Kansas Strikes First but Falls to In-State Rival Kansas State, 3-1
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Despite 17 kills from senior outside hitter Allison Mayfield and a commanding first-set victory, the University of Kansas volleyball team fell to Kansas State in the first round of the Sunflower State Showdown, Wednesday in front of a sold-out crowd at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, 25-19, 21-25, 20-25, 12-25.
As the team has done for much of Big 12 play, Kansas (12-8, 0-7) out-blocked its counterpart (13.0/9.5), and recorded just three fewer in the kills, assists and digs categories. Kansas State (15-6, 4-3) found a way to win, despite the Jayhawks jumping out and taking control with a first-set victory.
“In volleyball, you can do a lot of things right and if you don’t make a play to terminate it, it’s not going to go your way,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “We out-blocked them and we dug well, but the phase of the game we had to be good in tonight was pass and serve and we weren’t there. We made hustle plays and we played hard, but when those two phases aren’t where they need to be it’s going to get muddied up.”
Mayfield’s 17 kills now give her 1,136 for her career, which puts her in ninth place all-time in Kansas volleyball history. She reached the feat after the first set when she recorded four kills. Sophomore Caroline Jarmoc also finished with double-figure kills (10).
Senior Nicole Tate led the Jayhawks with 38 assists, while falling just short of her second double-double of the season with nine digs. Tate was one of three Jayhawks who came up one dig shy of double digits, while sophomore libero Brianne Riley led the floor with 18.
Kansas State’s Lilla Porubek and Kaitlynn Pelger led the way for the Wildcats as they recorded 15 and 13 kills, respectively. Pelger, the only attacker in the Big 12 with better overall kills and points per set numbers than Mayfield, hit .423 on the evening.
As a team, the Jayhawks finished the night with a .182 attack percentage, while Kansas State managed a .207 attack efficiency. Kansas, however, committed an uncharacteristic seven service errors on the evening, which helped the Wildcats build a sizeable lead in each of the last three sets.
In set one, the Wildcats used a 5-0 run to take a 12-11 lead forcing Bechard to take a timeout. Ready to defend its home court, Kansas would use a run of its own, scoring four-straight points to give the Jayhawks a 19-15 lead. KU would go on to score the final four points in the first set to win, 25-19.
Mayfield and freshman outside hitter Sara McClinton paced the Jayhawks in set one as they each recorded four kills apiece. As a team, KU finished the first set with a .371 attack percentage and four blocks.
After trading points to start the second set, Kansas State used a 5-1 run to get out to an early 15-11 lead. Following a punishing kill from junior Tayler Tolefree, the Jayhawks went on a 5-0 run of their own to regain the lead at 17-16. The second set would feature 15 ties and seven lead changes. However, the Wildcats would end the second set on a 4-0 run to win, 25-21, and tie the match at 1-1.
Tolefree led the Jayhawks with five kills in the second set with a blistering attack percentage of .833. Mayfield added four more kills in set two, as Tate racked up 12 assists. KSU’s Lilla Porubek was a force in the second set as she paced the Wildcats with seven kills and an attack percentage of .500.
Kansas State again jumped out to an early lead to begin the third set as the Wildcats led early on, 9-6, forcing Bechard to use a timeout. The Jayhawks could not close the gap any closer than two points the rest of the way as KSU took a 25-20 win and a 2-1 lead into set four.
Mayfield had another solid set as she finished the fourth with seven kills, good for an attack percentage of .385. Meanwhile, Tate dished out 11 more assists.
In the fourth set, Kansas fell behind early as was never able to recover as the Jayhawks dropped set four, 25-12. Tate made an example of the Jayhawks’ relentless spirit when early in the set she made a spectacular save to get the ball over the net, but it was KSU’s night as the Wildcats took the point and the match, 3-1.
Next Saturday, the Jayhawks will welcome the Texas Tech Red Raiders to the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. First serve is set for 6:30 p.m.