No. 8 Kansas edged in four sets at No. 5 Texas

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AUSTIN, Texas – In a Big 12 battle of top-10 foes, fifth-ranked Texas edged eighth-ranked Kansas in four sets on Saturday night at Gregory Gymnasium, 3-1 (27-25, 25-16, 18-25, 25-19).

The Jayhawks (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) and Longhorns (10-2, 2-0) were even in most statistical categories, including kills (61 to 60), blocks (nine to eight), digs (57 to 56) and aces (three to two), but KU surrendered 10 points on service errors and allowed a season-high .351 hitting percentage by Texas.  

Austin-area natives junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne and junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon combined for 38 of KU’s 60 kills on the night to lead the Jayhawks. Rigdon registered 20 kills with 13 digs for her fifth double-double of the season, while Payne produced 18 kills on .444 hitting percentage.

Texas (10-2, 2-0) was led by a pair of 20-kill performances – 22 from Micaya White and 20 from Ebony Nwanebu – to earn their first win over a top-10 opponent in three tries this season.

Kansas jumped out to a 20-15 lead over the Longhorns in the first set, but were unable to shut the door as UT rallied to win the opening set in extra points, 27-25. Texas rode its wave of momentum towards a 10-2 lead in the second set before taking a two-set lead in the match, 25-16.  

“We missed out on an opportunity tonight,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “We played well enough at times, but the first-set loss really stings. Not only did we not finished that set, there was carry-over into the second set. The response in the third set was pretty good but when you are playing a high-level team on their floor and you get an opportunity to jump out to a one-set lead, you have to take advantage of that.”

Kansas quieted the crowd of 4,000 Texas fans with a 25-18 third-set victory. Freshman middle blocker Zoe Hill was a wall at the net all night – finishing with a team-high five blocks, including two in the third set. Junior All-American setter Ainise Havili set to Payne for four kills during a 5-2 KU run to clinch the third set.

Texas took a 12-6 advantage in the fourth set. The Jayhawks were able to keep pace, but not chip into to its six-point deficit on the way to a 25-19 match-clinch decision for the Longhorns.

Kansas returns to action next Saturday, Oct. 1 against Baylor (1 p.m., JTV/ESPN3) inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

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