🏐 Jayhawks Fall to Loyola Marymount to Open the 2021 Season

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Kansas volleyball opened the 2021 season losing a hard-fought four-set match to Loyola Marymount, 3-1 (17-25, 23-25, 25-23, 24-26), in the opening round of the Reamer Club Xtra Special Premier at Holloway Gymnasium on the Purdue University campus Saturday afternoon.

The match was the season opener for Kansas, falling to 0-1 for the first time since 2013, ending a seven-year run of opening-match victories. Loyola Marymount improved to 1-1 after a season-opening loss to Purdue on August 27.

Kansas was led by graduate senior Jenny Mosser with 11 kills and five digs for the match. Freshman Caroline Bien added nine kills, while redshirt senior Anezka Szabo and sophomore Caroline Crawford had eight kills each. Senior Rachel Langs posted eight total blocks for the match, including two solo. Szabo also had five block assists in the effort, while sophomore setter Elisa McGhie led KU with 24 assists. KU went with a two-setter system for the match with graduate senior Sara Nielsen recording 12 assists.

“You had three-straight games where it was 23 all and whoever makes the most aggressive volleyball-savvy plays wins the match,” KU head coach Ray Bechard said following the match. “We can certainly learn some lessons from what we call in-game or red zone where there were times they were a little bit more aggressive than we were. Though disappointing, there is a lot of opportunity to learn from this.”

Kansas started slow, dropping the first set 25-17. Up 14-11, Loyola Marymount went on 5-0 run to create a cushion it would not relinquish on the Jayhawks. For the first set, KU was led by Bien who connected on all three of her kill attempts. Mosser, Langs and Crawford each posted two kills for the set.

In the second set no team led by more than three points as Kansas built a 4-1 early advantage, which included a kill by Crawford. The Jayhawks went up 11-8 after an ace by McGhie but LMU responded scoring seven of the next nine points of the frame. KU would battle back with back-to-back kills by Crawford to tie the set at 16-16. Later Szabo would also post back-to-back kills to knot the score at 21-21. The set was tied at 23 and LMU scored the final two points to go up 2-0 for the match.

Kansas won the third set, 25-23, behind five kills from Mosser and three kills and by Szabo. Langs joined Szabos to post two block assists in the set. The frame had seven ties, including six beginning at the 15-15 mark. With the score tied at 19-19, Kansas went on a 5-1 run that ended with a block solo by Langs. LMU stormed back to pull within one before Szabo ended the set with her sixth kill of the match, three of those in the third frame.

Kansas built an 11-5 lead in the fourth set highlighted by two block solos from Langs. Down 13-8, Loyola Marymount went on a 9-1 run to take a 17-14 lead. Once again, KU would battle back as the set would be tied six times after freshman London Davis’ third kill of the frame to knot the score at 18-18. Down the stretch Mosser connected on three of her four kills in the set but KU came up two points short as LMU finished the match with a block solo and kill to break a 24-24 tie.

“Overall as a team, we felt like we could have been cleaner and more aggressive late in sets and therein lies the difference,” Bechard said.

Kansas will conclude the round-robin style tournament and will play host and No. 8 Purdue on Sunday, August 29, at 1 p.m. Fans can watch the contest on the BTN+ network or follow live stats at KUAthletics.com.

“We felt like this team needed to challenged early and that’s why we set this up,” Bechard said. “Loyola Marymount and Purdue are high-level opponents. The opportunity to see growth will be more apparent when you play teams at this level. We’ll stick our nose in there and compete hard tomorrow.”