No. 5 Kansas dominates Lamar for clean sweep of Bulldog Invite
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Kansas claimed its sixth consecutive nonconference tournament title, dating back to 2014, with a straight-set win over Lamar on Saturday evening at Newell-Grissom Building (3-0; 25-17, 25-14, 25-9).
Junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon was named the Bulldog Invitational MVP after opening the event with 14 kills in a straight-set win over host Mississippi State on Friday and finishing the weekend with seven aces, 1.67 digs per set, and 2.78 kills per set on a .333 hitting percentage.
“Madison was just solid – the best server in the event, passed at a high level, took a number of great swings, especially in our opening match,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “She created a lot of opportunities for our team and scored points in many different ways whether attacking, serving, or blocking. Very deserving of MVP honors.”
Senior libero Cassie Wait was named the Bulldog Invitational Outstanding Libero after averaging 4.00 digs per set and providing direction to a Kansas defense that held opponents to a .014 hitting percentage this weekend.
“There were just a lot of plays that you don’t see other people make, but Cassie makes it look routine,” Bechard added.
All-Tournament honorees included junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne, junior All-American setter Ainise Havili, and senior middle blocker Tayler Souice.
Kansas won its 18th-straight regular season nonconference match over Lamar behind one the most efficient offensive performances of the young season with a .356 hitting percentage, led by Payne’s 10 kills on a .400 clip.
The Jayhawks took an early 5-2 lead in the first set behind aces from Havili and Rigdon. Kansas didn’t look back for the remainder of the match as Payne poured in seven first-set kills on the way to a 25-17 first-set win. KU featured an 88 percent sideout rate to open the match.
Coach Bechard used a different lineup to start the second set with junior middle blocker Kayla Cheadle in the front row and freshman defensive specialist Allie Nelson in the back row. Freshman outside hitter Jada Burse rotated in for Nelson and proceeded to record a kill and a block to help Kansas recover from an early 2-0 deficit. Kansas went on a 6-1 run to take a 13-7 lead and grasp the reins for a 25-14 second-set victory.
Kansas started the third set on an 8-0 run that included an ace from Havili and back-to-back blocks from Payne and freshman middle blocker Zoe Hill. The Jayhawks held the Cardinals to just two kills and nine points in the final set to clinch KU’s third sweep in as many matches this season.
Next week, Kansas returns to Lawrence to open the regular season home schedule with the Kansas Invitational. Action from Horejsi Family Athletics Center begins with Chicago State on Friday at noon, followed by a night cap against Maryland at 7 p.m.
Bulldog Invitational Awards
MVP: Madison Rigdon, OH
Outstanding Libero: Cassie Wait, L
Bulldog Invitational All-Tournament Team
Kelsie Payne, RS
Ainise Havili, S
Tayler Soucie, MB
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