Jayhawks Sweep Billikens Inside Allen Fieldhouse
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Junior libero Brianne Rileyset KU’s single season digs record, leading the defensively sound No. 20 Jayhawks to their 11th sweep of the season against Saint Louis, 25-16, 25-16, 25-12, Wednesday night in front of 3,222 fans inside historic Allen Fieldhouse.
Riley, a Naperville, Ill. native, finished the match with 18 digs to give her 563 for the season, breaking a 26-year old record set by Catalina Suarez (549) in 1986. She led the defense in Kansas’ (24-6, 11-4) sweep over Saint Louis (10-20, 4-10). Riley’s 18 digs brings her career total to 1,448, leaving her just 10 shy of breaking KU’s all-time career digs mark set by Melissa Manda(2007-2010) with 1,457.
“The single season is good, but to get to the career record in only three years is pretty ridiculous,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “She’s the best competitor we’ve had at that position. She’s non-stop communicator that believes in herself and believes in this team.”
Riley’s effort helped the Jayhawks out-dig a Billiken squad that averages nearly 18 digs per match, one of the goals Bechard set for his team on Wednesday. More historicially speaking, it helped the 2012 squad achieve the best winning percentage in program history (.800).
“You don’t think about those things, you think about how the team responds at this moment,” Bechard said. “We’ll be able to reflect on the entirety of the season, but it was cool to play in a setting like that where it really means something. There was a good-size crowd involved in the match that was excited about Kansas volleyball. There’s no guarantee that we’ll play in there again, but we’ll be a better team for it because of that experience.”
Offensively the Jayhawks were led by senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree, who finished the match with eight kills and a .545 hitting percentage. With Riley in the back row, Tolefree and redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc led the Kansas front line, each recording three total blocks in the match. Junior setter Erin McNorton recorded her tenth double-double of the year, finishing the match with 22 assists and 12 digs.
SLU was led offensively by freshman middle blocker Megan Gilbert, who finished the match with nine kills with a .167 hitting percentage. Defensively, the Billikens were led by junior defensive specialist Grace Bonoma who finished the match with 11 digs and senior middle blocker Carly Marcum who recorded two total blocks.
Collectively, Wednesday played witness to a rare occurrence as neither team had a player in double-digit kills. That marked the first time for Kansas since Oct. 26, 2011 against Iowa State, which ended in a 3-0 loss.
The Jayhawks came out hot, taking four of the first five points to build and early 4-1 lead over the Billikens. After SLU took two of the next three points, Kansas responded with seven of the next eight to extend the lead, 12-4, and force a visitor timeout. The early advantage would be all the Jayhawks needed, leading by at least five for the remainder of the set, before closing out the Billikens, 25-16, on a kill from Jarmoc who was a perfect 4-for-4 in the set. Tolefree led the Kansas offense with five kills and a .833 hitting percentage in the set.
Saint Louis played Kansas close to open the second set. With Kansas leading, 9-6, the Jayhawks used a 3-0 run to extend their lead, 12-6. KU would keep the pressure on, building its lead to nine, 19-10, late in the set. The Jayhawks would match their largest lead of the set, 23-14, when junior setter Kara Wehrs recorded her first ace of the season. KU would go on to close out the set, 25-16, on an attack error by the Billikens. Redshirt junior outside hitter Catherine Carmichael led the Kansas offense in the set, recording four kills with a .500 hitting percentage. Junior libero Brianne Rileyrecorded three digs in the set; to secure KU’s single season digs record.
Coming out of the break, the Jayhawks continued to roll, slowly building their lead, with the help of a 3-0 run midway through the set to double up the Billikens, 12-6, and force a Saint Louis timeout. Coming out of the timeout, KU would score ten of the next 13 points to give them their largest lead of the set, 20-9, and force a Saint Louis timeout. The Jayhawks would eventually close out the set, 25-12, completing their 11th sweep of the season. Sophomore outside hitter Sara McClintonled the Kansas offense in the set, with three kills and a .500 hitting percentage, while Riley added 12 digs to her total, to lead the Jayhawk defense.
Playing inside Allen Fieldhouse for the first time since Oct. 15, 1999, the Jayhawks never trailed in front of their largest crowd of the season to put away the sweep.
UP NEXT The No. 20 Jayhawks will take the court again on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 1 p.m., when they host Texas Tech for senior day inside the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
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