No. 20 Kansas Drops Road Match at Baylor, 3-1

WACO, Texas – A combined 25 kills from middle blockers Caroline Jarmoc and Tayler Tolefree couldn’t lift the 20th-ranked Kansas volleyball team over Baylor as the Jayhawks fell Saturday night at the Ferrell Center, 10-25, 25-27, 26-24, 23-25.

For the first time this season, Kansas (20-5, 8-3) fell to a team outside of the NCAA’s top-40 RPI as Baylor (17-9, 3-8) came in at No. 62. The Jayhawks shook off its worst margin of defeat this season in the first set, lost the next frame by the slimmest margin possible before forcing a fourth set. Kansas continued to shake off its rocky start in the final frame, tying the score at 22-22 and 23-23, but ultimately fell short of forcing a fifth set.

“When you hit negative, don’t defend and don’t respect the opportunity to compete, that’s what happens,” head coach Ray Bechardsaid of the first set. “Right or wrong, we moved on from that and tried to put ourselves in a position to be successful and the next three are two-point games. They took a little bit heavier swings and came up with the plays they needed to.”

Jarmoc led the Jayhawks with 15 kills, committing one error to finish the evening with a .500 attack percentage. Tolefree collected 10 kills for the second-straight match, while freshman outside hitter Tiana Dockery and sophomore outside hitter Sara McClintonadded eight kills apiece.

Defensively, Tolefree led the way with five blocks while junior libero Brianne Riley added a team-high 19 digs. Junior setter Erin McNortonrecorded her eighth double-double of the year with 41 assists and 13 digs, moving her into ninth all-time at Kansas in career assists (1,243).

Baylor was led by junior outside hitter Zoe Adom’s 19 kills, while senior middle hitter Torri Campbell finished behind her with 15. Senior setter Kate Harris dished out 54 assists and 11 digs, for her Big 12-leading 15th double-double of the year.

Aside from a handful of attack errors and a pair of kills from senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree, little fell in the Jayhawks’ favor as they suffered their worst defeat in a set this season, 25-10. Kansas hit -.071 for the set and the Bears’ handed KU a first-set loss for just the sixth time in 2012.

The Jayhawks came out refocused in the second set, grabbing their first lead of the evening off of kills from Jarmoc and Dockery. A shot to the middle of the court from sophomore outside hitter Chelsea Albersextended the Kansas lead, 11-8. Meanwhile, a series of service errors from both squads knotted the score through the midway mark, 15-15.

McClinton ran down a diving dig from Jarmoc to keep a play alive, and later won the point with her own kill as KU calmed down and began to take control of the second set. Although the Jayhawks have built a reputation on their ability to close out sets, they couldn’t hold on to a 23-20 lead late in the second set. KU fell 27-25 to head to the break trailing 0-2 for only the third time this season.

Unwilling to fold, the Jayhawks came out strong again in set three, climbing out to a 12-9 lead off of an ace from Jarmoc. She struck again for back-to-back kills to keep the Jayhawks ahead, 17-15. Finding an offensive rhythm, both teams traded points to set up an exciting finish. Jarmoc’s seventh kill of the set handed the Jayhawks the 25-24 lead and one play later, she and Dockery would combine for a block – forcing a fourth set, 26-24.

The fourth set started much like the third ended, hotly contested with neither team allowing room for a lead greater than two or three points. After Baylor sparked for an 11-7 edge, Bechard called a beneficial timeout. The Jayhawks came out and scored the next two points out of the pause before a block by Jarmoc and McNorton tied the set, 13-13, and forced a timeout on Baylor’s side.

BU’s timeout proved less helpful as Kansas fired off a 4-0 run directly after, prompting the Bears’ last timeout of the set. With KU holding its largest lead of the night at 17-13, the home team mounted an 8-2 rally to climb in front, 21-19.

Kansas would rally to tie the score, 22-22 and 23-23, but fell short of forcing a fifth set, dropping the set, 25-23, and the match, 3-1.

The No. 20 Jayhawks stay on the road for a highly-anticipated match against rival and nationally-ranked Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., on Wednesday, Nov. 7. First serve is set for 7 p.m.