Kansas Stops San Diego State to Win DePaul Invitational Opener, 3-1

CHICAGO, Ill. –Powered by a 12-0 run in the final set and 13 team blocks on the evening, the University of Kansas volleyball team opened the weekend with a victory against San Diego State in the first match of the DePaul Invitational, 20-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-18.

Acting as the home team on the neutral floor at DePaul’s McGrath-Phillips Arena, Kansas (9-1) was met by a feisty San Deigo State (4-2) squad who became just the second unranked team to force Kansas to a fourth set all season. After dropping the first set, however, the Jayhawks came back in full force to win the next three sets and their third-straight match.

“We thought we had a more physical team, but you didn’t see that in the first half of the match,” head coach Ray Bechardsaid. “But after the break, you saw our physicality and our defense take over. It’s important to have success against different regions and they were a tough west coast team.”

Senior outside hitter Allison Mayfield finished just one dig shy of her second double-double of the season, but led both teams with 19 kills to add to her nine digs and two aces. As a team, the Jayhawks racked up eight service aces while swinging for a .250 attack percentage.

“I thought Allison Mayfieldhad a great night,” Bechard said.

Defensively, the Jayhawks were a force to be reckoned with. Junior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree and freshman outside hitter Chelsea Albers broke out for seven blocks apiece, including two solo blocks from Albers. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Caroline Jarmocadded four blocks to her team-leading season total.

A pair of kills from Sarah Nash coupled with a Jayhawk attack error saw Kansas fall behind early in the first set, 8-4, prompting a timeout from Bechard. The Hawks responded to the short break with kills from Mayfield and a block from redshirt sophomores Catherine Carmichaeland Jarmoc to pull within one, 9-8.

Without the use of freshman outside hitter Sara McClinton, Carmichael stepped in and contributed a career-best eight kills and a pair of blocks, her first as a Jayhawk.

A kill from Jarmoc and consecutive Aztec errors handed KU its first lead of the evening and forced a break in the action from the San Diego State bench. A big swing from sophomore setter Kara Wehrsgave the Hawks the 13-12 edge as the teams prepared to trade points for the remainder of the set.

Attack errors on both sides knotted the score at 17-17, and neither team was willing to budge. Consecutive mishaps for the Jayhawks warranted another timeout from Bechard, but the break did little good as the Aztecs pulled ahead, 24-20. A final kill from Paije Pearson closed the set against the Jayhawks, 20-25.

The first set loss marked just the second one Kansas has surrendered to an unranked team this season, and the Jayhawks worked quickly to rebound in the second set.

Tolefree rattled off two-straight kills and Kara Wehrsdropped in a pair of service aces to give KU the early 6-3 edge. Once again, however, the Aztecs jumped into a back-and-forth battle, tying it at six points apiece in their first opportunity. This time, Kansas benefitted from a .367 attack percentage as a team to SDSU’s .172 to create a solid attack for the Crimson and Blue.

Down one freshman on Friday evening, fellow rookie Chelsea Albershelped to pull the weight. She and Jarmoc stepped up for a block following a Carmichael kill. Two more kills and a block from Jarmoc highlighted a 7-2 run that saw Kansas climb to a 14-9 lead.

The Aztecs answered sophomore setter Erin McNortonand Jarmoc’s back-to-back points with three of their own to whittle down KU’s lead, 16-14. Tolefree and Albers’ posted another block in response to forge ahead, 21-16. By the end of the second set, Kansas had racked up 7.0 total team blocks.

The latest one forced SDSU head coach Dietra Collins-Parker to take a timeout. It couldn’t stop the Jayhawks’ momentum as Jarmoc’s fifth kill of the set wrapped up the 25-20 victory.

KU’s blocking crew picked up where it left off in the third set with Kara Wehrsand Tolefree collecting their first one of the set just three points in. Carmichael checked in and quickly smacked consecutive kills to put the Hawks up, 8-4.

As they had all evening, the Aztecs rallied back to lock the game at 12-12. Long volleys would display both teams’ endurance levels while keeping the set close. An ace followed by four-straight kills from the opponent’s side of the net sparked a 7-3 Aztec rally that handed SDSU its first lead of the set.

Trailing 14-16, KU rallied around kills from Mayfield and Carmichael as well as a service ace from McNorton to retake the lead, 19-18. Junior defensive specialist Morgan Boubdelivered another crucial ace, giving Kansas a slight cushion, 22-19. An Aztec timeout couldn’t hold off Jarmoc’s service ace on the next play as Kansas took set three, 25-20.

The fourth set opened in favor of the Aztecs, but KU worked diligently to not let them take a lead larger than three to four points. KU forced an attack error and Mayfield tallied a kill to narrow the deficit, 11-9.

Albers and Tolefree took off on a blocking rampage, racking up three in a row to tie the set, 12-12, and prompt an SDSU timeout. Mayfield’s ace out of the timeout handed her team its first lead of the set – and sparked a monstrous 12-0 run that changed the dynamic of the match.

Although SDSU put together a rally, the Jayhawks had stolen all momentum. Carmichael collected the last kill of the evening to take the set and the victory, 25-18.

Kansas will travel to Austin, Texas and face No. 8 Texas in the Jayhawks’ Big 12 Conference opener. The Sept. 24 match is scheduled for a 4 p.m. CT start.