No. 17 Kansas Finishes Non-Conference Play Undefeated
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas Volleyball concluded non-conference regular season play with a resounding win over Missouri State, 3-0 (25-13, 25-14, 25-16), to remain undefeated and clinch the Jayhawk Classic title on Saturday night in front of a packed Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
Sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne registered 13 kills with just one attacking error and junior middle blocker Janae Hall posted a season-high 10 kills on 16 errorless swings to extend the 17th-ranked Jayhawks’ best start in program history to 12-0.
Senior outside hitter Tiana Dockery took home Jayhawk Classic MVP honors after finishing the weekend with 31 kills, including 11 on Saturday night. In the four non-conference tournament titles KU has won this season, four different Jayhawks have earned MVP honors. Junior libero Cassie Wait and Payne also earned a spot on the Jayhawk Classic All-Tournament team. Wait averaged 5.6 digs per set over the weekend and Payne posted a tournament-best 4.0 kills per set.
The Jayhawks’ offense, led by 44 assists from sophomore setter Ainise Havili, enforced its will throughout the match on Saturday with 50 kills on a .380 attack percentage. Wait and senior Anna Church anchored KU’s passing and back-row defense with 16 and 10 digs, respectively. Kansas recorded six aces with no reception errors and held Missouri State to a .133 hitting percentage on the night.
“I just felt like we kept pressure on them all night with our serving and attacking,” Head Coach Ray Bechard said. “Missouri State is a good team with good wins and I think the key was to come out strong particularly in set three because they’ve been down 2-0 in matches this year only to come out fighting.”
Kansas set the tone early by jumping out to leads of 9-3 and 21-7 before a convincing 25-13 first-set victory to open the match. Sophomore outside hitter Madison Rigdon and Payne led the Jayhawks in the first set, combining for nine of KU’s 17 kills in the set. The Jayhawks held the Bears to a .053 hitting percentage in set one.
In the second set, Kansas scored 19 of its 25 points on kills during a 25-14 win. The Jayhawks and Bears were tied, 6-6, before Kansas separated with an 8-0 run. Hall contributed three kills and Dockery had two kills during the run which gave KU a 14-6 lead. The Jayhawks sealed the second set with back-to-back kills from Hall and Dockery.
Kansas emphatically shut the door on an undefeated non-conference regular season by recording a .414 hitting percentage during a 25-16 third-set win. With the score tight early in the set 5-5, junior Maggie Anderson sparked a 6-2 KU run for the go-ahead lead. Anderson totaled two aces with no service errors on Saturday night. Kansas clinched the win off a service error from the Bears.
Missouri State (9-4) was led by All-Tournament selection Lynsey Wright, who finished third in hitting percentage (.456) among Jayhawk Classic competitors, behind KU’s Hall (.529) and Payne (.486).
The Jayhawks open the Big 12 Conference season at home against Kansas State on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m.
Jayhawk Classic All-Tournament Team
• Tiana Dockery, MVP (Kansas)
• Kelsie Payne (Kansas)
• Cassie Wait (Kansas)
• McKayla Ferris (Gonzaga)
• Emmy Allen (Gonzaga)
• Lynsey Wright (Missouri State)
• Madison Mosier (UMKC)
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