🏐 Kansas Bests K-State in Five-Set Thriller

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Led by a career-high 28-kill performance from London Davis, the No. 14 Kansas volleyball team notched a five-set victory over K-State (25-16, 25-23, 20-25, 19-25, 15-12) in the Dillon’s Sunflower Showdown on Friday night in the Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena.

With the victory, the Jayhawks move to 17-4, 8-3 Big 12, while K-State is now 13-9, 7-6 Big 12.

“We were gritty,” said Head Coach Ray Bechard. “It wasn’t a masterpiece, but we made enough plays in the end. K-State is certainly playing at a very high level. London Davis carried us offensively, and we got enough out of the rest of our group to make it happen.”

Two of the Jayhawks first four points were aces from juniors Camryn Turner and Caroline Bien, which sent quite the message from the jump. Raegan Burns hopped on the trend shortly after, putting the Jayhawks up 8-2 and causing K-State to take its first timeout. From there, the Wildcats evened the playing field a bit, closing things up at 12-10. However, KU’s Ayah Elnady would propel the Jayhawks forward offensively, along with Davis and Turner joining in on the attack, and K-State would call its second timeout at 18-13. With Bien on the serve, KU went on a 3-0 scoring run, making it 21-13 before the Wildcats would finally record their next point. Burns went on to knock down her second ace on the 24th point, and after a long rally, Davis brought the hammer down to end it at 25-16 in favor of the home team.

K-State found themselves in the lead in the second up 8-6 on the scoreboard. The Jayhawks continued to fight their way back into the mix, closing it up at a mere one-point deficit until K-State began to run up the score once again. Down 13-9, Kansas called a timeout, and K-State answered with another point. A big kill from Davis ended another long rally right after, making it 14-10. KU used its second timeout down 17-10, and from there, the Jayhawks began chipping away at a comeback. The score would read 20-15, then 21-18 after a gritty few points from the Jayhawks. K-State called a timeout here, and the Jayhawks then knocked down back-to-back kills to tie it up at 21-21. Davis notched her 15th kill of the match to get the Jayhawks tied back up at 22-22, and K-State called its second timeout with the Jayhawks up 23-22. After back-to-back points by K-State, KU won a challenge on a Wildcat in the net. Elnady would bring home to come-from-behind victory on the kill, ending yet another long rally for the 25-23 second-set KU victory.

Set three saw more of a solid offense from the visiting Wildcats, as things were back-and-forth up through 9-9. Reagan Cooper recorded a solo block to make it 10-9, but from there, K-State started to pull away with the momentum. The Wildcats built a 19-11 at one point, forcing the Jayhawks to make some changes in their attack. The score got as close as 20-15 with Davis continuing to step up on offense, and players like Bien and Elnady also recording kills. Things got tight toward the end, but at set point for the Wildcats, Molly Schultz checked in to serve, knocking down an ace on her second serve to push the score to 24-20 and force a Wildcat timeout. Despite another great serve from the senior right after, K-State grabbed the 25-20 victory.

Set four took a similar tone from the beginning, with the two teams going point for point up through 4-4. Katie Dalton broke the pattern by knocking down an ace at 5-4, but K-State answered right back with a kill to tie it up once again. The Wildcats went up 8-6, but Bien kept the Jayhawks in close with a kill to make it 8-7. There would be three more ties before the Wildcats nabbed a narrow two-point lead, pushing for a Jayhawk timeout down 13-11. A 3-0 scoring run highlighted by back-to-back swings from Elnady got KU up once again at 14-13. From there, the ties continued and at 19-19, K-State then went on a six-point run and ended the set there.

Ties up through 3-3 kicked off the fifth set until an electric block from Toyosi Onabanjo and Cooper sent the place into a frenzy. A K-State error put the Jayhawks up 5-3, but the teams started going point-for-point again right after. Five more ties came up through 11-11, and K-State called a timeout after a block from Turner and Onabanjo made it 12-11 in favor of KU. K-State made it interesting at 13-12, but an intense rally ending with another Turner and Onabanjo block put the Jayhawks up 14-12. Bien would end her well-rounded night with the final kill for the Jayhawks, securing the Kansas’ 11th-straight home victory.

Davis ended the night with an outstanding 28 kills and .556 hitting clip, leading the Jayhawk offense. Elnady had herself a night as well with 18 total kills and eight digs on her stat line. Onabanjo posted a team-high eight total blocks, while Burns anchored the defense with 20 digs. Turner and Bien were also in the double-digit digs with 16 and 14 respectively, while Turner also posted 43 assists and Bien added four kills.

“I have been playing DS most of the season and I keep telling my coaches that I want to play more DS,” said Bien. “I want to keep passing, getting better at defense. They are like, ‘you are not going to lose that skill, stay good on the outside.’ It’s for moments like these. This is our biggest game of the season. You never know what’s going to happen.”

The Jayhawks will turn around and take on the Wildcats again tomorrow at 3 p.m. in Horejsi.