No. 4 Kansas sweeps Southeastern Louisiana, concludes nonconference play

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Fourth-ranked Kansas swept Southeastern Louisiana in straight sets, 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-12), in the final nonconference match of the regular season on Saturday afternoon at Holloway Gymnasium. It also marked KU’s final match in the Stacey Clark Classic, hosted by Purdue.

Kansas (11-1) was led by a balanced offensive attack of nine kills from freshman Jada Burse and junior Madison Rigdon, while senior Tayler Soucie and junior All-American Kelsie Payne contributed eight kills each. KU’s eight team blocks and a match-high 17 digs from senior libero Cassie Wait helped hold Southeastern Louisiana (1-11) to a hitting percentage of -.011.

“I thought we performed pretty well today,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “The hitting efficiency left something to be desired and certainly that is something we are going to have to clean up prior to Wednesday. But we served well and was pretty physical at the net at times and I really like us when we went on some long runs. That was good to see.”

KU’s longest run of the day was in the third set with freshman Allie Nelson at the service line. Nelson, playing in front of a large group of family from nearby Chicago, whipped two aces during a 9-0 Jayhawk run for a 10-2 lead – all but putting the match on ice for KU. Nelson totaled three aces in the third set before Kansas clinched the victory with a 25-12 third-set score.

“Our littles (defensive specialists) make it work in practice,” Bechard continued. “They are extremely diligent about what they do. Allie could potentially be our libero during her career at Kansas – that’s how good we feel about her. I was happy that Allie could get in there and get the opportunity to shine.” 

Kansas limited Southeastern Louisiana to just six kills in all three sets, respectively, while jumping out to leads of 5-1 in the first set, 6-1 in the second set, and 10-2 in the third set. It was KU’s seventh three-set sweep in 12 matches this season.

Burse, KU’s kills leader alongside Rigdon, show great potential in her first career start.

“There are some things that Jada (Burse) is not quite ready with but I think she gives us the best chance moving forward from a physicality standpoint – she might be our highest-level blocker. When she attacks at a high level, she can be terminal. I thought there were some good moments from her today.” 

Junior All-American setter Ainise Havili and junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon represent Kansas on the inaugural Stacey Clark Classic All-Tournament Team. Havili averaged 9.4 assists per set while occasionally attacking for 10 kills on a .473 hitting percentage in three matches. With 45 assists and 10 digs against Xavier on Friday, Havili notched her third double-double of the season. Rigdon averaged 2.9 kills per set while continuing to pace the Big 12 in aces with nine aces in three matches over the weekend.

Kansas opens Big 12 Conference play on Wednesday night in Lawrence against Oklahoma (6 p.m. Central, ESPNU).

Kansas concluded its nonconference portion of the regular season on Saturday with an 11-1 record. In the last two seasons, the Jayhawks are 23-1 during regular-season nonconference play. Under head coach Ray Bechard, KU is 180-30 (.857) during regular-season nonconference play.

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