No. 5 Kansas sweeps Eastern Washington, 3-0
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Fifth-ranked Kansas Volleyball won the first match of Saturday’s Bulldog Invitational doubleheader with a straight-set victory over Eastern Washington at Newell-Grissom Building (3-0; 25-13, 25-15, 25-21). The Jayhawks return to the floor tonight at 5 p.m. Central against Lamar.
In the first-ever meeting against Eastern Washington, Kansas (2-0) registered a .301 hitting percentage – recording just four attacking errors – while holding the Eagles (1-1) to a .010 clip.
Junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon set the pace for Kansas early with three aces in the first set, including two quick aces to allow Kansas to breakout to a 6-1 lead. Rigdon finished with six kills on 19 errorless swings, five aces, and five digs.
“Our serving was better today – Madison really got us rolling with five aces,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “We hit over .300 and we were low-error but we were out-dug. So that says we just have to be more terminal with our swings. When we take swings we need to end the rally. For the most part it was a good effort this morning.”
Junior All-American setter Ainise Havili recorded 25 assists with seven digs while occasionally spotting holes in the Eagles’ defense to sneak in four kills on the day.
Redshirt freshman outside hitter Ashely Smith saw her first collegiate action in the second set and didn’t waste any time in getting on the scorecard as she combined with Tayler Soucie for a block to put Kansas up 18-12. Smith later added her first career kill to put Kansas up, 20-14, on the way to a 25-15 victory.
After comfortable first- and second-set victories, Kansas was holding Eastern Washington to a -.095 hitting percentage behind five blocks and 28 digs.
In the third set, Eastern Washington started out with a 3-0 lead and kept pace with Kansas offensively, totaling 16 kills – four more than their kills total in the first and second sets combined. But led by their All-American setter, the Jayhawks didn’t record an attacking error in the final set for a .387 hitting percentage to clinch the match with a 25-21 victory.
“We are trying to play to a standard – to compete with the best teams in the country,” Bechard concluded. “We have to bring it every match regardless of who is on the other side of the net. Eastern Washington played a clean match yesterday and they will win their share of matches this season. For us it is more about taking care of our side of the net. We need to not only win matches, but also get better every time we play.”
Kansas looks to capture the Bulldog Invitational title this evening when they face Lamar at 5 p.m. Central. Listen to the action live on KUAthletics.com/radio.
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