Kansas Loses Heartbreaker to No. 18 Northern Iowa

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Facing a 2-0 deficit, the Kansas volleyball team battled back to win the next two sets but ultimately fell 3-2 (25-16, 25-20, 25-23, 25-20, 15-11) to No. 18 Northern Iowa in a closely contested fifth set.

KU, which defeated Winthrop earlier in the day in its first match of the Kansas Invitational, fell to 8-2 on the season. UNI improved its mark to 7-2, including 2-0 on the weekend.

During the final set, Kansas played from behind earlier on but scored three-straight points with the help of senior Karina Garlington and redshirt freshman Caroline Jarmoc to knot the score at 9-9. Unfortunately it was as close as KU would come as the Panthers used a 6-2 run to close out the match. The Jayhawks also suffered from unforced errors committing seven attack miscues in the fifth set, while the UNI front line combined for 4.5 of its 17.5 blocks in the last frame.

Garlington finished with a team-high 18 kills in the contest. Sophomore Tayler Tolefree joined her in double digits chipping in a career-high 11 kills.

Despite the loss, the KU defense held UNI to a .173 attack percentage. Freshman libero Brianne Riley paced the back row with 21 digs, while sophomore Morgan Boub recorded a career-best 20. Junior Allison Mayfield added 11.

After hitting just .066 in the first two sets, Kansas’ offense stepped up in sets three and four. Garlington also provided a major lift as she tallied seven kills in the third frame along with two solo blocks. As KU trailed 23-20 in the third set, Garlington used three kills combined with two Panther attack errors to score five-straight points en route to KU’s 25-23 win.

In the fourth set, the Jayhawks rallied behind a match-high .304 clip. KU opened the set with five-straight points, a lead which held until set point at 25-20.

The Jayhawks conclude the Kansas Invitational and their eight-match homestand with a 4 p.m. match versus Arkansas- Little Rock on Saturday (tomorrow) at 4 p.m.