Kansas Sweeps DePaul to Claim Third Pre-Conference Tournament of the Season
CHICAGO, Ill. – Led by Tournament MVP senior outside hitter Allison Mayfield, the University of Kansas volleyball team swept tournament-host DePaul to win its third tournament of the pre-conference season, 25-18, 25-12, 25-23.
The DePaul Invitational marked the 10th pre-conference tournament title for head coach Ray Bechard, as Kansas (11-1) now stands one victory shy of the program’s best start under Bechard (12-1, 2002). Heading into Big 12 Conference play, the Jayhawks have three tournament titles under their belt and their only loss came in a five-set battle against a nationally-ranked Northern Iowa team.
“We didn’t start game one great and didn’t end game three great,” Bechard said. “But in four pre-conference tournaments, we’ve won three championships. We know the areas we need to work on, and I feel like we’ve positioned ourselves pretty well to get started in Big 12 play.”
For the third time over the weekend, Mayfield paced the Jayhawk offense, but the third time was particularly charming – including a nine-kill, .818 attack percentage in set two – en route to a 17-kill display. The senior averaged nearly five kills per set over the weekend, and was named the Tournament MVP for the third time this season in recognition of her effort.
Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Caroline Jarmoccollected her fourth-straight all-tournament team award. Jarmoc had a sensational weekend, swinging for a team-best .424 attack percentage while racking up 14 blocks. Against DePaul, Jarmoc connected on eight kills and collected four blocks.
After racking up 17 total team blocks in the Saturday opener against Valparaiso, junior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree and freshman outside hitter Chelsea Albersimmediately set the blocking tone in the first set to score the Hawks’ second point of the game.
Tolefree also brought her red-hot afternoon into the evening match as her kill gave Kansas the early 8-6 edge. She and Albers teamed up again to put their team ahead, 14-11, before the Blue Demons rattled off a 3-0 run to tie it. A service error and consecutive kills from Jarmoc swung the momentum back in KU’s direction as the visitors climbed ahead, 20-15.
Making her second appearance of the year, sophomore outside hitter Amy Wehrsstepped in and flawlessly knocked in her first service ace of the season to bring the Jayhawks to set point. A Blue Demon error would end the set in KU’s favor, 25-18.
Mayfield, who hit at a blistering .818 clip (9-for-11) in the second set, chalked up back-to-back kills and joined Tolefree for a block to push the Jayhawks out early in set two, 6-1. A timeout break didn’t slow the Hawks, who used an ace from Jarmoc and another Mayfield kill to jump ahead, 9-1.
Senior setter Nicole Tate also earned the nod to step in and serve and followed Amy Wehrs’ lead, drilling a service ace in her first attempt. The ace gave her team a 10-point lead and forced another Blue Demon timeout. Amy Wehrswould check back in and connect on another ace later in the set for a new career-high.
Able to use all his role players from the sidelines, Bechard also sent in redshirt sophomore Taylor Manning and sophomore middle blocker Jessie Allen. Manning made her first career appearance as a Jayhawk, while Allen’s first kill of the season finished the set, 25-12.
“I got to play 16 players and give some kids an opportunity who don’t normally get an opportunity, so I’m really excited about that. For the most part our levels stayed pretty consistent,” Bechard said.
Two-straight service aces early in the third set marked the first of Albers’ collegiate career as the Jayhawks hopped out to a 7-3 lead. DePaul defended its home floor, rallying to take its first lead of the evening, 9-8.
Unfazed, KU grinded out the third-set victory. Kills from Carmichael and Jarmoc highlighted the 4-0 run that put the Jayhawks back in front for good. DePaul, however, refused to go down without a fight. With Kansas sitting at match point, the Blue Demons rallied to close the gap, 24-23, but a final swing from Jarmoc ended the threat and the match, 25-23.
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.
-All three seniors played in Saturday’s night game for the first time all season. After recovering from injury, senior right side hitter Lauren Hagan made her first appearance in 2011.
-Kansas is chasing the program’s best-ever start, a 15-1 mark that opened the 1991 campaign.