Kansas Suffers Setback at No. 4 Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. – Four Jayhawks collected double-digit digs and the Kansas volleyball team came out strong with a 25-21 set one victory but it was not enough as KU could not carry its momentum through the remainder of the match as it fell 25-13, 25-18 and 25-18 in the next three sets at No. 4 Nebraska Wednesday evening.

Kansas dropped to 10-4 overall and 1-2 in the Big 12 Conference. Nebraska recorded its 10th-straight victory as it improved to 11-2 on the season, including 3-0 in conference play.

Freshman libero Brianne Riley, the Big 12 Volleyball Rookie of the Week, led all players with 18 digs in her sixth consecutive match with 10-plus digs. Senior Melissa Manda recorded 13 digs in the effort, while junior Allison Mayfield and sophomore Morgan Boub each added 10.

Mayfield also added eight kills during the match, just behind team leaders Karina Garlington and Jenna Kaiser, who each had 11 kills. Redshirt freshman Caroline Jarmoc collected nine kills on a team-high .467 attack percentage.

“There were some phases of the game that we played well,” said head coach Ray Bechard. “Our digging was really good but we had too many unforced errors. We had too many offensive breakdowns to beat a team of this quality.”

For the first time in series history, Kansas won its opening set with the Cornhuskers as it topped NU 25-21 to start the match. KU trailed at 2-0 and 2-1 but tied the score at 2-2 and never fell behind again despite Nebraska knotting the score four more times with the last coming a 12-12.

Kills by Kaiser and Mayfield paired with a couple attack errors from NU pushed KU’s lead to 18-14. The Huskers, who suffered from nine hitting miscues in the first set, would come within two twice, at 18-16 and 22-20, but Kaiser added another kill and Nebraska committed two more attack errors as KU went on to record the set one win.

Kaiser tallied six kills in the opening set on a .556 clip, while Garlington added four kills as KU out-hit Nebraska .243-.133. Junior setter Nicole Tate, who made her second start of the season, guided the offense with 15 of her season-high 42 assists during set one.

Nebraska fine-tuned its offense in the second set swinging at a .464 attack percentage with just one hitting error. KU was not as successful hitting a .129 clip. Kansas fell behind early 9-3 after a five-point Husker rally and could not catch up, dropping the set 25-13. Nebraska sealed the win with a 5-1 run at the end of the frame.

In the third set, Kansas came on strong at the end holding off Nebraska’s set point three times before the Huskers notched a 25-18 win. The Jayhawks out-scored NU 8-5 down the stretch but suffered from a slow start that they could not recover from while also suffering from nine attack errors. Riley helped limit Nebraska’s offense tallying seven digs.

Kansas stayed close in the final set coming within one point of the Huskers twice but could not find the offensive push it needed to overcome its disadvantage. Mayfield and Jarmoc aided a four-point run by the Jayhawks as they narrowed the gap to 11-10 only to have the Huskers respond with three-straight points. Following a KU timeout, the Jayhawks made another strong push with a 5-2 run to come within one point again at 16-15, but it was as close as they would get as Nebraska ended the match on a 9-3 rally.

Kansas will stay on the road for its next contest as the Jayhawks head to Colorado on Saturday, Sept. 25 for a 7:30 p.m. (CT) match versus the Buffaloes.