Riley Sets Record, Jayhawks Sweep on Senior Day
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Junior libero Brianne Riley broke KU’s career digs record, leading the No. 20 Jayhawks to their 12th sweep of the season against Texas Tech, 25-11, 25-19, 25-19, Saturday afternoon on Senior Day inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
Riley, a Naperville, Ill. native, finished the match with 11 digs to give her 1,459 for her career, eclipsing the previous mark set by Melissa Manda(1,457, 2007-10) in just three seasons. She contributed to the strong defensive effort in Kansas’ (25-6, 12-4) sweep over Texas Tech (14-18, 3-13) on Senior Day.
“In three years, we were talking about that in the locker room,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechardsaid. “Everybody’s on Bri, but nobody gives her enough credit for the competitor she is, but she’s been a big part of our success this year and in years past.”
Saturday’s match marked the last regular-season home match of 2012, which has seen more home wins (16) than any other season in Kansas history. KU’s three seniors: middle blocker Tayler Tolefree, defensive specialist Morgan Boub and outside hitter Sylvia Bullock guided the Jayhawks to a historic season in which the team has spent eight-straight weeks in the top-25, earned a program-best 17th-ranking in the country and a current No. 6 RPI ranking, which is also the best in school history. Following the match, each senior was recognized and gave speeches of thanks to friends, family and fans.
“We’re excited that this isn’t the last time that we’ll get to see them play,” Bechard said. “It’s not goodbye and that’s really cool. It’s probably the last time we’re all in Horejsi together, but we’ll get to play again so we’re looking forward to that.”
The Jayhawks were led offensively by sophomore outside hitter Chelsea Albers, who finished the match with 11 kills and a career-best .611 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Sara McClinton also reached double figures with 10 kills and a .292 hitting percentage. With Riley manning the back row, six Jayhawks recorded a block, led by Tolefree who totaled six for the match and redshirt junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc, who finished with five.
Leading the way for the Red Raiders was sophomore outside hitter Breeann David who had a team-high eight kills. Facilitating the Red Raider offense was freshman setter Emily Ruetter who led the team with 14 assists. The Tech defense was led by sophomore libero Rachel Brummitt on the backline, who finished with 11 digs and sophomore middle blocker Mikia Mills who led the Red Raider front line with four total blocks.
Tolefree got started early on Senior Day, connecting on the first two points of the match to give Kansas an early, 2-0, lead in the opening set. The Jayhawks would extend their lead with a 4-0 run to give them a six-point lead, 10-4, and force a Texas Tech timeout. After Texas Tech took the first point out of the timeout, Kansas answered with another 4-0 run and the Red Raiders were forced to take another timeout. This time the Red Raiders would respond with a 4-0 run of their own, to bring the set within five, 14-9. The Jayhawks answered loudly, closing the set with nine-straight points capped off by a combined block from redshirt juniors outside hitter Catherine Carmichael and Jarmoc, to close out the Red Raiders, 25-11. Tolefree, Jarmoc and McClinton led the Kansas offense in the set, recording four kills each. Facilitating the balanced attack for KU was junior setter Erin McNorton, finishing the set with 14 assists. McNorton finished with 36 assists for the afternoon.
Texas Tech started the second set strong, using an early 3-0 run to take a 5-2 lead. The Jayhawks got back in front with a 4-0 run of their own to take the lead, 9-8, and force another Texas Tech timeout. KU maintained its lead for the rest of the set, before closing out the Red Raiders, 25-19. Jarmoc, Tolefree and Albers recorded three kills each to lead the Kansas offense in the set.
Coming out of the break the teams matched each other point-for-point early on, before Texas Tech used a 3-0 run to create separation and take an early 8-5 lead. The Jayhawks pushed back with a 7-0 rally, highlighted by a play in which Riley recorded back-to-back digs to claim the all-time digs record, and take back the lead, 14-9.
Kansas would control the rest of the set before closing it out, 25-19, on a service error from the Red Raiders. Bullock, after getting her first career start on Senior Day, returned to the match to record a kill amidst the late KU run. Albers led the Jayhawk offense in the set, recording six kills with a .667 hitting percentage.
Jarmoc’s five total blocks gives her 402 for her career, making her the fourth Jayhawk in program history to record 400 career blocks. McNorton’s 36 assists extends her total to 1,354 for the season, moving her into third place on KU’s all-time single season assists list.
The No. 20 Jayhawks will learn their postseason fate tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. when the NCAA Tournament field is announced. The selection show will be televised on ESPNU.
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