Kansas Defeats No. 6 Minnesota, Sweeps St. Louis to Finish UNI Invitational

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa –After defeating No. 6 Minnesota in the morning match, the University of Kansas volleyball team swept St. Louis in its final contest of the Clarion Inn-vitational hosted by Northern Iowa, 26-24, 25-10, 27-25.

Kansas (8-1) went 2-1 on the weekend, including the program’s first victory against a team ranked as highly as Minnesota’s No. 6 status. The Jayhawks also took No. 15 UNI to five sets on the Panthers home floor and wrapped up the weekend with a sweep against the highly-competitive St. Louis Billikens (3-4).

“There was some progress over the weekend,” head coach Ray Bechardsaid. “We’ll see if we can build on that next weekend when we face another tough situation at DePaul. This was a good barometer for our program against two top-15 teams and a good St. Louis team.”

With Kansas, No. 6 Minnesota and No. 15 Northern Iowa all finishing 2-1 over the weekend, a series of tiebreakers were used to determine the standings. The point-differential tiebreaker ruled Kansas in third place. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Caroline Jarmocwas named to the all-tournament team for the third-straight week.

In their final appearance at the McLeod Center, redshirt sophomore middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc and freshman outside hitter Sara McClinton each posted 12-kill efforts to pace the offense. Senior outside hitter Allison Mayfieldadded nine, and Jarmoc attacked for an impressive .409 percentage.

Sophomore libero Brianne Riley put forth another solid effort, with 14 digs to add to sophomore setter Kara Wehrs’ 15. Junior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree, and freshman outside hitter Chelsea Alberseach totaled three blocks apiece in the finale. Both Jarmoc and Tolefree rejected 14 attacks over the weekend as Kansas tallied 28 total blocks as a team.

McClinton tallied the first kill for Kansas to help the Jayhawks get out to a 4-3 lead in the opening points of the first set. A cross-court kill for Mayfield was her second in the early goings and helped the Jayhawks to a 10-7 advantage.

Jarmoc and Albers reprised their blocking role from the match against Minnesota on Saturday morning. The two blocked a Lauren Baumet attack en route to boosting a 15-11 lead.

The Billikens fired back, and a pair of kills from SLU’s Alyssa Deno and a Kansas attack error tied the score, 17-17. Jarmoc and Tolefree saw to it that the tie game was brief, rattling off three-straight kills to go ahead, 20-17 and forcing an SLU timeout.

St. Louis responded in a hurry, putting together a 7-3 run to pull ahead, 24-23. Rallying his squad, Bechard signaled for the timeout. A service error evened the score before McClinton swung for an essential kill, moving her team to set point, 25-24. An attack error handed Kansas its third opening set victory of the weekend, 26-24.

Neck and neck, both teams went into the second set hitting for a .262 team attack percentage. It would change in a hurry when Kansas struck for a .400 hitting percentage as a unit in the second set, while holding SLU to -.107.

Carrying her big day over from the morning match, sophomore setter Erin McNortondropped in a service ace as her teammates came out firing. KU collected a perfect five kills on five attacks to jump out to an early 7-2 lead.

Consecutive SLU errors further extended the lead, 10-4. Deno answered for St. Louis with back-to-back kills, but Albers and Tolefree blocked her next attempt to keep their lead at a comfortable spot. Two more attack errors pushed Kansas to a 17-10 advantage, prompting a timeout from SLU head coach Kent Miller.

The timeout couldn’t halt the Jayhawks. Kansas rolled through the end of the second set on an 11-0 run, including kills from sophomores Marianne Beal and Catherine Carmichael, to win handily, 25-10.

Armed with a 2-0 lead, Kansas faced a firey SLU squad in the third set. Sophomore defensive specialist Jaime Mathieu’sservice ace put the Jayhawks on the board, but the Billikens found ways to stay a point or two ahead for much of the set.

Andrea Beaty was a primary reason, tallying three kills in the third set and nine on the evening, to help her Billikens to an 11-8 lead. An error on her part and a Mayfield kill would put the Hawks right back in it, 11-12. After falling behind, 11-14, Bechard asked for a timeout.

Minutes later, SLU would need one to counter the 4-0 Kansas run that put the Jayhawks in front for the first time in the set. From there, Kansas found its stride. McNorton dropped in an ace, while Jarmoc and McClinton stepped up for a block to give KU the 17-14 boost.

Tolefree blasted a kill in front of the baseline to add to the Kansas lead, but St. Louis continued to battle. Although Tolefree knocked down another, the Billikens fought to keep KU from pulling away. Back-to-back kills from Cassie Clarke pulled SLU within one, prompting a Kansas timeout with the one-point lead, 22-21.

Jarmoc and Deno traded kills for the opposing sides to draw out the end of the match, but Tolefree and Albers rejected the final SLU attack of the evening to take the set and the match, 27-25.

All-Tournament Team
Ashley Wittman, Minnesota (MVP)
Tori Dixon, Minnesota
Jess Granquist, Minnesota
Bre Payton, UNI
Megan Lehman, UNI
Caroline Jarmoc, Kansas
Alyssa Deno, Saint Louis

Kansas will play its final pre-conference tournament against another high-caliber tournament field in Chicago, Ill. The Jayhawks will take on San Diego State, Valparaiso and DePaul at the DePaul Invitational, Sept. 16-17.