Rigdon’s six aces lead No. 6 Kansas past Texas Tech, 3-0

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Gina Dodd, currently battling breast cancer, served an ace for the honorary first serve during the Jayhawks for a Cure match, commencing sixth-ranked Kansas volleyball’s contest against Texas Tech on Saturday evening inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

Little did Dodd know, she was setting the tone for the rest of the evening for Kansas.

The Jayhawks whipped-up a total of 10 aces against the Red Raiders on the way to a three-set victory (25-8, 25-18, 25-8). KU improves to 7-0 at home this season after winning its 12th-straight match in the Texas Tech series. Junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon totaled a career-high six aces with nine kills, while junior All-American right-side hitter Kelsie Payne registered 12 kills on a .526 hitting percentage.  

Kansas (15-2, 4-1 Big 12) made quick work of Texas Tech (10-10, 0-5) in a match that lasted an hour and 11 minutes. The Jayhawks’ defense held Texas Tech to a .120 hitting percentage, paired with KU’s second-highest hitting percentage of the season with a .341 attacking clip.

The first set showed the potential of a Kansas squad firing on all cylinders. KU started with a quick 3-0 lead, which Texas Tech countered with a 3-0 run of their own after a video review gave the Red Raiders their first point of the match. Kansas slowly rebuilt a small lead until the scoreboard read 12-8, when it stormed to a 13-0 run to quickly finish off the first set, 25-8. Junior middle blocker Kayla Cheadle registered four of her career-best eight kills in the first set, but it was Rigdon who stole the first-set show.

Rigdon was at the service line during KU’s 13-0 run to end the first set. Six of her 12 serves during the run were aces. Meaning that in just one rotation the Pflugerville, Texas native set a Kansas record for aces in a three-set match during the rally scoring era (since 2001).

Texas Tech’s eight points in the first set marked the fourth time this season Kansas has held an opponent to single-digits in a set.

Texas Tech was able to briefly slow Kansas’ momentum in the opening stages of the second set, keeping pace with the Jayhawks to a 14-13 score. KU then went on a 5-1 run to establish a 19-14 advantage. The teams traded points until a ball handling error by Texas Tech setter Kyndal Cowan sealed the set for KU, 25-18.

Kansas maintained at least a four-point lead through the majority of the third set on the way to a 25-18 match-clinching decision. Payne led KU to the finish line with four kills in all three sets, including four kills on seven errorless swings in the third set.

Junior middle blocker Kayla Cheadle started for the first time since Big 12 play begin and finished with eight kills on 10 swings for a .800 hitting percentage.

Kansas plays host to Kansas State during the Dillons Sunflower Showdown on Wednesday night (6 p.m., ESPNU).

Junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon’s six aces on Saturday increased her Big 12-leading season total to 37 (0.61 aces per set) – already passing her total of 29 aces from last season. It sets a KU record for aces in a three-set match during the rally scoring era (since 2001), and ties a Big 12 season-high. Entering Saturday, Rigdon had recorded five-straight kill/dig double-doubles.

Kansas has won 12-straight in the series against Texas Tech. Kansas leads, 26-16, including a 16-3 mark inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

Just over a year ago on Sept. 4, 2015, Kansas head coach Ray Bechard reached his 300th victory at Kansas. Exactly 400 days and 40 wins later, Bechard now has a 340-231 (.595) record as the Jayhawks’ head coach. In his 19th season, he is the all-time winningest coach at Kansas. Since 2012, Kansas is 118-29 (.803) under Bechard.

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