Balanced Attack Allows Jayhawks to Knock Off Bears in Five
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Sophomore outside hitter Sara McClinton contributed 15 kills, to help Kansas knock off Baylor in five sets, 25-17, 26-24, 17-25, 23-25, 15-11, Saturday night at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
The victory continued Kansas’ historical run to an unprecedented 4-0 record in conference play, but also marked the first time in program history the Jayhawks’ have won 10-straight at home during a single season. The previous record of nine-straight occurred in the 1979 and 2005 seasons.
McClinton paved the way with 15, making her one of five Jayhawks to chalk up double-digit kills against Baylor (13-6, 0-4). Executing a complete balance, Kansas (16-2, 4-0) received double-digit kills from redshirt junior Catherine Carmichael (14), senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree (11), redshirt junior Caroline Jarmoc (12), while freshman outside hitter Tiana Dockery ended the match with 11, to go along with 13 digs, completing the third double-double of her career.
“We had too many hitting errors, but we did have good balance,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “Then we had everyone contribute in the fifth set. Double-digit kills is critical for us. (Tayler) Tolefree hasn’t been in double digits for us in a while, and (Tiana) Dockery also had double-digits. So if we can keep that going and back off on a few of those hitting errors, it’ll help us.”
Junior setter Erin McNorton facilitated the balanced Kansas attack, finishing the match with 55 assists, a career-high four kills and 14 digs for her fifth double-double of the year. Defensively the Jayhawks showed the same shared effort with four players recording double-digit digs, led by junior libero Brianne Riley’s 22 digs. Aside from Dockery and McNorton, senior defensive Morgan Boub also totaled double-figures with 11 digs. From the service line, Riley also tied a career-high with three aces.
Baylor was led by redshirt junior Zoe Adom who finished with 20 kills and a .314 attack percentage in the loss. Senior setter Kate Harris enabled the Baylor offense, totaling 55 assists and 10 digs for the double-double. Defensively, the Bears were led by freshman utility Adri Nora, who was in on seven blocks and sophomore libero Hope Ogden, who tallied 19 digs.
In the opening set, the teams played each other evenly, resulting in a 12-11 lead for the Jayhawks, midway through the first set. A 3-0 run from the Jayhawks would give them a 15-11 lead and force a Baylor timeout. The Jayhawks would maintain a comfortable lead throughout the rest of the set, as they closed out the Bears, 25-17, on a kill from Dockery. Dockery and McClinton paced the KU offense in the first set, recording four kills each to lead the team. McNorton tallied 15 assists in the set and Tolefree led the Jayhawk defense, assisting on two blocks.
Kansas would carry its momentum into the second set, taking the first three points from the Bears. Baylor would fight back to tie the set at 10, until a 4-1 run from the Jayhawks put them back in front, 14-11, and forced a Baylor timeout. KU would lead by as many as seven, but a 4-0 Baylor run late in the set, would bring the Bears within three, 22-19, and force a Kansas timeout. Three-straight points out of the timeout, extended the Baylor run to seven and tied the score at 22, prompting Bechard to call his last timeout of the set. His team would respond, ending the Baylor run and eventually closing out the set, 26-24, on a 3-0 run while facing set point.
Carmichael led the Jayhawk offense in the set, recording five kills and a .625 hitting percentage. McNorton continued to facilitate the Jayhawk offense, adding 12 assists to her total.
Baylor came out of the break strong, using a 4-0 run to build an early, 6-2, advantage. Baylor would continue to build their lead throughout the set, leading by as many as seven before closing out the Jayhawks, 25-17, on an ace from junior defensive specialist Kayci Evans. Tolefree led the KU offense in the set, recording five kills on a .667 hitting percentage.
With the momentum shifted to Baylor, the Bears carried it into the fourth set, opening with a 5-1 run to force another early Bechard timeout. This time the Jayhawks would respond, slowly cutting the Bears’ lead and forcing a Baylor timeout with the score tied at nine. KU would extend their run to five out of the timeout as a result of two Baylor errors. Back-and-forth play would begin out of a BU timeout, resulting in a 21-20 Baylor lead. The Bears would control the rest of the set, eventually closing out the Jayhawks, 25-23. McClinton led the KU offense with five kills in the set and Jarmoc added four with an .800 hitting percentage.
The Jayhawks were finally able to swing the momentum back in their favor for the fifth set, jumping out to a early 5-2 lead that forced a Baylor timeout. A 3-0 run midway through the set, would put the Jayhawks up four, 10-6. KU would hold serve for the rest of the set, ending the Bears comeback and closing out the set, 15-11, on a kill from Jarmoc.
The Jayhawks will take the court again next Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 6:30 p.m., when they travel to Norman to take on Oklahoma at the McCasland Field House.
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