Upstart Bison Upset Jayhawks in Five Sets Friday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 22 Kansas was on pace to start the season 2-0, but a battling Lipscomb team refused to allow it. The Bison topped the Jayhawks in a five-set thriller: 25-17, 25-18, 14-25, 24-26, 12-15 Friday evening in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
Senior Sara McClinton led the Jayhawks (1-1) with a team-high 13 kills, with six coming in the critical fourth set that saw KU fall by the minimum two points. Senior Chelsea Albers (12 kills/11 digs) and freshman Ainise Havili (40 assists/17 digs) each registered double-doubles in the loss. The Jayhawks put themselves in contention to start the season 2-0 after taking control during the first two sets, but were unable to finish off the Bison (1-1) as the opposing team rallied to steal the next three.
Head coach Ray Bechard instructed setter
Ainise Havili during a timeout.
“When you have the chance to put a team away, you better do it,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “We certainly were in control of the match, but it’s not over until you score the final point. There were moments tonight where youth showed a little bit, but they’re going to have to be able to respond in that moment and respond in a better way.”
Freshman middle blocker Kayla Cheadle was one such responder. She led the floor with nine total blocks and tallied three kills without an error. Havili aced two serves and tied sophomore libero Cassie Wait to pace the defense with 17 digs, while freshman outside hitter Madison Rigdon followed Albers and McClinton on the leaderboard with six kills.
After churning out 22 kills, five team blocks and four aces in the first two sets, Kansas cruised into intermission with a 2-0 lead. Lipscomb, voted by the league’s coaches to win the Atlantic Sun Conference this season, came out fighting in the third set. The visitors claimed set three in convincing fashion, 25-14. However, still in position to put the match away, Kansas muscled its way through a tough fourth set. As Kansas sat at match point, 24-23, Lipscomb benefitted on a critical KU attack error to tie the frame. A kill and an ace later, the Bison had forced a fifth set. A 3-1 advantage in the fifth set would be KU’s last lead of the night.
The 2013 A-Sun Player of the Year, senior middle blocker Jewell Dobson was also voted to repeat the honor in 2014. She went on to lead all players Friday night with 20 kills. Behind her was the 2013 A-Sun Libero of the Year, junior Bri McCombs, who paced both teams with 20 digs.
Just like their morning game, the Jayhawks started off the first set by jumping to out to a commanding lead that they never relinquished. A series of early errors by the Bison sparked a 7-0 Kansas run, which forced Lipscomb to call an early timeout. McClinton picked up right where she left off from the morning game as she hammered four powerful kills throughout the opening set. Albers and Cheadle dominated up front, blocking three shots. Havili also made her presence felt throughout the set by dishing out 11 assists and serving two aces.
Rigdon was the hero of the second set, leading the Jayhawks with four kills and an ace in a 25-18 win. Havili opened the second set with a pair of kills, a lead that Kansas would not surrender. Freshman defensive specialist Tori Miller highlighted a pair of 3-0 Jayhawk runs with her first ace of the season, giving Kansas a 14-11 advantage. Freshman middle blocker Kelsie Payne finished off the set with her first kill of the season, lifting Kansas to a 25-18 lead.
Lipscomb showed off a powerful attack in the third set with a .314 hitting percentage, which ultimately was enough to turn the match around. Lipscomb started the third by jumping out to a quick 6-2 lead after a sequence of 3-0 runs put the Jayhawks behind for the first time during the match.
Now aiming to seize control, Lipscomb continued the strong attack into the fourth set, jumping ahead 6-3. Kansas responded with five-straight points of their own with a pair of kills from Albers and a pair of blocks by junior outside hitter Tiana Dockery and sophomore middle blocker Tayler Soucie. Moments later, a Soucie bomb sparked a 3-0 run for the Jayhawks and put them up 13-9. Lipscomb kept creeping back into the game, scoring six of seven points to take a 19-17 lead. Albers, McClinton, and Cheadle rattled off three-straight points, but it wasn’t enough to put away the Bison. When an attack error ended KU’s chances at match point, Lipscomb setter Kayla Ostrum blasted a kill to give her side the critical 26-24 set win.
With momentum on its side, Lipscomb put together a 3-0 and a 4-0 run in the fifth set, which proved to be too much of a deficit to overcome. Kansas came within a point, 13-12, before falling to Lipscomb 15-12 in the decisive set.
- Sophomore middle blocker Tayler Soucie made her 24th-consecutive start.
- Senior outside hitter Sara McClinton’s 13 kills puts her at 977 for her career.
No. 22 Kansas will square off against No. 23 Creighton Saturday afternoon inside the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. First serve is set for 2 p.m. and will air on ESPN3.
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