RCW: Sport Spotlight 4.10 (Volleyball)
During KU’s victory over Oklahoma on Oct. 25, senior defensive specialist Tori Miller served a 9-0 Kansas run at the end of the fourth set which turned out to be KU’s second-longest run of the season. Kansas didn’t end up winning the fourth set, but the 9-0 run proved to be enough momentum to propel Kansas to a five-set win over the Sooners.
“Every point has value regardless of what the score is and that run played a big part in swinging the momentum of the match,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said.
What made last Wednesday’s streak of points even more special was that Miller’s 10 serves during the run all came during 10 OU set points.
Facing a 24-13 deficit, the first point during KU’s 9-0 run was a service error by OU’s Emma Kelly, which was the side-out needed to put KU’s serve in Miller’s hands.
Miller served the next nine pressure-filled points until the end of the set. By the end of the set, although Kansas lost a 25-22 decision, fans inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center were on their feet cheering on the never-say-die effort the Jayhawks were putting on display.
When senior All-American Kelsie Payne was asked after the match who to credit for the 9-0 run, she went right to Miller’s effort at the service line.
“Tori serving, for one, gave us a huge boost,” Payne said of her classmate. “Her serves got them out of system in seven out of the nine balls, including an ace, and we helped that effort by blocking well and playing hard for those nine points.”
Kansas went on to win the fifth set, 15-13, to clinch the victory over Oklahoma.
Looking closer into KU’s runs of seven-straight points or more this season, it turns out Miller was the perfect person to have at the service line to lift KU’s momentum during that crucial fourth set last Wednesday.
Kansas has had eight runs of 7-0 or greater this season; six of those runs were with Miller serving.
The Derby, Kansas, native also manned the service line during KU’s longest run of the season — a 10-0 run at the end of the fourth set during a five-set victory over then-No. 18 Iowa State.
Miller, who serves from nearly 10 feet behind the end line, describes her technique.
“I go as far back as I can — it depends on each gym,” Miller explained. “It takes time to figure out the depth perception in each gym and how hard I can serve. Whenever I serve it with some velocity from that far back, it floats in the air similar to a knuckle-ball pitch in baseball. Pretty much, I am putting as much controlled pace on the serve to get them out of system.”
KANSAS RUNS OF 7-0 OR GREATER THIS SEASON
|Run||Set||Opponent||Primary KU Server|
|8||1st||vs. San Jose State||Miller|
|7||4th||vs. San Jose State||Miller|
BIG 12 SUCCESS
KU’s loss at No. 22 Iowa State on Saturday, Oct. 28, snapped a 42-match conference winning streak against teams other than the Texas Longhorns. Earlier this season, No. 3 Texas broke KU’s 19-match Big 12 winning streak. The Jayhawks are 27-3 in the last 30 conference matches.