🏐 No. 17 Kansas Takes Down No. 13 BYU in Provo
PROVO, Utah – The No. 17 Kansas Volleyball team knocked off the No. 13 BYU Cougars (23-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-22) on Friday night in Smith Fieldhouse. Kansas has beaten two different ranked Big 12 opponents in back-to-back matches for the first time since 2018, after already defeating No. 23 Baylor earlier this week.
Kansas is the first team to beat BYU at home this season, ending a 12-match winning streak for the Cougars in Smith Fieldhouse. The Kansas win was only the eighth BYU loss at home in the last nine seasons, a total of 133 matches.
With the win, the Jayhawks improved to 21-5 on the season and 12-4 in Big 12 play, while BYU dropped to 22-6 overall and 11-5 in conference action. The victory moved Kansas into sole possession of second place in the Big 12 standings.
“There were two really good teams out there tonight, and a great atmosphere,” said Kansas Head Coach Ray Bechard. “You just had a sense that it was a really important match for both sides. We had great performances from Cooper and Ayah offensively, but everybody, whether it be serving or defense or whatever it is, chipped in and created an opportunity for us to win.”
Things started out evenly, with neither team getting more than a three-point lead through the first part of set one. Both teams were doing well off the block, making for a fun battle at the net. Kansas called a timeout once BYU got up 7-12, looking to stop the home team from pulling away. The Cougars were able to get up 9-15, but some strong team defense as well as two kills from Ayah Elnady helped bring the Jayhawks closer at 13-15, which caused a Cougar timeout. BYU tried to hang onto their lead, but Reagan Cooper started heating up, hitting two big kills and pushing Kansas into the lead once again at 17-16. The set was then tied at 17-17, 18-18 and 19-19 before BYU would regain a two-point lead at 19-21. Kansas continued to apply pressure, however, staying within one point of the Cougars until tying it back up again at 22-22. The next point went to KU as a won battle at the net by Camryn Turner put the Jayhawks up by one and forced another BYU timeout. The BYU attack finished the set strong, winning set one in a narrow 23-25 victory.
Set two started in a similar fashion, with both sides going point-for-point until Kansas pulled ahead at 8-4 and initiated an early BYU timeout. The Cougars closed in by cutting the margin to two points, but Kansas answered with four more of their own, highlighted by back-to-back kills by Elnady that would make BYU take their second timeout at 12-6. Despite Kansas’ strong offensive presence, the Cougars began their slow climb to close up the score once again, getting it as tight as 17-14. The Jayhawks didn’t waiver though, extending their lead back out to 19-14. London Davis came up big on the Jayhawks’ 21st and 22nd points with two consecutive kills, putting Kansas up six points, but BYU started gaining a little bit of momentum. At 22-19, Kansas called a timeout, and they were able to close out the set with huge kills from Davis, Elnady and Cooper, respectively.
The third set was another tight one, with both teams really battling for a lead this time. The Jayhawks went down 6-10 and called a timeout, but were able to claw their way back into it to tie it up at 12-12, pushing BYU to call a timeout as well. Errors on both sides of the court made for a somewhat choppy flow of play. When Kansas got down 14-17, they used their second timeout, looking to flip the momentum back in their favor. At 15-18, Elnady knocked down back-to-back kills, and a BYU error led to an 18-18 tie. The score stayed even at 19-19 and 20-20, but the Jayhawks went on a mini-run to make it 23-20. BYU answered with back-to-back points, but Cooper got the Jayhawks back on track again with a huge kill to make it 24-22. BYU ended a long rally with a kill, but Cooper ended the set with an even bigger kill, giving the Jayhawks a 2-1 lead.
The Cougars started off stronger in this set, getting a three-point lead on the Jayhawks at 3-6. From there, however, Kansas kicked it into gear, and tied the score at 8-8. BYU got some momentum, but KU shut it down real quick to make things 11-11. BYU’s went on a small rally once again, but the Jayhawks remained focused, tying it up at 15-15, and making BYU call a timeout at 16-15 after a Raegan Burns ace. From there, KU went on a three-point run until BYU challenged a touch and won, making it 18-16. The Jayhawks knocked down two more points, but BYU began to close in once again, and at 20-19, KU called a timeout. It was an absolute battle to the finish, with Kansas leading 22-20 at one point and BYU closing in at 23-22. Two BYU errors would account for the Jayhawks’ 24th and 25th point, ending the match in four.
Cooper finished the night by tying her career best of 25 kills, hitting .429 in the process. Elnady posted 18 kills and a .371 hitting clip, also playing a huge part in the Kansas offense tonight.
Turner recorded 49 assists, while also adding seven digs, three blocks and two kills to her stat line for the night. Myers led with six total blocks for the Jayhawks, while Burns and Katie Dalton each posted team-leading 13 digs a piece.
The Jayhawks will take on the Bearcats in Cincinnati on Wednesday, November 21st. The match will be broadcast on ESPN+.