Kansas rallies back to stun West Virginia in five sets
LAWRENCE, Kan.- The Kansas volleyball team extended their winning streak to six matches Wednesday night in a five-set thriller against West Virginia inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center (22-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-9, 15-7).
Down 2-0 in sets and 23-22 on the scoreboard in the third, Kansas (10-4, 3-0 Big 12) used a 43-16 run to mount its comeback and avoid the sweep to the Mountaineers (8-9, 1-4 Big 12).
The Jayhawks rallied behind a 25-9 fourth-set effort – their largest margin of victory in a set this season – to stun West Virginia in the fifth using its defensive front.
Junior middle blocker Zoe Hill aided that defensive front totaling 11 blocks, including four alone in the fifth set. Junior outside hitter Jada Burse led the team in points (19) and kills (17), while freshman outside hitter Camryn Ennis led in assists with 27.
Burse recorded her 17th kill of the game at match point to seal the victory and ignite the crowd in a roar.
Junior outside hitter Ashley Smith helped form a dynamic duo with Burse, contributing her own 17.5 points and 16 kills. Senior right-side hitter Gabby Simpson contributed with five blocks of her own while connecting for six kills and dishing out 23 assists.
- KU’s win streak of six is the longest on the season.
- Kansas now holds a 14-1 record all-time against West Virginia.
- KU has used the same starting lineup of S/OH Camryn Ennis, RS/S Gabby Simpson, MB Zoe Hill, MB Rachel Langs, OH Jada Burse, DS Lacey Angello, and libero Allie Nelson in four straight games.
- This is the fourth time this season that the Jayhawks have avoided getting swept in three games.
- Freshman L/DS Audri Suter put some distance between KU and WVU taking charge with a 6-0 serving run in the fourth set – her third such this season.
- The Jayhawks have survived to play a fifth set now seven different times in 2018 where they are 5-2 in those matches played.
- KU’s 25-9 fourth set victory is the largest set victory this season.
Kansas coach Ray Bechard
“We were lucky to get it to the fourth set. I’ve never seen a more diverse stat sheet. I think everything settled down Camryn (Ennis) struggled a little bit tonight, so Gabby (Simpson) did more setting and that settled us down. We started doing what we do, blocking balls. Anytime you can out dig and out block, you have a chance.”
On Kansas’ 43-16 run to close out the match
“A 43-16 run, for volleyball that’s significant. I just felt the team took a big exhale once they got to that fourth set. They thought ‘okay we’re good’, they might have been fighting themselves saying we can’t get swept at home by West Virginia or anybody else. Things got well in a hurry during the fourth set.”
Junior libero Allie Nelson
On the blocking effort in the fourth and fifth sets
“When our blocking defense is organized, that is when I feel we play at our best. I’m emotionally exhausted right now. It was a do or die situation, we were really locked in during the huddle and we knew we had to go right then.”
Middle blocker Zoe Hill
What changed after the third set?
“I think just being really locked in on our defense, it is the strongest part of our game. When we see Allie (Nelson) hustling after everything, that gives us extra motivation to start doing the same.”
Kansas will play host to Baylor Saturday, Oct. 6th at 1 p.m., inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center. Fans can watch the game live on ESPN+ or tune into an audio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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