🏐 No. 19 Kansas Completes Sweep of No. 20 Houston
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The No. 19 Kansas volleyball team completed its two-match sweep of No. 20 Houston with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-21) before a sold-out crowd Saturday afternoon in the Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena.
With the win, KU improved to 12-2 overall and 3-1 in Big 12 play, while Houston fell to 7-5 (1-2).
“When you come off a two hour and 45 minute match from last night in five sets with both teams just playing extremely hard, you wonder how clean the volleyball is going to be today, and there were times when it did get a little uneven, but we stayed in every set even though we were down in the first two,” said Head Coach Ray Bechard. “We stayed aggressive, and we stayed true to who we want to be. As big as last night’s match was, today’s match was maybe even more impressive to come back and play at the level that we did.”
For the second-straight match, KU graduate Reagan Cooper led the way hitting a blistering .600 with a team-high 15 kills, no errors on 25 attempts. Junior Camryn Turner posted her fourth-straight double-double with 32 assists and 18 digs. Fellow KU junior Ayah Elnady recorded her fifth-straight match with double-digit kills with 11 against the Cougars.
“Last week, when we lost to Texas Tech, we came back with the mentality to come back full force so we knew they (Houston) were going to swing away and play their best game (today),” Turner said. “We had to stay consistent and not worry about what they were doing.”
In the opening set, the Jayhawks had a bit of a slow start, with Houston running up a five-point lead right from the jump and pushing Kansas to call an early timeout. This propelled Kansas into a new gear, as the Jayhawks started to close in on the Cougars. A 12-12 tie that came off a kill from Cooper appeared to be the true turning point for KU, however, because despite Houston pulling away with a four-point lead to make it 13-17, Kansas made it a one-point difference at 17-18 and once again at 19-20. The once-confident Cougars recorded an attacking error to push it to 20-20, and they used their second timeout immediately after. At 21-21, back-to-back Houston errors occurred and Kansas took advantage. A huge block from Mykayla Myers and London Davis would send the place into a frenzy and secure the Jayhawk victory.
Cooper was vital in KU’s success in the first, starting off strong with six kills on eight attempts and racking up an impressive .750 hitting percentage. Junior Toyosi Onabanjo started heating up early as well with four kills on five attempts to hit .800 in set one. Turner notched double-digit assists early on with her 10, as well as adding two huge services that added to Kansas’ early momentum.
Kansas looked strong for the duration of set two, remaining unfazed when the Cougars would start to run up the score a bit. The Jayhawks’ 15th and 16th points (a tip from Turner for the kill followed by a big swing from Cooper for another kill) is where Houston started to look rattled enough to call a timeout. A block from Davis and Myers after the break would make it 17-17. The two teams would go 18-18, then 19-19 before Kansas made it 21-19 and pushed Houston to use its second timeout. The Cougars were able to knock down two more points before the set was over, but a Turner victory at the net followed by the game-winning kill by Onabanjo were enough to put KU up 2-0.
Set three started in a point-for-point fashion, but the last tie came at 5-5 because Kansas went on a bit of a run, pulling away from an obviously flustered visiting side as far as 12-6. Houston attempted to close the gap, and the score read 12-9 until Cooper brought the hammer down to make it 13-9. From here, the Jayhawks looked calm and collected through the remainder of the set and had no issue solidifying the sweep.
The Cougars would end the day hitting .146, while the Jayhawks notched a .279 hitting percentage.
Kansas will travel to Austin, Texas, to face the No. 10 Longhorns on Thursday, Oct. 5, and Friday, Oct. 6. Both matches will start at 7 p.m. CT and will be televised on The Longhorn Network.