No. 9 Kansas defeats San Jose State, 3-1
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Ninth-ranked Kansas volleyball defeated San Jose State in four sets (25-10, 25-20, 18-25, 25-17) on Friday afternoon at Leavey Center on the first day of the Santa Clara / San Jose State Tournament. The Jayhawks face Sanata Clara later tonight at 9 p.m. Central time.
Senior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne led the Jayhawks with 17 kills, adding four blocks to become the 14th Jayhawk to reach 300 career blocks. Payne also becomes one of four all-time Jayhawks with 300 or more career blocks and 1,200 or more career kills.
Kansas (10-1) snaps a five-match San Jose State winning streak by holding the Spartans, who entered the match 24th in the nation in kills per set (14.3), to just 43 kills on a .092 hitting percentage. During KU’s victories in the first, second and fourth sets, San Jose State was held to under 10 kills per set and a combined -.027 hitting percentage.
Sophomore middle blocker Zoe Hill led KU’s defensive front-line charge with five blocks, while senior All-American setter Ainise Havili contributed a team-high 19 digs along with 36 assists for her ninth double-double of the season.
Kansas started with a defensive rotation as senior defensive specialist Tori Miller made her third start of the season in place of outside hitter Jada Burse. Miller made the first serve of the match and her long-distance float serve — from nearly 10 feet behind the service line — assisted the Jayhawks well during an 8-0 opening run. Kansas continued to put the pressure on throughout the opening set as a well-place tip attack from Burse landed on SJSU’s side of the court for KU’s 20th point of the set, 20-5. Kansas closed out the first set with the second-highest set scoring margin of the season, 25-10.
Payne had five of KU’s 11 kills in the first set, while the Jayhawks were the beneficiaries of 12 San Jose State attacking errors and a -.123 attacking clip.
The Jayhawks recorded three aces in the second set to push past the Spartans, 25-20. KU led, 23-13, but San Jose State went on a late 7-0 run to close the gap. Coming out of a KU timeout with the score at 23-20, the Jayhawks registered a first-ball kill off a slide attack from senior Kayla Cheadle, followed by a set-point ace from Addie Barry to clinch the 25-20 victory.
Payne added five more kills to reach double-figure points by intermission.
The third set was the outlier for the day as San Jose State rose their team hitting percentage to a .405 clip with 19 kills on the way to a 25-18 decision. The Spartans’ 19 kills were more than their 16 kills in the first and second set combined.
“I thought we started well, but got complacent and let them back into the second set late — that carried over into the third set,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “We ramped-up our defense in the fourth set, but when you have doubleheader matches like today, you have to be sharp and try to get in-and-out as quick as you can.”
Payne reached her 300th career block with two early blocks in the fourth set as Kansas jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Moments later, with KU leading 16-10, Payne exited the match with an apparent ankle injury. Ashley Smith subbed in to finish the match in the right-side hitter position.
Sophomore libero Allie Nelson recorded KU’s sixth ace of the day to cap a 5-0 run as Kansas rolled to a 19-10 lead. The match came to a creeping finish as the last seven points combined from both teams were errors, including an attacking error on match point by San Jose State.
Kansas evens the all-time series with San Jose State, 1-1. Friday marked first meeting in the series in 35 years. The Jayhawks and Spartans first met on Oct. 8, 1982 in Norman, Oklahoma – then-No. 20 SJSU won in straight sets, 3-0. Kansas has won the last six matches against current Mountain West Conference teams.
Kansas takes the court at Leavey Center later tonight against Santa Clara for a 9 p.m. Central time first serve.
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