Kansas Chalks Up Ninth-Straight, Takes Down Xavier

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Solid execution on both sides of the net extended the Kansas volleyball win streak to nine, tying the fourth-longest in program history, as KU dropped Xavier at the Golden Dome Invitational, Saturday morning, 25-15, 25-21, 25-17.

Ignoring the early start time, Kansas (11-1) came out ready for business against the Musketeers (7-6). The Jayhawks sprinted out to a double-digit lead in set one, won eight of the last 10 points in the second frame to wipe out a 19-17 deficit and closed with a quick third set for the Jayhawks’ sixth sweep of the season.

“I was really happy with the way we came out and set the tone,” head coach Ray Bechard, who won his 949th career match on Saturday, said. “We thought that after Xavier played such an emotional match last night (3-2 loss vs. Notre Dame) that if we came out and gave them a good shove, we could get off to a good start and we did that. I was even more pleased with our response in the second set, when we’re down 19-17. We earned those points, they didn’t make errors. Overall I thought it was a very solid effort this morning.”

Redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc responded from the tournament opener to lead the floor with 14 kills and six blocks as the Jayhawks won the war at the net, out-blocking the Musketeers, 12-5.5. Fellow middle blocker, senior Tayler Tolefree, also contributed a solid performance with five blocks and five kills.

Aside from the blocking edge, Kansas’ back row was equally dominant. Junior setter Erin McNorton put up her second career double-double with 30 assists and a career-high 13 digs, while junior libero Brianne Riley contributed a team-high 14 digs – moving her past Kris Kleinschmidt (1988-91) for sixth all-time in career digs (1,110).

Tolefree and redshirt junior outside hitter Catherine Carmichael quick-started the Jayhawk offense in the opening frame as KU climbed to a 10-3 lead in a hurry. In fact, by the time Kansas held the 13-5 advantage, three of the Musketeers’ five points came from Jayhawk serving errors.

Tolefree and freshman outside hitter Tiana Dockery, who set her career high in block assists the night before against Loyola-Marymount, confirmed the dominating first-set performance with a block that built a 17-7 lead to prompt an XU timeout.

The lead remained around the 10-point margin for the remainder of the set as Kansas hit for a scorching .483 efficiency in the first frame. A Musketeer service error closed out the quick set, 25-15, handing Kansas the 1-0 lead.

Back-and-forth scoring to open the second set evened the momentum momentarily. At 7-7, Jarmoc logged her third kill of the set before Tolefree and McClinton stepped up for a block to crack a slight lead. Unlike the first set, where Kansas jumped out to a double-digit lead and ran away with it, Xavier was able to keep the second frame within two-three points for much of the way.

In need of a momentum swing, a definitive defensive stand on the Kansas side did just that. With Xavier attacking, junior defensive specialist Jaime Mathieu dove to keep the ball off the ground, the Musketeers sent it right back over, this time to be dug by a diving save from Dockery. When Xavier swung over for a third time, Dockery recovered in time for the solo block – prompting an immediate Xavier timeout.

The Musketeers responded, rolling out the timeout with a 7-2 run to take the 19-17 lead and Bechard asked for a timeout of his own.
KU’s response was louder. A barrage of kills and block assists from McClinton and Jarmoc highlighted six-straight points out of the timeout, returning control to the Jayhawks. Winning eight of the last 10 points in the set, Kansas went to the break with the 25-21 win and the 2-0 lead.

Out of the break between sets two and three, Xavier came out with a 4-1 lead in which KU wasted no time turning around. Consecutive Xavier attack errors and a Carmichael/Jarmoc block put KU back in front, 7-4, prompting a timeout from Xavier head coach Mike Johnson.

Although the Musketeers continued to attack, Kansas had the momentum on lock. With a commanding 17-10 lead, XU took its last timeout, out of which Carmichael registered a kill immediately followed by KU’s 12th block of the match to put the set out of reach.

Jarmoc drilled a kill across the court to bring KU to set point and McClinton sealed the deal with her final kill of the morning to take the set win, 25-17, and complete the sweep.

-Friday: vs. Loyola-Marymount: KU 3-1, 25-15, 25-23, 21-25, 25-14
-Saturday: vs. Xavier: KU 3-0, 25-15, 25-21, 25-17
-Sunday: vs. Notre Dame, 12 p.m. CT