Kansas outlasts Oklahoma in five sets, 3-2
NORMAN, Okla. — On a record-setting night for freshman middle blocker Rachel Langs, the Kansas volleyball team defeated Oklahoma in five sets on Wednesday in front of a national television audience on ESPNU, 3-2 (22-25, 25-16, 18-25, 25-20, 15-10).
The Jayhawks (9-4, 2-0 Big 12) lost the first set and fell behind two sets to one, only to rally and win the fourth and fifth sets to capture the team’s fourth five-set match victory of the season.
Langs was a force at the net, recording 14 blocks to set an all-time KU record for blocks in a match, transcending both the side-out and rally-scoring eras. The freshman also recorded KU’s first block-kill double-double this season by adding 10 kills to her 14 block-assists.
Kansas recorded a total of 20.0 team blocks to hand the Sooners (9-6, 1-2) their first loss inside McCasland Field House this season. It is just the second time KU has reached 20 team blocks during the rally-scoring era (since 2001), only trailing a 20.5-block output against OU on Nov. 29, 2014.
Senior Gabby Simpson had her hand in every aspect of the match to nearly reach a quadruple-double of 10 assists, 13 digs, nine blocks and eight kills. Freshman Camryn Ennis steadily guided KU’s offense with her team-leading seventh double-double this season of 39 assists and 13 digs.
Junior outside hitter Jada Burse paced KU with 20 kills and junior libero Allie Nelson posted 25 digs, while three Jayhawks recorded double-doubles.
- Rachel Langs set a KU record for blocks in a match with 14 block-assists against the Sooners. Langs passed Tayler Soucie’s record of 13 blocks, which was also recorded against OU on Nov. 29, 2014. Langs recorded 11 of her 14 blocks in the third and fourth sets, posting five in the third set and six in the fourth set. Langs’ rare kill-block double-double is just the 16th in KU history and the first since Caroline Jarmoc recorded 19 kills and 10 blocks against UMKC on Sept. 3, 2013. Langs leads the Big 12 in blocks per set (2.11) during conference play after Wednesday night.
- Jada Burse reached 20 kills for the second-straight match, recording a career-high 23 kills during KU’s Big 12-opener against TCU (Sept. 22) and 20 kills tonight at OU.
- KU has used the same starting lineup for three-straight matches with S/OH Camryn Ennis, RS/S Gabby Simpson, MB Zoe Hill, MB Rachel Langs, OH Jada Burse, DS Lacey Angello, and Allie Nelson as the libero. The Jayhawks have used 10 different starting lineups through 13 matches this season.
- Kansas recorded a total of 20.0 team blocks to reach 20 blocks for just second time during the rally-scoring era (since 2001), only trailing KU’s 20.5 blocks against OU on Nov. 29, 2014. KU’s block output also ties a Big 12 season high with Texas’ 20.0 blocks in five sets against Florida (Aug. 25). Kansas leads the Big 12 in blocks per set (2.95) this season after Wednesday night.
- KU’s current five-match winning streak is the longest of the season.
- The Jayhawks have won the last eight matches in the series with OU. Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996, KU is 31-14 against OU, including a 29-10 mark under head coach Ray Bechard. The Sooners lead the all-time series, 48-40. The series dates back to 1976.
- Kansas improves to 7-16 all-time record in Big 12 road openers, including a 5-2 mark since 2012. Wednesday was the sixth time KU played its first road match of the Big 12 season at Oklahoma. The Jayhawks are 2-4 against OU in Big 12 road openers.
- KU finishes with a 6-3 record during the month of September 2018.
- Since 2015, Kansas is 5-1 when appearing on ESPNU.
Kansas head coach Ray Bechard
Opening statement …
“Defensively we really picked it up after the first set. OU hit .390 in the first set and we kept them below .200 for the remainder of the match. A lot of ebb-and-flow during tonight’s match, but we had the answer in the end. Our Jayhawks have a lot of unique skills individually that make this team very balanced when we come together. This is a good team win. If you’re going to be in the upper-tier of the Big 12, you have to win matches like this on the road. It’s important this time of the year. Hopefully, it will give us a little confidence when we make our next road trip.”
On what a national TV audience saw out of KU tonight …
“I think they saw a team that was sometimes a little inconsistent and sometimes up-and-down, but we will play hard for each other. We were disappointed in how we came out in the third set — slow in the fourth set — but after that, we got our confidence back. Those watching the game tonight saw a group that is going to fight hard for each other. It’s not always going to be the prettiest thing, but we will play hard and fight hard each night.”
On KU’s blocking performance and Rachel Langs …
“That’s our players being organized to our game plan. Physicality is something we can provide. Now that we have blocked in this way consistently, it is exciting that this is part of our team’s identity. We are so happy for Rachel — 14 blocks is not something you see often in this game. For her to rewrite our record books after just a few matches as a freshman says a lot about what she brings to our team.”
On Jada Burse’s performance …
“If you look at Jada’s swings tonight — they blocked her twice in a row at the beginning of the match and that didn’t even affect her mentality. She went on to get 20 kills — most of them big-time kills. Proud of her and the way she is playing lately. Jada was going against a physical block tonight and responded very well.”
After a bye weekend in Big 12 play, the Jayhawks return to Horejsi Family Athletics Center to face West Virginia on Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+. Kansas is in the midst of an 11-match stretch in its schedule that features 10 home contests.
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