No. 11 Kansas volleyball outlasts Oklahoma, 3-2

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas volleyball outlasted Oklahoma on Wednesday night inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center, 3-2 (22-25, 25-20, 25-17, 22-25, 15-13). The 11th-ranked Jayhawks used momentum from a 9-0 run at the end of the fourth set to edge the Sooners in the fifth, 15-13. The late fourth-set run included 10 OU set points while senior defensive specialist Tori Miller was serving.

“We were fortunate to win this match. We had moments where we were a cohesive competitive unit but not very many,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “Oklahoma played with a lot of pride and a tremendous amount of character. The Jayhawks made enough plays at the end to make that happen. We are very, very fortunate to get out of here with a win.”

The Jayhawks improve to 19-3 and 8-1 in Big 12 play this season, while Oklahoma falls to 5-17 and 2-7 in league action.

Kansas was led by a trio of Jayhawks with double-figure kills — senior right-side hitter Kelsie Payne (14), senior outside hitter Madison Rigdon (14) and sophomore outside hitter Jada Burse (13). Sophomore middle blocker Zoe Hill notched a career-high 10 blocks with eight kills as Kansas out-blocked OU 13.0 to 5.0 on the night. Rigdon added 13 digs for her 10th double-double of the season.

Oklahoma’s Alyssa Enneking, who ranks second in the Big 12 in kills per set, registered 22 kills and 16 digs in the losing effort.

“They were moving her around a little bit to create some different angles that we haven’t see on tape,” Bechard said. “But like I told our team, during the second round of Big 12 play teams will put new wrinkles in their techniques. She had a live arm and a great serve that challenged us tonight.”

Since the preseason Bechard has praised the Big 12 as the best it has ever been from top to bottom this year. Set one between the Sooners and Jayhawks proved as a case study for that claim as the Sooners won the first set, 25-22. The Sooners opened the match by holding KU to a .108 hitting percentage while registering 18 kills on the offensive end.

Early in the second set, nothing seemed to be going KU’s way as an OU serve by Morgan Miller careened over the net for an ace to give the Sooners a 9-2 lead. But Kansas would respond with a 7-1 run to close the gap to a one-point deficit. After the Jayhawks and Sooners battled midway through the set, Kansas ended the second on a 6-1 run, including with two kills from Burse, to take the second-set victory, 25-20.

In the third set, Kansas broke an 11-all tie with a 5-0 run that included back-to-back OU attacking errors and a service ace by sophomore libero Allie Nelson, who finished with 18 digs. Kansas went on to record a .375 third-set hitting percentage while holding the Sooners to a .059 hitting clip on the way to a 25-17 win.

The Sooners controlled the majority of a sluggish fourth set, breaking out to a 10-5 lead and reaching set point leading by 11 points, 24-13. KU’s grit and toughness however halted the Sooners at set point 10 times as KU went on a 9-0 run to come back within two. OU finally took a 25-22 decision with a kill from Enneking.

The Jayhawks carried over their energy from set four into the fifth, opening up the final set with three straight kills. But later the Sooners had the upper hand after taking a 10-8 lead following a KU service error. The Jayhawks responded with a 5-1 run that included four OU attacking errors for a 13-11 lead. After OU came back to knot the final set at 13, Kansas went to Payne and Rigdon for back-to-back kills to clinch the 15-13 fifth-set win for the Jayhawks.

The eleventh-ranked Jayhawks travel to Ames, Iowa, to take on 22nd-ranked Iowa State on Saturday, October 28 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday’s match marks the seventh time this season that the Jayhawks will face a ranked opponent.




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