Kansas Spreads Offense Around in Four-Set Loss to Oklahoma

LAWRENCE, Kan. –Four different Jayhawks registered double-digit kills to post five more on the night than the visiting Sooners, but the Kansas volleyball team couldn’t fend off Oklahoma, falling 20-25, 26-24, 23-25, 17-25 at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center Wednesday night.

Freshman outside hitter Chelsea Albers punched out 10 kills for the first time in her career and committed just two errors to lead the Jayhawks (14-13, 2-12) with a .348 attack percentage.

Kansas received another big effort out of senior outside hitter Allison Mayfield, who led the floor with 18 kills on Wednesday. The senior leader had additional help as freshman Sara McClinton and redshirt sophomore Caroline Jarmoc rang up 12 and 14 kills, respectively, to put four Jayhawks in double-digit figures for the second time this season. The impressive stat last occurred against the Sooners when the two teams met in Norman, Okla., last month. Prior to that, Kansas hadn’t pulled off the rare feat since the 2009 season.

“Albers had a career-high night, which was good. We needed that right-side offense,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “We were a little disappointed in a couple other areas; 26 attack errors is too many – especially when your opponent has 12. We did spread the ball around and were pleased with that. We had five attackers with more than 20 attempts. We just had a few too many errors at key times that kept us from doing what we wanted to do.”

Mayfield contributed 10 digs to her 18 kills for her team-best ninth double-double on the season. Senior setter Nicole Tate led the team with 47 assists to add to her 11 digs, tying sophomore libero Brianne Riley for the team lead. Tate’s double-double on Wednesday marked her fifth in nine starts.

The Jayhawks, who entered the matchup leading the Sooners in blocking in Big 12 play, were out-blocked by the Sooners (20-9, 7-6) on a night when KU searched everywhere to find rhythm. OU tallied 9.5 blocks on the night to KU’s six.

OU’s offense was led by Suzy Boulavsky and Tara Dunn as they finished with 17 and 15 kills, respectively. They were the only Sooners to break the 10-kill mark.

While Kansas racked up 60 kills to Oklahoma’s 55, it was the efficiency that hurt the Jayhawks. As a team, Kansas hit only .211, while Oklahoma hit for potent .316 attack percentage, while KU finished with 26 attack errors to OU’s 12.

In the first set, both squads committed their share of unforced errors. The teams traded points to begin the set with the largest lead being a three-point margin for Oklahoma. However, the Sooners began to distance themselves after a service ace gave the visitors a 20-16 lead.

From there, OU would end the first set with three-straight points to win, 25-20. The Jayhawks won the kills column, 13-12, despite an attack percentage of just .159. Albers, McClinton and Jarmoc each recorded three kills apiece to lead KU. Dunn led all attackers with four kills for Oklahoma.

The Jayhawks came out in the second set rejuvenated as they got out to a 12-8 lead, forcing OU to take a timeout. The Jayhawks would lead by as many as four throughout the set as the Jayhawks evened the match at one set apiece, but had to hold off a serious threat from a team who just completed a 12-week run on the AVCA Top 25 poll.

Trailing 22-18 in the third set, the Sooners mounted a furious comeback only to have the Jayhawks shut the door and win set two, 26-24. Oklahoma tied the set up at 24-24, but KU scored the final two points to tie the match.

Following intermission, KU was in charge for most of the third frame before the Sooners scored four-straight to tie the set, 19-19. After a timeout by Bechard, the Jayhawks regained the lead, 20-19, but OU came right back to score three-straight. Both teams traded points down the stretch before the Sooners notched the final two points to take a crucial 25-23 win in set three.

Mayfield paved the way for KU as she led all attackers in the third set with eight kills and two service aces.

Leading two sets to one, the Sooners flew out to a 12-7 lead in the fourth set, putting a lot of pressure on the Jayhawks. However hard the team battled, KU would come only two points within the Sooners. OU put the Jayhawks away early in the fourth and final set, 25-17.

Unfortunately, the Jayhawks saved their least-efficient hitting set for the final one of the evening. KU only hit .100 compared to Oklahoma’s .345. Jarmoc led the Jayhawks with four kills in the set, but the Sooners pulled away to sweep the season series.

For the first time in 12 weeks, the Jayhawks will not play in a weekend match. Kansas returns to the floor next Wednesday, Nov. 23, for its final road match of the regular season at Kansas State. First serve is set for 7 p.m., from Ahearn Fieldhouse in Manhattan, Kan.