No. 24 Kansas Opens Jayhawk Classic With North Texas Sweep
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Behind 15 powerful kills from freshman outside hitter Madison Rigdon, Kansas captured the opening match of the 2014 Jayhawk Classic by sweeping North Texas 25-19, 25-17, 25-19 Friday afternoon in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
With the win, No. 24 Kansas increased its record to 10-2 on the season, while handing North Texas only its second loss. Rigdon served up three aces to go with her 15 kills, and senior outside hitter Sara McClinton bashed 10 kills for the Jayhawks as they “out-killed” the Mean Green, 44-31. Freshman setter Ainise Havili controlled the offensive tempo by dishing out 35 assists, while sophomore libero Cassie Wait led the Jayhawks with 11 digs.
The solid effort was enough to knock off the Mean Green, who entered the weekend riding their best start in school history. Prior to today’s loss, the only other defeat UNT had suffered was a five-setter at the hands of then-No. 15 Missouri.
“North Texas has been down 0-2 to some teams and came back,” said head coach Ray Bechard, who recorded his 999th career victory Friday morning. “They were down 0-2 to Wichita State and came back to win in five, so they’re not a team that is going to go away. We knew we would need to play some good volleyball down the stretch. When you’re playing three times in two days, anytime you can minimize the sets will bode well into tonight and tomorrow, as well.”
Leading the floor in the first set with six kills and four digs, Rigdon’s presence guided the Jayhawks to a convincing 25-19 win. A pair of kills by McClinton and sophomore middle blocker Janae Hall, coupled with a pair of Mean Green attack errors, opened up an early 4-0 lead. North Texas managed to slowly claw its way back into the match, 11-10, but Kansas followed suit with a timely 3-0 run, putting them up 14-10. Moments later, Kansas pulled away after scoring on six of the next seven points to push its lead out to 21-14 and forcing North Texas to burn a timeout. Three quick points by North Texas cut the lead to four, but Rigdon slammed down a kill and an ace to put away the set.
Seniors Chelsea Albers and McClinton helped pace the Jayhawks through set two, holding North Texas to a .100 attack percentage. Rigdon led the team with four commanding kills as Kansas picked up right where it left off. Havili opened the scoring by slamming down an ace, which sparked a quick 4-0 lead. Through the middle of the set, Kansas never relinquished the momentum as Albers, McClinton and Rigdon paced the Jayhawks with several kills each to sustain a comfortable 15-10 lead. Several plays later, sophomore setter Maggie Anderson registered her third ace of the year, increasing the Jayhawks lead to six, 18-12. One final run added more cushion to their lead, which was capped off by McClinton blasting home a kill and giving the set to Kansas, 25-17.
Overcoming a slow start out of the intermission, the offense picked up steam in the middle of the set, powering home the sweep over the Mean Green. North Texas and Kansas traded points for the beginning portion of the set, which saw the Mean Green take their first lead of the match at 5-4. A series of kills by North Texas saw its lead grow to 11-7, forcing Kansas to call timeout. The tides turned and Kansas’ deficit was quickly forgotten as a 15-3 run shattered any doubt. Kansas surged into the lead for good, 22-14. North Texas wouldn’t surrender, registering a couple of points, but a service error cemented the Kansas sweep.
- Head coach Ray Bechard sits at career win No. 999 after defeating North Texas.
- Senior outside hitter Sara McClinton needs 65 kills to pass Jana Correa (1,131; 2003-06) for 10th on the all-time Kansas career list. She recorded double-digit kills against UNT, the 53rd time in her career that she’s tallied 10 or more.
- Freshman outside hitter Madison Rigdon’s three aces were a career-high.
- North Texas came into Friday’s match ranked sixth in the country in service aces (2.16 per set). KU held the Mean Green to one ace and seven service errors.
Head coach Ray Bechard will go after his 1,000th career win when No. 24 Kansas takes on Cleveland State Friday, Sept. 19. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m.
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