No. 12 Kansas Moves to 15-0, Defeats West Virginia
LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 12 Kansas Volleyball’s high-octane offense continued to steam ahead in a 3-0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-12) victory over West Virginia on Saturday evening in front of a capacity crowd at Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
The Jayhawks (15-0, 3-0 Big 12), who lead the nation in kills per set, registered a .597 hitting percentage on the day with just four attacking errors. KU’s top-three offensive options on Saturday combined for a .609 clip, led by sophomore outside hitter Madison Rigdon’s 11 kills on 15 errorless swings. Senior outside hitter Tiana Dockery posted 10 kills on a .471 hitting percentage and sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne registered nine kills on a .643 hitting percentage.
Sophomore setter Ainise Havili set the pace for the offense with 35 assists to improve her season average to an NCAA-best 12.6 assists per set.
“The first number that pops out is that .597 hitting percentage,” KU head coach Ray Bechard said. “That’s a pretty ridiculous number — only four hitting errors in three sets. There were a few too many services errors, but offensively I think we were as good as we’ve been all year.”
Kansas tied a program-record 15-match winning streak with a solid defense as well, holding West Virginia (5-10, 0-3) to a .147 attack percentage with 10 blocks and out-gaining the Mountaineers in digs, 27 to 14.
“I think the team chemistry is a big part of our success,” Rigdon said. “We love each other and we say that we have each other’s backs. We work for each other and that makes a big difference out there.”
Kansas came out strong in the first set with kills from Janae Hall, Payne and Dockery along with a pair of blocks that forced WVU to take their first time out with KU leading, 7-2. Rigdon came out of the huddle with back-to-back kills to fuel a four-point Kansas run. The Jayhawks led for the entire first set and led by as much as 11 before a block-assist from Hall and Dockery gave Kansas a 25-14 win.
The Mountaineers recovered to take an early 8-4 lead in the second set. Junior Maggie Anderson helped the Jayhawks rally from the deficit by serving a 4-0 KU run and tied the set, 8-8, on an ace. The set was tied two more times before a 9-2 KU that all but gave the Jayhawks a two-set lead heading into intermission. Havili evenly maintained control of the court by accurately distributing attacks to the tune of a .609 second-set hitting percentage. Kansas went into intermission with a 25-18 victory.
Kansas closed in on its 15th consecutive win with a dominating 25-12 third-set victory. Junior middle blocker Tayler Soucie recorded three of her four total kills in the third set, while the Jayhawks cleaned up their service game with three aces and just one serving error in the final set.
12th-ranked Kansas travels to face Texas Tech on Wednesday night in Lubbock, Texas (6 p.m. Central).
Bechard concluded, “It’s October — a good time to still be undefeated — but we know that the meat of the Big 12 schedule is still in front of us. We have to take every opponent in the Big 12 very seriously.”
• At 15-0, KU continues the best start in program history while tying a program-record 15-match winning streak.
• Kansas is one of four undefeated teams in NCAA Division I (USC, Arizona State, Washington).
• Kansas leads the all-time series with West Virginia, 9-0, including a 5-0 mark in Lawrence.
• KU recorded 11 kills on just 17 attack attempts in the first set (.588). It ties a season-low for attacks in a set (17) with the second set against South Dakota State.
• With nine digs on Saturday, junior libero Cassie Wait now has 1,034 career digs and moves into 10th-place on KU’s career digs list, passing Katie Martincich (2006-09; 1,029).
• Head coach Ray Bechard won his 310th match at Kansas (310-226; .578).
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