No. 6 Kansas sweeps West Virginia, 3-0

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Sixth-ranked Kansas volleyball has reached the halfway mark of Big 12 play with a 7-1 record after sweeping West Virginia, 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-22), on Thursday night inside a sold-out Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

Kansas (18-2, 7-1 Big 12) has now won six-straight matches, including four-straight sweeps, and 13-straight matches at home dating back to last season. On Thursday night, the Jayhawks held West Virginia to a .175 hitting percentage while scoring seven aces and seven blocks.  

Junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon once again held court at the service line with power and finesse, leading Kansas with five aces on the night – just one shy of the six she recorded against Kansas State last Wednesday, Oct. 15. Junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne recorded five of her 10 kills in the third set as Kansas clinched the victory with a 25-22 triumph in the final set.

Much like her six aces in the first set last week, Rigdon set the tone for aggressive serving early with an ace on her second serve against the Mountaineers. Rigdon came back to the service line for back-to-back aces which gave the Jayhawks a 16-8 lead in the first. WVU surged towards the tail end of the first set, cutting KU’s lead to four at 22-18, but their momentum was halted by back-to-back block-assists from Payne and junior middle blocker Kayla Cheadle to give KU set point.

On set point in the first set, Rigdon served up her fourth ace of the night to give Kansas a 25-18 opening-set win.

Kansas didn’t waste any time in rushing out to a 4-0 advantage in the second set as Rigdon whipped her fifth ace and final ace past the Mountaineer defense. West Virginia rallied to tie the set five times. But after a 12-12 score, Kansas pulled away with a 7-1 run, 19-13, before winning the set, 25-20. KU notched a terminal 17 kills in the second set.

Kansas closed out the match without their All-American setter, Ainise Havili, whose night ended with 30 assists and seven digs after a minor mouth injury. Kansas was leading 22-16 at the time. Senior Maggie Anderson relieved Havili and guided the Jayhawks to a match-clinching 25-22 third-set win.

Kansas record 33 of its 40 total kills in the second and third sets, ending with 16 kills on a .324 hitting percentage in the third set.

“We were over-excited about being able to play at home and being able to be in the gym after being off for so long,” Payne said of KU’s offensive progression on Thursday. “Once we settled in to our game it helped a lot.”

WVU standout freshman Payton Caffrey led the Mountaineer charge with a match-high 16 kills. The Mountaineers fall to 11-11 and 2-6 in Big 12 play in an improved campaign under second-year head coach Reed Sunahara.

“The way West Virginia plays – they play so hard,” Bechard explained. “They extend rallies and do a good job of making you work.”

Kansas improves to 11-0 all-time against West Virginia.

Kansas has the weekend off before traveling to face Texas Tech in Lubbock on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Next Saturday, Oct. 29, the Jayhawks will host a top-10 rematch with No. 2 Texas inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

“We have built some good momentum in October and were excited about getting ready to for next week,” Bechard said. “I’m happy that they get a weekend to enjoy themselves and support other teams on campus and be a student for a while. We’ll get back after it tomorrow and be ready to go by Monday.”

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