Bechard Wins No. 200 as Kansas Volleyball Downs Texas A&M in Five

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Senior Karina Garlington led Kansas with 14 kills as the Jayhawk volleyball team topped Texas A&M in five sets (25-23, 18-25, 20-25, 25-22, 15-10) Saturday evening to earn KU head coach Ray Bechard his 200th career victory at Kansas.

KU stopped a seven-match skid versus the Aggies to improve its record to 10-3, including 1-1 in the Big 12 Conference. Texas A&M, which was coming off a 3-0 sweep of No. 8 Texas and riding a four-match win streak, dropped to 7-5 overall (1-1 Big 12).

In the fifth set, Kansas worked to overcome an early deficit tying the frame at 7-7 after a kill from junior Lauren Hagan. Junior Allison Mayfield gave KU its first lead with a kill in the next play. The Aggies tied the set one more time at 8-8 before KU grabbed the momentum and finished the frame on a 4-0 run to notch a 15-10 victory.

Garlington scored six of her team-high 14 kills in the final frame to help push KU to victory.

“I’m proud that we persevered when we weren’t really clicking offensively and defensively,” said Bechard. “We played our best at the end making some great plays. We also had our best blocking effort of the year, particularly towards the end.”

“This was a quality win versus a quality team. We took advantage of our set five experience from a week ago. A week ago, we weren’t aggressive versus Northern Iowa, but tonight we were.”

Mayfield contributed 13 kills during the match along with three solo blocks. KU recorded a season-high 16.0 team blocks led by sophomore Tayler Tolefree’s six rejections. Redshirt Caroline Jarmoc chipped in with five blocks.

Kansas also found help on defense from freshman libero Brianne Riley, who had a team-high 15 digs. Sophomore Morgan Boub added 11 digs and also had two service aces as did junior setter Nicole Tate.

In the opening frame, KU took its first lead of the set at 10-9 following a solo block from Garlington but Texas A&M soon put together a 5-0 run to take back the advantage at 16-13. Kansas answered right back stringing together nine unanswered points to go up 24-20. It was a complete team effort with four different players scoring a kill in the run and two service aces from Boub. TAMU tallied the next three points to threaten KU’s lead but a service error by the Aggies, their fourth of the set, awarded Kansas set point at 25-23.

Kansas could not find the offensive output it needed in the second set collecting just eight kills and hitting.029 as a team compared to TAMU’s .250 efficiency. The Aggies used an 8-0 run early in the set to take a commanding 13-3 lead and pull out of reach.

The third set looked to go down in similar fashion until the Jayhawks made a strong push at the end. Trailing 24-13, Kansas put off the Aggies’ set point seven times. Tate served two aces during the 7-0 run while Tolefree added two of her six kills in the match. TAMU used a 7-0 run early on to lead 16-5 before the Jayhawks hit their stride coming on strong at the end, but it was too late as the third set went to the Aggies, 25-20.

In the set four, it was KU that gained the early lead and never lost it for the remainder of the frame despite Texas A&M coming back to tie the score nine times, including 21-21. The Jayhawks scored four of the set’s last five points to seal their 25-22 win.

Mayfield contributed five of Kansas’ 12 kills during the set, while the team took advantage of 12 Aggie attack errors.

The Jayhawks are back in action Wednesday, Sept. 22 when they travel to Lincoln, Neb., to face nationally-ranked Nebraska. Match time is 7 p.m.