No. 4 Kansas notches home-opening win over Chicago State
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Fourth-ranked Kansas volleyball gave their hometown fans a show during a resounding straight-set win over Chicago State to open its home schedule (3-0; 25-12, 25-8, 25-9).
Kansas (4-0) notched its fourth consecutive sweep by holding Chicago State (0-4) to a -.145 hitting percentage and just 11 kills – matching the individual kills output for junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon. The win gives Kansas a 23-1 record in home openers since 1993, including an 18-1 mark under head coach Ray Bechard since 1998.
Rigdon reached her 11 kills on a .526 hitting percentage, while senior libero Cassie Wait led the defense with 14 digs in just two sets.
Junior middle blocker Kayla Cheadle started for the first time this season. The Cougars jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead after a pair Kansas errors, but it was all Jayhawks for the remainder of the afternoon. Kansas went on an 8-0 run, which included three kills from All-American Kelsie Payne, to take complete control of the set before a 25-12 victory.
Junior All-American setter Ainise Havili kept the pressure on at the start of the second set by serving three aces as Kansas took an early 7-0 lead. Rigdon recorded seven kills and added three aces in the second set alone. KU limited Chicago State to eight points leading a Kansas offense that hit .417 during the set.
In the third set, the Jayhawks cleared the bench as junior Tori Miller checked in at libero, senior Maggie Anderson started at setter, redshirt freshman Ashley Smith and freshman Jada Burse took over as outside hitter, and Allie Nelson started as a defensive specialist.
The new lineup committed five early errors, leading to a two-point Kansas advantage, 9-7. But those errors were quickly corrected as the Jayhawks rattled off a 16-2 run to end the set and the match, 25-9. Burse led the offense during the third set with four kills on eight swings. Cheadle registered four blocks to help hold Chicago State to a -.258 hitting percentage in the final set.
Kansas improves its series lead over Chicago State to 3-0. Friday marked the first time the Jayhawks and Cougars met since 1999. All three of KU’s wins against Chicago State have been in three sets.
Kansas returns to the court tonight to face Maryland at 7 p.m. Central. Watch on the Jayhawk Television Network or listen on KUAthletics.com/radio.
Head Coach Ray Bechard
On the mentality entering today’s match:
Well I think we’ve had a good week of practice, and it’s always fun to open up at home and I know they were looking forward to that. Today was more about taking care of our side of the net instead of looking at the scoreboard and seeing what the lead was like because obviously our opponent was a little overmatched. But I thought we had a chance to play almost everyone on the roster and I think that is invaluable when you can get kids playing time that early in the year.
On KU’s service game:
I’m not sure how many service errors we had in the first set – maybe five or six. It’s just that they have to focus and when we put the ball in play that is when we went on those runs. Ainise (Havili) got us on a good run (Madison) Rigdon and Patricia (Montero) so our serve can put pressure on the opponent but it needs to be in play.
On preseason expectations:
We just have to create opportunities for ourselves to get better each and every day. I’m going to tell the team if your opinion of yourself is related to what somebody else thinks of you will fall short. So I’m sure everybody thinks we should win every match but it’s doubtful that will happen – probably won’t happen with anybody in the country. But we are going to play hard every match and try to get better and if we can be the best version of the team we want to be at the end of the year. We will let it take care of itself.
On the home opener:
It was an overmatched opponent, but the kids finally get to play at home and this is a place we train, this is a place we work hard, we sweat and we work hard. It’s good to get in front of some popular surroundings some familiar surroundings we think tonight will probably be a nice crowd, and the band, and a really good opponent, so it’ll be a great opportunity for us.
On Madison Rigdon:
“Eleven kills one error is good. Three aces, dug well – just another consistent effort from her. That is what we are used to from Madison. She maybe doesn’t wow you with her physicality or athleticism but as a volleyball coach you appreciate someone who is so steady with timing day in and day out.
On the value of the match:
The value is Ashley Smith, (Kayla) Cheadle, all the littles that don’t necessarily get to play. Jada Burse needs as many reps as she can get so from that standpoint it was good, now we know we’re going to have to be a lot cleaner tonight but to get real live reps in front of a real live crowd is pretty valuable
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