Kansas Moves to 2-0 at DePaul Invitational, Defeats Valparaiso in Five

CHICAGO, Ill. – Powered by career-best kill numbers from junior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree, senior outside hitter Allison Mayfield and redshirt sophomore middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc, the University of Kansas volleyball team continued its weekend at the DePaul Invitational with a five-set victory against Valparaiso, 25-18, 27-29, 21-25, 25-16, 15-10.

Kansas (10-1) rallied from a 2-1 deficit, fending off Valparaiso (9-5), the only unranked team this season to force the Jayhawks to a fifth set out, propelling KU to its best start since the 2005 season.

Tolefree and Mayfield led the way at the McGrath-Phillps Arena with a double-double apiece on Saturday afternoon. Tolefree broke her old personal best in kills by the end of the third set and racked up 17 total against the Crusaders. Adding to her brilliant effort, the junior blocked a career-best 11 balls for her first double-double of her career.

Mayfield gave another solid performance to back up her effort in the DePaul Invitational opener. She posted her second double-double of the season with 14 digs and a career-high 22 kills against Valparaiso. Jarmoc bested the career-high she set against No. 6 Minnesota with 15 against Valpo. Their setter, sophomore Kara Wehrs, also posted a new career-high on Saturday with 52 assists. Her 13 digs made her the third Jayhawk to record a double-double on the afternoon.

“Tolefree’s 17 kills and 11 blocks was exactly what we needed,” head coach Ray Bechardsaid. “Our middles really saved us today. Our pin players were a little on and off. Mayfield was good and we needed her to be, but that’s a match that a lot of `favored’ teams across the country might lose. We got better in game four and five to beat a team that was really outworking us there for a while.”

Kansas came out firing in the opening set, hitting at a .419 clip as a team, highlighted by seven kills from Tolefree. The Jayhawks would finish the afternoon hitting .225 as a unit, while holding the Crusaders to just .094 as a club.

Tolefree wasted no time in the first set, connecting on a pair of kills, a block assist and a solo block to kick her team out to a 7-3 lead. Freshman outside hitter Chelsea Albers’kill and an ace from Mayfield highlighted the 8-0 Kansas run that forced Valpo head coach Carin Avery to call timeout.

The Jayhawks were relentless with the early pressure. Mayfield locked in on a kill to Valpo’s backcourt to push the lead to 15-5. The Crusaders put up a rally, getting as close as 21-16 towards the end of the first frame, but Kansas closed in.

A joint blocking effort by Albers and redshirt sophomore middle blocker Caroline Jarmocput the Hawks up, 22-16. A final kill from Jarmoc took care of the first set, 25-18.

A hustle play from sophomore setter Kara Wehrsand Jarmoc went unrewarded as the Crusaders took a 5-0 lead to start a dramatic second set, prompting a timeout from Bechard. KU came out of the pause to post a 5-0 run of its own. Jarmoc and Tolefree cranked out three-straight kills to halt the Valpo momentum on their way to an 8-7 lead.

The second frame featured impressive digs on both sides of the net, which made for a closely-contested set. Kansas racked up 18 digs in the set, but couldn’t offset the 10 errors committed. An ace for Ariel Cudney gave Valpo the 14-11 lead, its largest since the early 5-0 edge. Despite solid attacks from the Kansas offense, the Jayhawks found themselves trailing, 18-15, and used a timeout.

Jarmoc crushed a shot over the net and another Jayhawk block tied the game, 19-19. A pair of untimely errors put KU behind 23-21, and once again the Hawks battled back to tie it. A huge swing from Mayfield and two-straight kills by redshirt sophomore Catherine Carmichaelhelped Kansas climb ahead, but after trading points Valpo tied the match with a 29-27 win.

Service errors kept it close in the early goings of the third set before a kill from Carmichael saw the Jayhawks inch ahead, 7-6. Looking much like the previous set, the Crusaders were always there with a quick answer and neither team could gain ground.

After Valpo built a slight 15-12 lead, the Jayhawks answered with an extreme defensive effort from sophomore setter Erin McNortonthat Mayfield converted into a kill to close the deficit, 15-16. Again Valpo retaliated, jumping ahead 18-15 to induce another KU timeout.

Trailing 20-16, Kansas received a big kill from Mayfield and another block from Tolefree. Riley hit the ground for a clutch dig that resulted in a sneaky kill by Kara Wehrsto cut Valpo’s lead in half, 23-21, but couldn’t stop the Crusaders from taking set three, 25-21.

Kara Wehrs’first service ace of the afternoon followed by a KU block gave the Hawks the upper hand in the fourth set, 6-3. Still hot, Tolefree highlighted a Jayhawk run that saw them surge ahead, 12-5. Per the usual, Jarmoc and Mayfield got in on the scoring rally as well as their team continued to build it lead, 18-9.

Back-to-back aces from Valpo’s Sarah Dooms helped the Crusader cause, but the Jayhawks weren’t interested. A block from Albers and Jarmoc kept KU in front, 22-14. A strong Mayfield kill won the set and tied the match, 25-16.

In the decisive fifth set, it was Valparaiso that tallied the first point. Mayfield and Tolefree joined forces for a block and an Albers kill helped KU get out to a 6-3 lead, forcing a timeout from Avery from the Valpo bench.

Mayfield shined in set five, leading the team with four kills. She wasn’t the only one, Jarmoc and Carmichael slammed down a block to push the lead further, 9-4. Refusing to go down quietly, Valpo rallied to narrow the Jayhawk lead, 10-8. Bechard called a timeout to regroup his squad.

It worked. A Jarmoc kill, a Crusader error later and another for kill for Mayfield brought Kansas to match point. Mayfield’s final kill of the match broke her old career-best kill mark, and flew into the stands for the final point of the match, 15-10.

Kansas will take on tournament host, DePaul, in the final match of the invitational at 7:30 p.m. The game will be available via online radio and live video stream at . Fans can click “Listen Live” at the top of the page and then click the video window below for a live video stream. Both services are free of charge.

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.