No. 6 Kansas sweeps Texas Tech, extends winning streak to seven

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LUBBOCK, Texas – Kansas volleyball extended its winning streak to seven matches with a straight-set victory over Texas Tech on Wednesday night at United Supermarkets Arena, 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-20).

Junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon led the sixth-ranked Jayhawks with 17 kills and three aces, while junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne notched her sixth double-double of the season with 16 kills and 10 digs.

The Jayhawks continued to roll-out the most stout defense in the Big 12, holding Texas Tech to a .064 hitting percentage. KU now has a league-best .134 opponent hitting percentage on the season.

“We played very well defensively and that set the tone for the match,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “We took some of (Texas Tech’s) energy just by how hard we were playing defensively – we wouldn’t let them get a ball on the floor. That can get frustrating for an opponent.”  

Senior libero Cassie Wait was the ring leader for KU’s defense with a match-high 23 digs. It is the third time during Big 12 play that the Senior CLASS Award candidate has reached 20 digs in a three-set match. Middle blockers Kayla Cheadle and Tayler Soucie recorded eight blocks each, contributing to KU’s nine team blocks.

Junior All-American setter Ainise Havili helped guide KU’s offense to a .343 hitting percentage – the highest during Big 12 play and second-highest overall for KU this season.

Texas Tech (10-14, 0-9) remains winless in Big 12 play after starting the regular-season with a 10-2 record. Lauren Douglass paced the Red Raiders with 10 kills on the night. 

Both teams brought solid back-court defense early in the first set to a 6-6 tie. A block involving Rigdon and Cheadle, followed by back-to-back kills by Payne gave Kansas a three-point separation, 9-6. Despite four service error hiccups by the Jayhawks, Kansas allowed just one Red Raider kill during a 14-5 run which brought KU’s lead to 20-11.

The last time Kansas faced Texas Tech, Rigdon registered six aces in the first set. She channeled some of that energy with a first-set ace on Wednesday night to give Kansas a 23-14 lead. Payne clinched the 25-15 first-set win with a kill. The Jayhawks registered 18 kills on a .415 hitting percentage in the first set, while holding Tech to a .057 clip.

Kansas denied Texas Tech of any sustained momentum in the second set with a 16-for-17 side-out rate (94 percent), which began as Payne terminated a Texas Tech overpass for a kill on the first point of the set. The Jayhawks went on to win the second set, 25-16.  

Texas Tech started the third set with a 4-1 lead and maintained its lead until Kansas took control with a 5-0 run, which included three-straight Red Raider attacking errors and a solo block by Soucie. Rigdon scored her third ace of the match to give Kansas a 22-15 advantage in the tail end of the set. Redshirt freshman Ashley Smith subbed in during the waning moments of the set and recorded her lone kill of the night on match point to clinch the victory for the Jayhawks.

Wait finished her stellar defensive night with 10 of her 23 digs in the third set alone.

Kansas extends its overall winning streak to seven matches, which also includes five-straight sweeps.

Kansas leads the all-time series against Texas Tech, 27-16. The Jayhawks have won the last 13 meetings against the Red Raiders, including six-straight in Lubbock. This marks the sixth-straight season Kansas has swept the regular-season series over Texas Tech; KU has swept nine of the last 10 regular-season series with Tech.

7-0 during the month of October … 17-0 when winning the first set … One win away from its 20th victory of the season; it would be KU’s fifth-straight 20-win season … 122-29 since the 2012 season … 49-5 since the 2015 season … 10-2 in Big 12 road matches since 2015.

The fourth-straight top-10 matchup between Big 12 leaders Kansas and Texas will take place in front of a sold-out Horejsi Family Athletics Center crowd on Saturday night in Lawrence. The second-ranked Longhorns and sixth-ranked Jayhawks will play for the upper hand in the Big 12 title race, as KU enters the weekend with an 8-1 league record and Texas with a 9-0 record atop the Big 12 standings. 

“We are trying to go 2-0 this week,” Bechard said. “Saturday is a big match because it’s a team that in front of us in the Big 12 standings, but we will approach it the same way we have approached each match this season.”

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