Kansas Suffers Second Loss of Season in Big 12 Opener to No. 8 Texas

AUSTIN, Texas – Despite 14 kills from senior outside hitter Allison Mayfield and four blocks by redshirt sophomore middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc, No. 8 Texas handed Kansas its second loss of the season, Saturday afternoon at Gregory Gymnasium, 20-25, 21-25, 17-25.

Mayfield led both teams with her 14-kill performance, while Jarmoc led the floor with four blocks on the afternoon. But neither the duo, nor the rest of the Jayhawks (11-2), could stop a powerful Texas (8-3) offense that hit .384 as a team – including a .545 mark in the final set alone.

The reasoning behind the Longhorns’ many preseason conference accolades was apparent even with Kansas applying constant pressure. Texas received double-digit kills from freshman Haley Eckerman and Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, senior middle blocker, Rachael Adams. The Big 12’s Freshman of the Year selection, Khat Bell, led the Longhorns with 13 kills.

As predicted the blocking war was an intense one. Heading into the match Texas’ Adams came in as the top blocker in the conference, while KU’s Jarmoc stands at No. 2. Jarmoc finished the afternoon with four to Adams’ three, but the Longhorns’ edged the Jayhawks as a team, 8-7.

A leadoff block by freshman outside hitter Chelsea Albers and junior middle blocker Tayler Tolefreesparked the Jayhawks’ early 4-1 lead to open the first set. Texas responded with a quick 4-0 run to set the tone for a back-and-forth battle through much of the first two sets.

Service errors plagued both teams in the first set, but KU’s third one gave Texas the 11-7 lead and prompted a timeout from head coach Ray Bechard. The Longhorns came out of the break to climb out to a 16-9 advantage, despite another block from Tolefree.

Sophomore setter Erin McNorton set up fellow sophomore setter Kara Wehrsfor the kill, closing the Longhorn lead, 15-21. Kills from Mayfield and Albers helped cause further damage to UT’s lead, 19-23, warranting a timeout from Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott. The Longhorns closed out the first set using a kill from Bell, 25-20.

After both teams hit under .200 in the opening frame, Kansas swung for a .297 attack efficiency in the second set, highlighted by seven kills from Mayfield. The four-time Big 12 champs recorded a .500 attack percentage to negate a solid Jayhawk effort.

Jarmoc connected on a kill for the first point of the second set. Back-to-back kills for freshman outside hitter Sara McClintonand Jarmoc pushed Kansas out to the 6-4 advantage. Never far behind, Texas benefitted from an Adams’ kill to even the score, 8-8.

Kansas brought a few rally weapons of its own, which Tolefree displayed when she slammed an unassisted kill on Texas’ side of the floor to help the Jayhawks climb to a 14-11 lead. Mayfield executed a brilliant tip, pushing her team to a 15-12 advantage and Elliott used another timeout.

After Kansas ran out to a 17-14 lead, Texas answered with a 3-0 run, forcing Bechard to pause the action. Jarmoc placed a heads-up kill to keep the Jayhawk pressure on, 20-22. As UT reached match point, a service error ended the set in the Longhorns’ favor, 25-21.

Down two sets, Kansas came out firing in the third set as three kills and a service ace from Mayfield kept the Jayhawks in it early, 8-10. Mayfield and Tolefree went up with authority, slamming down another block to creep closer, 12-14.

Kansas refused to surrender as Mayfield ripped down a kill following a media timeout to stay within two. But, Adams tallied two-straight kills and a block assist to see the Longhorns stretch their lead, 19-13.

Jarmoc’s sixth kill of the match narrowed the deficit, but the Longhorns had reached full speed. A service ace from Madelyn Hutson finished the set and the match for the home team, 25-17.

The Jayhawks will receive no relief from intense competition when they return home to host nationally ranked Iowa State in their first midweek match of the season. First serve is set for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., and will be televised by Metro Sports.