Havili makes history as No. 9 Kansas edged in five by No. 5 Texas
LAWRENCE, Kan. — In the fifth-straight top-10 matchup for Big 12 supremacy between No. 9 Kansas volleyball and No. 5 Texas, the Longhorns prevailed in a five-set thriller on Wednesday night at Horejsi Family Athletics Center (21-25, 27-25, 18-25, 25-10, 18-16).
Softening the blow of KU’s 19-match Big 12 winning streak coming to an end, senior All-American setter Ainise Havili joined the KU record books as the school’s all-time leader in assists. Havili’s 50 assists against UT enabled her to pass Andi Rozum’s record of 4,772 in the second set and finished the night with 4,801.
Senior outside hitter Madison Rigdon led the Jayhawks’ offense with 20 kills on a career-high 65 swings with 11 digs for ninth double-double of the season. Sophomore libero Allie Nelson tied her career high of 28 digs as Texas was held to its lowest hitting percentage in Big 12 play this season (.254).
The Longhorns (13-2, 5-0) were led by freshman Lexi Sun’s 21 kills on a .475 hitting percentage.
Kansas (16-3, 5-1 Big 12) suffers its first loss in over a calendar year — since Sept. 24, 2016 at Texas.
Kansas made its way to a convincing 25-21 first-set win led by five kill from sophomore outside hitter Jada Burse. Texas began the first set on a 3-0 run, but Kansas answered back with a 4-0 run of its own. The Jayhawks pulled away to a 17-11 lead after back-to-back blocks from Rigdon and sophomore middle blocker Zoe Hill, followed by an ace from Nelson which gave KU a 19-14 advantage.
Havili made history in the second set. Kansas was facing a UT set point, 24-23, she gently guided her 4,773rd career assist to Burse who slammed it for a kill to tie the set at 24.
Havili went back to Burse for another kill and swing set point in KU’s favor, 25-24. But UT claimed the last three points of the set for a 27-25 match-equalizing victory.
Kansas took a 2-1 set lead in the match with a 25-18 triumph in the third set. After 13 early ties in the third on the way to a 16-16 score, Kansas gained some breathing room with a 5-0 run. Payne helped Kansas keeps its late lead as she reached out her foot to kick-dig a Texas attack and keep the ball alive for an eventual kill by Rigdon for a 23-17 lead. Kansas held Texas to a .079 third-set hitting percentage.
Texas ran away with a 25-10 fourth-set win and force the third-straight five-set match between the conference rivals.
In a nail-biting 18-16 fifth-set loss, Kansas featured a terminal attacking effort with 15 of its 16 points coming off of kills on a .400 hitting percentage. Rigdon led KU with nine kills in the fifth set alone. The Jayhawks rallied from a 12-10 deficit to gain match point after back-to-back kills by Rigdon, 15-14.
Following a Texas timeout, the Longhorns staved off match point and tie the fifth at 15. On UT’s first match point, Kansas took advantage of a Longhorn service error — KU’s only non-kill point of the fifth set — for a 16-16 tie. Sun registered her 21st kill of the night to give UT its second match point before a 18-16 victory.
Kansas has the weekend off before facing No. 25 Baylor on Wednesday, Oct. 18 (8 p.m., FOX Sports Southwest Plus) in Waco, Texas. It will mark the Jayhawks’ third road contest in the last four matches.
• With the loss, KU’s program-record 19-match Big 12 winning streak comes to an end. The streak included clinching the program’s first Big 12 title in 2016.
• Senior setter Ainise Havili now holds the record for career assists at Kansas. Entering Wednesday needing 22 to set the Kansas career assist record, Havili was able to do so in just the second set, finishing the match with 50 assists and a total of 4,801 career assists
• Meeting for the fifth straight time as top-10 opponents, Kansas and Texas have played five-set matches in five of the last seven meetings, including three-consecutive.
• Kansas had three players with double-digit kills — Madon Rigdon (20), Payne (16) and Burse (13) — and five players with double-digit digs — Nelson (28), Havili (14), Payne (14), Miller (13) and Rigdon (11).
• Havili recorded an assist-dig double-double in 16 of 19 matches this season (50a, 14d tonight)
• Senior right-side hitter Kelsie Payne recorded her third double-double this season (12th career) with 16 kills and 14 digs.
• Senior outside hitter Madison Rigdon recorded her ninth double-double of the season (28th career) with 20 kills and 11 digs. She led Kansas in kills for the eighth time this season.
• Sophomore libero Allie Nelson tied a career-high 28 digs, which was set against Missouri State this season (Aug. 26, 2017).
Senior OH Madison Rigdon
On the match as a whole:
“I thought we played well together, but there were key moments that we could have done better on our side. We let too many runs go. But I think we played really well together and that’s the best team we have faced all year. It really shows that we came back and we can take a lot from it.”
On the feelings of playing Texas:
“It is tough, but I think we will take stuff away and will take it one at a time. But when it’s time to go there we know we are going to bring the fire.”
On what will be done differently when Kansas plays Texas again this season:
“I would say, not to let them go on runs. When they get a kill we just need to come back with energy and the next point is ours. We just need to play better, longer like Allie said.”
Senior RS Kelsie Payne
On the match as a whole:
“We talked about, as long as we can learn from it then it is a valuable experience. We have a lot of season left to play so hopefully we can take this and learn from it.”
On what was learned from the match:
“Start strong, finish strong. We need to play consistently the whole time.”
On Ainise Havili setting the school record for assists:
“She is awesome. She makes our jobs a lot easier and she works so hard. No one deserves it more than her and we are all so happy for her.”
On what makes Texas’ defense so tough:
“They block. I think that is the tallest, biggest team we have played so we had to adjust to that which I think we did pretty well, from the first to the last set. Just moving our arms around and finding the court better.”
Sophomore L Allie Nelson
On the match as a whole:
“It shows that we match up with top teams. We fought so hard for each other and I think that is a huge take-away from it.”
On the impact of losing the second set:
“I think we could have capitalized on that set and it would have changed the dynamic of the game. But I also think that fourth set was a big momentum shift. We could have fought harder there, we just kind of took a break. We need to play better, longer, and we will learn from it.”
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