Kansas Looks Dominant, Sweeps Texas Tech in Big 12 Opener

LUBBOCK, Texas – Balance and dominance went hand-in-hand as Kansas racked up 10 more kills and 12 more total blocks to sail past the Texas Tech Red Raiders to earn a Big 12 Conference opening sweep, Saturday inside the United Spirit Arena, 25-16, 25-16, 25-15.

Kansas (13-2, 1-0) extended its streak to four-straight wins against Texas Tech (11-5, 0-1), claiming 10 of the last 11 meetings. The Jayhawks moved to 18-16 in the all-time series as KU faced Tech for the first time in a Big 12 season opener.

In the conference debut, the Jayhawks looked nothing short of dominant as they kicked off the evening hitting .400 as a team and finished at a season-high .371 mark, its highest since the second day of the 2011 campaign (.387 vs. Liberty, 8/27/11).

“We had great balance tonight,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “When you have just seven errors in a three-set match on the road against a Big 12 team, you’re doing a lot of things right. Erin (McNorton) moved the ball around really well tonight and I was very happy with Cathy (Carmichael). Her nine kills and no errors is what we need out of her.”

Redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc led the charge with seven blocks and 11 kills on a .500 attack percentage, the eighth time this season the All-Big 12 Preseason selection has hit .500 or better. She had plenty of offense alongside her as sophomore outside hitter Sara McClinton and Carmichael chipped in nine apiece. Senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree led the efficiency duty, posting a .583 mark on seven kills and no errors.

The kills leaderboard marked only part of the balanced attack force Kansas brought on Saturday. The Jayhawks cranked out more digs (50-38), more assists (40-31) more kills (43-33), all while outhitting the Red Raiders (.371-.080). The most impressive stat, however, came at the net as Kansas racked up 14 total team blocks to Tech’s two, knocking out 24 block assists for the fourth time this season. Aside from Jarmoc’s seven blocks, Tolefree and freshman outside hitter Tiana Dockery contributed six blocks each.

Junior setter Erin McNorton posted her third double-double of the year with 31 assists and 11 digs. Junior libero Brianne Riley racked up 10 digs along with a season-high five assists, but it was Dockery that led the way with 12 – her third-straight double-digit digs effort.

Three early kills from freshman Lydia McKay, who led the Red Raiders with 11 on the night, helped Tech tie the score in the opening set, 7-7. Kills from McNorton and Tolefree followed by a pair of Jayhawk blocks, sparked the 4-0 lead that forced the first timeout of the match with KU leading, 13-9.

Tech would take the first two points out of the pause, but Kansas never lost control. A diving save from junior defensive specialist Jaime Mathieu set up a Jarmoc kill, pushing the Kansas lead to 17-11. Moments later, Jarmoc connected on a well-placed tip and prompt the second TTU timeout of the set.

The pause didn’t have any more effect than the previous one as kills from Jarmoc, McClinton and Tolefree ran the score to set point. An attack error sealed set one for the Jayhawks, 25-16. Dockery shined in the first set, racking up four blocks and five digs, while Jarmoc, McClinton and Carmichael collected four kills apiece. What’s more, the Jayhawks kicked off the evening hitting for a .400 attack percentage, while holding the home team to an even .000.

Dockery’s first kill of the evening came in the early points of the second set as she blasted a shot at Tech’s back row, knocking down the defender en route to a quick 5-1 edge. Benefitting from Tech attack errors, Kansas quickly pulled further away, 12-4, which helped the Jayhawks deflect a mini 4-1 Red Raider scoring run.

Midway through the second set, Tolefree connected on her fifth kill in five swings, Dockery knocked down her fourth kill of the night and then the duo combined for the Jayhawks’ eighth block of the match – all but breaking the Red Raiders. With the 19-11 advantage, KU refused to let up. Two-straight McClinton kills brought on set point before another from Tolefree wrapped up set two, 25-16.

Dockery, who didn’t notch a kill in the first set, tied Tolefree with four kills for the team lead in the second. As a unit, KU again recorded only three attack errors for the set, good for a .371 attack percentage for the set.

Out of the break with a commanding 2-0 lead, Kansas hit the gas even harder to start the third set. Jarmoc and Carmichael busted out a 5-0 run by themselves to fire the Jayhawks out to a 9-3 lead.

Attempting to stop the visiting team’s momentum, Tech used a timeout, but to no avail. Kansas never let the Red Raiders get closer than five points and would run the lead past 10 on multiple occasions as the Jayhawks passed the 20-point mark on a block from McNorton and Jarmoc. Cruising to match point, Tolefree and junior setter Kara Wehrs teamed up for the
final block of the evening taking the set – and the match – 25-15.

Kansas returns home to host No. 19 Iowa State, Wed., Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. The match will be televised by Metro Sports.

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