No. 7 Jayhawks top No. 17 Boilermakers, 3-1
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Seventh-ranked Kansas volleyball won its second top-20 matchup of the week with a 3-1 victory over No. 17 Purdue on Friday night at Horejsi Family Athletics Center (25-18, 25-17, 18-25, 25-19). The Jayhawks improve to 9-0 and await No. 9 Creighton in the Kansas Invitational finale on Saturday night.
Senior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne led the Jayhawks with 19 kills on a .366 hitting percentage, while senior All-American outside hitter Madison Rigdon contributed a double-double of 15 kills and 10 digs. Rigdon joined Payne in the Kansas record books, becoming the 16th Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career kills.
“Madison is going to go down as one of the all-time greats here as far as what she does with her serve and her attack,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said after the match. “She’s been a great player for us and I know she’s got a few more kills left in that arm.”
Rigdon reached the century mark in career kills with a set-high six in the first set. She finished the night with 1,012 career kills, good for 16th-place on KU’s all-time list.
The Jayhawks made their way to their third-straight 9-0 start behind an efficient offensive attack that hit for a .271 clip for the match and a defense that passed in system well enough to allow a side-out rate of 70 percent.
“There are times tonight where we just fought harder and won our share of the in-between rallies,” Bechard said. “We got the building excited because we were playing hard and I think our fans sense that and our players sense that. When we get that going and make some good volleyball plays otherwise, it creates a little momentum and we rode that momentum tonight.”
The first set looked as if it would be a close battle in the opening minute, but the Jayhawks followed with a 5-0 run to take an early 6-1 lead and force a Purdue timeout. Senior middle blocker Taylor Alexander joined Rigdon to led KU to a convincing 25-18 first-set win. Alexander and Rigdon combined for 10 of KU’s 16 kills on a .500 hitting percentage in the opening set.
Kansas began the second set in a similar fashion – with a 6-1 run to take an early 8-2 lead. On the way to her eighth double-double of the season, senior All-American setter Ainise Havili stole the show in set number two, notching 14 assists and two aces for the Jayhawks. The Boilermakers attempted to chip away KU’s lead late in the set with a 3-0 run to narrow the deficit to seven, but couldn’t match Kansas’ offense as the Jayhawks went on to win 25-17.
Purdue came out hot in set number three going on two separate 3-0 runs to take an 8-3 early lead. The Boilermakers lead didn’t waiver, taking control of the set with a 14-8 lead. KU cut the lead to three with a 3-0 run of their own, but Purdue maintained their overall momentum to a 25-18 score and force a fourth set.
The Jayhawks began the fourth and final set on a 6-2 run, but the Boilermakers kept the set closely contested as KU tried to pull away early on. A second run by the Jayhawks added a cushion to their lead, but Purdue answered with a 3-0 run keeping the set within three. From that point on the Jayhawks maintained a five or more-point lead to secure the four-set victory.
The Jayhawks hand Purdue (7-1) its first loss of the season a year after Purdue handed KU its first loss of the 2016 season in West Lafayette, Indiana. The all-time series is now even between the schools at 3-3.
The Boilermakers were led on Friday night by 11 kills from outside hitter Danielle Cuttino and 10 kills off the bench from outside hitter Sherridan Atkinson.
“We managed Cuttino pretty well tonight,” Bechard said. “Eleven kills and six errors – we’ll take that because she is a sure-fire All-American this year.”
KU concludes the Kansas Invitational tomorrow with a 7:30 p.m. first serve No. 9 Creighton. The match will be televised by Jayhawk TV Network, powered by Spectrum Sports, and on ESPN3 outside the viewing area. Audio of the match can be heard live on KUAthletics.com/radio.
The first match of Kansas Invitational action on Saturday begins at 12 p.m., as Purdue takes on Belmont at Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
After day one of the Kansas Invitational, the Jayhawks lead with a 2-0 record followed by Purdue and Creighton at 1-1, and Belmont at 0-2.
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