Kansas Heads Home InnTowner Champs, Downs Bowling Green in Five
MADISON, Wis. – Sprinting to defend the floor, senior defensive specialist Jaime Mathieu kept a ball alive in the fifth that resulted in a Caroline Jarmoc kill, all but cementing Kansas’ victory over Bowling Green to win the InnTowner Invitational, Saturday afternoon inside the UW Field House, 25-22, 22-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-8.
Hot off a thrilling comeback win against tournament host Wisconsin the night before, Kansas (7-3) ran into a scrappy Bowling Green (1-6) squad, ready to challenge its undefeated weekend. The Falcons battled, shaking off a 2-1 KU lead to force a fifth set.
But the Jayhawks held their ground, punching out a .375 attack percentage in the decisive frame to claim their second pre-conference tournament championship of the year, the first occurring at the Arizona Invitational – the only other preseason tournament KU has played in thus far.
“We left the door open in set two, and they are a very senior-laden team and had a great year last year – they will win a lot of matches this year, too,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “I liked the way we finished in set five. It was a good way to close out a successful tournament.”
Redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc earned Tournament MVP honors after leading the Jayhawks with 42 kills and a .352 attack efficiency to accompany her team-high 18 blocks (1.38 blocks per set). Senior libero Brianne Riley and sophomore outside hitter Tiana Dockery also earned All-Tournament accolades. Riley came up with 71 digs (5.46 per set) over the weekend, while Dockery’s career-high 21 kills led KU in its upset over No. 25 Wisconsin earlier in the tournament.
On Saturday, Jarmoc cranked out a season-high 20 kills on a .515 attack efficiency. Riley was big in the back row with a season-high 31 digs, while Mathieu also put on her best performance of the season with 22. Senior setter Erin McNorton handed out a season-best 61 assists, while junior outside hitter Chelsea Albers collected her fourth double-double of the year with 14 kills and 13 digs.
In the opening set, Bowling Green worked to tie the score 6-6 before Kansas broke it open with a 6-0 run. Kills from freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie, Albers and Jarmoc saw KU surge forward, 19-11. What looked to be a lopsided first set quickly turned close when the Falcons cut the deficit to a slim three points, 22-19.
Redshirt freshman Maggie Anderson checked in for the first time as a Jayhawk and delivered a good serve, which resulted in an attack error and set point. A final service error by the Falcons ended their rally and KU took the lead with the 25-22 victory. Albers, McClinton and Jarmoc tallied 12 of KU’s 14 kills in the set, all three errorless.
Bowling Green started the second frame with a 3-0 run, but KU went to work and reversed the early deficit in a hurry. But the second frame didn’t contain any of the big runs seen in the first set. The Falcons were omnipresent, coming back to tie the set at 19-19 and again at 20-20 before winning five of the next seven points to tie the match with 25-22 win.
The Falcons used that momentum to take a 5-1 lead early in the third. While Kansas came out hitting negative to start the set, Bowling Green was clearing the .400 mark in the initial minutes. After a heads up kill from McNorton closed the gap, 6-5, Bowling Green shot forward with a 5-1 run and forced a Kansas timeout.
Trailing 11-6, KU started chipping away. An ace from McNorton and redshirt freshman Janae Hall’s first kill of the weekend cut the Falcon lead to two, 12-10. Back-to-back Jarmoc kills finally restored the set, 13-13. A well-timed block by Jarmoc and fellow redshirt senior Catherine Carmichael handed KU its first lead of the set.
With the lead now in tow, KU worked to keep it. Kills from McClinton and Hall pushed the Jayhawk advantage to three, 20-17, and prompted a Falcon timeout. Directly out of the timeout, Jarmoc landed an ace – and then her blockers took over. Hall, Albers and McClinton assisted in three-straight blocks to close the set, 25-18.
After neither had played many minutes in the first two matches of the weekend, Carmichael and Hall made significant impact in the finale as the duo teamed up for a block and Carmichael notched a kill to help KU out to a 6-4 lead in the fourth.
Yet, the back-and-forth played continued. An attack error on KU’s side followed by one for the Falcons gave BG its first lead of the set, 11-10. Leads were quick and rarely held for longer than a few points. In fact, the lead changed hands eight times over the course of the match. Finding themselves trailing 19-17, the Jayhawks used a timeout. Moments later they would use another as Bowling Green pressed on, 22-18.
Clutch kills from Albers and Hall drove a 3-0 scoring run, cutting the BG lead back down, 22-21 heading into the final points, but a costly attack error ended the set in Bowling Green’s favor to force a fifth set, 25-23.
Despite losing its 2-1 lead, Kansas wasted no time reclaiming control in the fifth set. A 5-0 run powered the Jayhawks to a 7-2 lead. Expectedly, the Falcons clawed back into it, cutting into the KU lead, 10-7. Kansas held its ground – scoring the last four points of the match to walk away with the 15-8 victory and the tournament crown.
-Friday: vs. Milwaukee – W, 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-10)
-Friday: at No. 25 Wisconsin – W, 3-2 (22-25, 21-25, 25-20, 25-21, 17-15)
-Saturday: vs. Bowling Green – W, 3-2 (25-22, 22-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-8)
– Senior libero Brianne Riley recorded a season-high 31 digs to move her within one dig of becoming eighth all-time on the Big 12 Conference’s career digs list (1,705), currently held by former Nebraska standout Kayla Banwarth (1,706; 2007-10).
– Riley now has double-digit digs in 36-consecutive matches.
– Redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc’s 1,099 career kills are the second-most among current Big 12 players. She trails fellow senior Kaitlynn Pelger from Kansas State.
– Jarmoc’s five blocks also pulled her closer to the KU all-time blocks leader. Her 465 career blocks ranks second only to Amanda Reves (514; 1996-99).
– Redshirt freshman Maggie Anderson made her first appearance as a Jayhawk, and even recorded her first career kill in the fifth set.
Kansas returns to Lawrence for a five-game homestand, beginning with the Kansas Invitational, Sept. 20-22.
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