Jayhawks Unofficially Open Season with Crimson and Blue Alumni Match

Tayler Soucie Box Score

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Prior to Kansas volleyball’s Crimson and Blue Alumni Match, the Jayhawks ran over to the west wall of the Horejsi Family Athletics Center to celebrate the past and show their expectations for the future. Comprised of half returners and half newcomers, together they unveiled the 2013 NCAA Sweet 16 banner Saturday afternoon.
From a recruiting class ranked No. 15 in the country, each of the seven freshmen have had their own hype entering the season. However, Saturday’s star came out of the outside hitter crew – the only position with all three upperclassmen. Freshman Madison Rigdon led the offense with a double-double, including a team-high 18 kills, to match her 11 digs. She kicked off an 8-0 scoring rally for the Crimson squad from the serving line in the third set to ultimately help Crimson claim the win, 3-1.
“Madison was great for us today, but I thought a lot of them played pretty well,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “We saw some things we liked and some things we know we need work on – but that’s what this day is for. With this many young players, it’s important that they get out here in front of fans and be in live-game situations. Overall, we’re excited to be back out here and thank you to the fans that came out. We will get to work getting ready for the real home opener next weekend.”
Rigdon wasn’t alone on the outside as all four pin players registered double-digit kills. Senior Chelsea Albers churned out 14 kills, while senior Sara McClinton tallied 10. Fellow outside, junior Tiana Dockery, came up with another of the several double-doubles on the afternoon with her 10 kills and 14 digs.
From the middle, freshman Kayla Cheadle led the defense with seven blocks, while sophomores Tayler Soucie and Janae Hall collected three blocks apiece. Freshman setter Ainise Havili also racked up an unofficial double-double with 43 assists and 14 digs in her first outing. Opposite her, sophomore Maggie Anderson recorded 30 assists and 11 digs. In the back row, all four defensive specialists spent time in the libero jersey. Sophomore Cassie Wait and freshman Claire Carpenter tied for the team lead with 18 digs. Freshmen Addison Barry and Tori Miller dug 16 and 14 balls, respectively.
In need of a little extra help on to fill two complete teams, volleyball alumni Catherine Carmichael, Tayler Tolefree and Jenna Kaiser suited up for the Blue team.
The Crimson Jayhawks closed out the first set strong, claiming the lead with a 25-20 win. McClinton and Dockery led the offense with five kills apiece. Cheadle started the scoring with a block at the front of the net. The scoring went back and forth through the first part of the set until Crimson went on a 3-0 run to break open a 9-6 lead. But a series of errors by the Crimson team allowed Blue to get right back into the set. A kill by Rigdon tied the game up at 18, but the Crimson Jayhawks responded with a 5-0 run to take a sizable lead, 23-18, after a Dockery Kill. After a Blue team timeout, Crimson closed out the first set with a 25-20 edge.
Rigdon, the 6-0 freshman from Pflugerville, Texas, blasted eight kills to give the Blue a 30-28, a set which featured 13 ties. The Crimson Jayhawks started the second set right where they left off by jumping out in to an early 5-3 lead after a kill by Cheadle. The Blue Jayhawks fought tough and were able to battle their way back. After a block by 2013 graduate, Carmichael, and Hall the Jayhawks in Blue tied the set at 13. Several more ties kept the set close at 14-14,15-15 and 16-16, and 18-all. The Crimson Jayhawks appeared ready to put the set away after a Dockery kill completed a 4-0 run and made score 23-19, but the Blue squad responded with a 5-0 run of its own to take a 25-24 lead. After a pair of blocks by Cheadle tied the game up at 28-28, a Crimson error gave the Blue team the second set.
Sparked by two big runs late in the set, Crimson took set three, 25-18. After a couple of aces by Rigdon, the Crimson Jayhawks capped off an 8-0 run to take a 19-14 lead. Moments later, Soucie and McClinton picked up a pair of kills and Dockery aced a serve to close out the set on a 5-0 run. Havili helped her side with nine assists and a couple of athletic digs to give the Crimson Jayhawks the set.
Rigdon had a strong forth set, propelling the Crimson Jayhawks to an 18-16 victory. Rigdon blasted six kills throughout the set, her last kill sparking a 3-0 run to close out the match. For the Blue Jayhawks, Albers started off the fourth with three quick kills, powering them to an early 6-3 lead. Moments later, an ace by Carpenter capped off a 5-0 run for the Crimson Jayhawks, giving them a 13-11 lead. Errors put the Blue Jayhawks on a quick 3-0 run, retaking the lead, 14-13. Both sides went back-and-forth for a few points, tying the game several times, however, it was the Crimson side that took advantage of a couple late errors to win the final set.
Kansas officially opens the season on Friday, Aug. 29 when the Jayhawks host the Kansas Invitational. KU will play Utah Valley to start the 2014 season at 11:30 a.m.
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