Kansas Puts Up Big Numbers, Builds Big Lead in Loss to No. 22 Oklahoma

NORMAN, Okla. –Fueled by a strong performance from its seniors, the University of Kansas volleyball team fired out a 2-0 lead, but couldn’t hold off the top-25 Sooners on their home floor, Saturday evening, 25-23, 25-19, 23-25, 19-25, 9-15.

With both teams looking to end a rough stretch, it was Kansas (12-7, 0-6) who came out and stole the energy in the McCasland Center in the first two sets. After the Jayhawks outhit the Sooners (18-5, 5-2) in the first three sets, however, the Sooners rattled off a .364 attack percentage as a team in the fourth set and hit .400 in the fifth to outlast the visiting Jayhawks.

Senior outside hitter Allison Mayfield led the floor with 21 kills, including a seven-kill onslaught in the opening set. Making her first start of the season, senior setter Nicole Tateposted a KU season-high 59 assists, only five shy of her all-time best.

Tate had plenty of options to dish it the ball to, as four different Jayhawks recorded double-digit kills for the first time since Oct. 7, 2009 – also against Oklahoma. Freshman outside hitter Sara McClinton set a new career-high with her 14 kills, while middle blockers Caroline Jarmoc and Tayler Tolefreecranked out 15 and 12 kills, respectively. The duo also teamed up for 13 blocks.

Defensively, KU received double-digit dig performances from five different Jayhawks for the second time this season, with sophomore libero Brianne Riley’s17 digs leading the team. Tolefree led the team with seven, helping the Jayhawks to 14.0 total blocks as a team.

Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, the Sooners’ blocking game outdid them on Saturday, posting 17.0 total blocks as a unit – led by Big 12 blocking leader Sallie McLaurin. The rest of the stats, for the third match in a row, belonged to the Jayhawks. Kansas posted more kills (68/58), more digs (74/64) and more assists (65/53) than Oklahoma.

McLaurin’s 10 blocks led the floor, and after connecting on just one kill in the first two sets, she finished the match with eight. Freshman outside hitter Tara Dunn led the Sooners with 16 kills.

Mayfield and Tolefree connected on back-to-back kills, while Jarmoc landed an ace to help Kansas out to a 3-0 start in the first set. The Sooners answered with a swift response as a block from Sooner senior middle Carlee Roethlisberger highlighted an 11-3 run that powered Oklahoma to an 11-6 lead before head coach Ray Bechardasked for the timeout.

It was the Jayhawks’ turn to respond, and Mayfield and Jarmoc spoke the loudest out of the timeout. They each threw down a pair of kills to knot the set at 13-13. Led by Mayfield’s seven-kill effort, the duo would rack up 11 kills in the opening frame.

The final points of the first set made for great volleyball with the teams trading points. A massive swing from freshman outside hitter Chelsea Alberschurned out another Jayhawk kill as they climbed ahead, 19-17. Big blocks at the net were kept alive by a pair of athletic digs from Albers and Riley, but a Sooner solo block gave the home team the slim, 22-21 advantage.

Again, Kansas answered, scoring two-straight points out a timeout to go up, 23-22. Another kill apiece for Jarmoc and Mayfield sealed the set in the Jayhawks’ favor, 25-23 – a stat that has previously worked in the Jayahwks’ favor. Kansas is now 12-3 when winning the first set.

Mayfield rolled out three quick kills to boost her team to a 6-1 lead to kickoff the second set. McClinton and Tolefree jumped in on the scoring rally, teaming up for a confident block and helping their team to a 10-3 advantage. Finding no reason to slow down, Riley dropped in a service ace to accompany a pair of kills from McClinton to jump ahead, 13-5. Oklahoma coach Santiago Restrepo signaled for the timeout in an effort to regroup the home team.

The Sooners answered with four-straight kills to narrow the Jayhawk lead, 15-10, and prompting a timeout from the Kansas bench. OU would cut the deficit to three before Mayfield and the Jayhawks stepped up to step on the rally attempt. Mayfield busted out her 12th kill of the match and Jarmoc recorded her second ace of the day as KU surged forward, 22-15. A Tolefree-Albers blocking special brought the Jayhawks to set point before McClinton skimmed an attack off the hand of a Sooner defender to send Kansas to the locker room with the 25-19 victory and a two-set lead.

Although Jarmoc claimed the first point of the third set, Oklahoma used kills from senior setter Brianne Barker to jump out to an 8-5 lead in the early minutes. Getting it done all over the floor, Mayfield dove after an Oklahoma attack but came up empty handed as the Sooners landed the kill to go ahead, 10-8.

Her teammates had her back, as McClinton turned up the heat on her solid afternoon. After logging five kills in the second set, she posted back-to-back scores to help swing the lead back in KU’s favor, 13-12. After the Sooners inched out to a 19-17 lead, the Jayhawks posted two-immediate points to tie the score. A KU service error was quickly forgotten when Jarmoc blew a kill past the Sooner defense to keep the score tied. One play later, she and Tate blocked a ball to take the lead.

A pair of crucial blocks from McLaurin put the Sooners on the board with a 25-23 victory, leaving Kansas with the 2-1 lead.

McLaurin and Dunn were heavily involved in the opening points of the fourth set, as they pushed OU out to a 6-1 lead. Unfazed, Tolefree and Albers chalked up kills and consecutive attack errors cut the Sooner lead to one, 9-8. Back-to-back kills from McClinton sparked the 10-3 Jayhawk run that returned the lead to Kansas and forced an Oklahoma timeout.

Jarmoc laced a pretty kill down the line out of the break, boosting the Kansas lead while preventing the home team from gathering much momentum. However, after a 5-0 Sooner rally, led once again by McLaurin and Dunn, Bechard asked for the timeout. Despite diving-dig efforts from junior defensive specialist Morgan Bouband Mayfield, senior Caitlin Higgins found room to spike a dig that made it over the net for the kill and the 19-15 Sooner lead. McLaurin found the floor again to force a fifth set, 25-19.

Amped up to defend their home floor, the Sooners jumped out to a 3-0 lead in fifth set. Bechard called a timeout to keep the momentum from getting away from his team, but McLaurin, who tallied only one kill in the first two sets, ran out two more to push the Sooners ahead, 8-3.

A pair of costly Jayhawk errors forced KU to take its final timeout of the match, trailing 12-6. Never willing to surrender, Kansas got a solo block from Jarmoc and kills from Mayfield and Tolefree to close the gap, 13-9. An attack error finished the set and the match in Oklahoma’s favor, 15-9.

The Jayhawks will spend a little time at home next week, as they welcome their in-state rival Kansas State on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., and will be televised on Metro Sports. On Saturday, Kansas brings in Texas Tech. The recently announced start time is 6:30 p.m.