Jayhawks Come Up Short in Five-Set Thriller Versus Kansas State

LAWRENCE, Kan. – After falling behind two sets to none to its in-state rival, the Jayhawk volleyball team stormed back winning two-straight sets to force a decisive fifth set but was unable to cap off the comeback falling in five sets 25-23, 30-28, 21-25, 21-25, 15-6 on Senior Night to Kansas State.

Following the loss, Kansas fell to 16-14 overall and 7-12 in Big 12 Conference play on the season. With the win, K-State snapped a four-game losing skid and improved to 11-19 overall and 5-14 in the Big 12.

The Jayhawks were led by seniors Karina Garlington and Jenna Kaiser, who finished the game with 17 and 15 kills, respectively. Junior Allison Mayfield also got into double digits with 12 kills. Freshman Brianne Riley led the team with a match-high 30 digs, while sophomore Morgan Boub and junior Nicole Tate contributed 14 and 12, respectively. Tate also led KU with 48 assists.

Kansas kept its in-state rival close the entire first set never falling behind more than four points. The Jayhawks clawed their way back late in the first set, tying the score four times at 17-17, 18-18, 19-19 and 23-23, but were unable to break the ties as the Wildcats took the first set 25-23. Riley led the team with 10 digs during the first set and Kaiser set the pace with five kills.

Much like the first set, the second was close, this time with KU setting the pace and grabbing an early 4-1 lead. Head coach Ray Bechard’s crew would maintain that close edge throughout the set with the Wildcats getting within one point nine times before tying it at 22-22 and eventually extending the match to 30-28, where they would close out KU and take a 2-0 set lead.

Much like the set before it, the third set would also feature an early Jayhawk lead as KU got out in front 3-1 against its in-state rival. The Wildcats would surge back and keep KU close, tying the set at 15 apiece before the Jayhawks would pull away 25-21, taking their first set of the match. Boub’s seven digs and Garlington’s five kills led KU in the third set victory.

The Wildcats set the tone in the fourth set taking an early 3-2 lead and extending their lead to as many as seven points at one point. K-State would also go on a 5-0 run, which gave them an 11-6 lead before Kansas was able to go on a run of its own, (6-0) to come back and shorten the gap at 14-15 and eventually tie the score at 16-apiece. Kansas would take only its second lead of the set at 21-20 and would force a decisive fifth set by edging the Wildcats 25-21. Redshirt freshman Caroline Jarmoc’s .429 attack percentage led KU heading into the final set.

Kansas played catch-up for the majority of the fifth and final set, falling behind early 2-0. KU would get as close as one point, but the Wildcats extended their lead to six points at 10-4 before adding the five remaining points needed to closeout the Jayhawks 15-6 and claim the 3-2 victory.

“In our sport it’s extremely difficult regardless of the opponent to come back from 2-0,” said Bechard. “We started playing better in (sets) three and four but if you don’t get off to a quick start in that fifth set you bury yourself.”

Seniors Garlington, Kaiser, Melissa Manda and Mel Townsend all saw action in the loss in their final home match in the Crimson and Blue. Manda added to her career record of digs with a total of eight and received a commemorative game ball from previous career digs leader Jill (Dorsey) Hall. The four-student athletes were honored following the match in front of a soldout crowd in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

Kansas finishes up its regular season schedule for 2010 against Oklahoma on Saturday, Nov. 27 in Norman. Match time is scheduled for 3 p.m.