and Mayfield cooled any opposing momentum.

Tolefree threw down a kill, while fellow junior Morgan Boub dropped in a service ace to open up the lead, 21-15. Tolefree added her fourth kill of the set to bring the Jayhawks to match point before BU error handed over the set victory, 25-19.

Jarmoc opened the fourth and final set with a quick kill. Tolefree helped step up the presence in the middle, knocking out two kills of her own to power the Jayhawks to a 17-7 lead.

With the sizable lead in hand, the Jayhawks briefly allowed the Bruins to inch closer before closing out the match. After an attack error narrowed KU’s lead to five, Bechard called a timeout that gave his team the final spark it needed. Back-to-back kills from Mayfield, who racked up five in the fourth set, sealed the set and the victory, 25-18.

“Hopefully we got those first-home game jitters out of the way,” Bechard said. “We have two teams remaining that will really challenge us in a lot of way. Appalachian State has a lot of local kids on their team so they’ll be really excited to play us tonight. We have to match that with our energy and execution.”

Kansas and Appalachian State (3-2) will square off in the Jayhawk Invitational’s final match of the day. First serve is set for 7 p.m., with the schedule pending on the preceding match between Belmont and South Dakota State.

The Jayhawks evening contest will be webcast on Jayhawk All-Access.