Dockery Goes Off, Kansas Wins in Waco
WACO, Texas – Junior outside hitter Tiana Dockery connected every time it mattered – and then some – on her way to a season-high 19 kills. Her offensive onslaught in the Ferrell Center powered Kansas to its first Big 12 Conference win in four sets at Baylor, 25-22, 18-25, 28-26, 25-22.
Last year marked the first victory for Kansas (13-5, 1-3) in Waco since the 2010 season. In the ensuing trip to Baylor (10-9, 1-4), KU picked up back-to-back wins in Waco for the first time since the 2002 and 2003 seasons. While Baylor committed nine attack errors in the set one, both teams hovered around an efficient .305 attack efficiency by the break. Errors haunted both team after intermission, and even saw Baylor build late leads against the Jayhawks in both the third and fourth sets. On the hunt for their first Big 12 win, however, the Jayhawks wouldn’t have it. They shook off set point at 24-23 to win set three, 28-26. Trailing, 21-18 in the fourth, Kansas ended the final frame on a 7-1 run to claim the definition of a grind-it-out win.
“As we’ve found out, anybody in this league can beat anybody at any point in time, but it’s the way that we did it with a really gutty effort in set three and then a big run to end set four that is really satisfying,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “It’s what we needed.”
Dockery carried the torch for the offense. Her third-straight match in double figures was a big one as she busted loose for a season-high 19 kills and added eight digs. Joining her was fellow veteran outside hitter, senior Sara McClinton, who churned out 16 kills and a team-best .371 attack percentage. Senior Chelsea Albers, the third of the veteran outside trio, dug a season-best 16 digs and added nine kills and five blocks.
Defensively, sophomore Tayler Soucie nearly matched her nine kills by leading the floor with eight blocks. Sophomore libero Cassie Wait crossed the 20-dig mark for the seventh time this season, while freshman setter Ainise Havili’s 13 digs accounted for her ninth double-double of the year. Havili’s bigger story lied in her career-high 56 assists and three aces.
Dockery and Albers came on strong, churning out two kills apiece in the early minutes. When Soucie and Havili teamed up for a block, the Jayhawks already found themselves in front, 10-4, and heading to the benches for a Baylor timeout. Midway through the opening set, Kansas was swinging at a .600 attack efficiency and Dockery’s swing doubled up the score in favor of the Jayhawks, 16-8. Baylor fought right back, stringing together a 10-4 run to pull within a point, but Dockery’s sixth kill of the set and a Baylor attack error handed KU the lead, 25-22.
Kansas worked to keep the momentum that Baylor was building at the end of set one from creeping into the next period. After freshman middle blocker Kelsie Payne swung for back-to-back kills, Dockery climbed back into the driver’s seat and handed KU the lead. The lopsided score from set one, however, wasn’t around in set two as a KU service error and a kill from Lauren Jones gave the Bears’ their first lead of the match. Trailing 13-10, KU used a timeout. Moments later, Jones would be helped off the floor with an injury, giving further fire power to the Bears’ comeback. Baylor responded with a 4-0 rally and ultimately took the set, 25-18. The teams went to break tied at a set each.
Havili landed her second ace of the evening to give the Jayhawks a spark directly out of intermission. Again, the Bears stacked up a scoring rally – this time a 4-0 streak – to pull in front, 10-7. Dockery put a stop to it with kill No. 13, and Kansas started working its way back. Clutch kills from sophomore middle blocker Janae Hall kept KU within two until BU answered with consecutive kills. Trailing 19-15, Kansas needed a timeout.
It worked. Soucie and McClinton teamed up for a block, which Soucie immediately followed with a kill to ignite a 4-0 rally and tie the set at 19-19. Big time plays from freshman defensive specialist Tori Miller kept the ball in the air for a pair of crucial points, allowing McClinton to step up as a senior and smash three-straight kills to knot the score. Havili landed an ace to finally put KU in front, 23-22, but the work was far from over. Baylor fought to force extra points, but McClinton stood in the way. From the 20-point mark, she hit the gas for four kills to power the Jayhawks to a 28-26 win and the 2-1 lead.
Big blocks made the difference in set four with the Albers/Soucie duo on one edge of the net and Dockery/Soucie on the other. A well-executed dump kill from Havili followed the blocking start, but neither team created space from the other in set four until McClinton’s first error of the evening opened the door for a slight Baylor edge, 12-9.
A slight edge was all Kansas would allow. Kills from Dockery and Soucie combined with a vital block off the hands of Soucie and Havili swung the lead back to the Jayhawks. Again, the Bears clawed back, erasing an 18-18 tie with three-straight points. Suddenly behind 21-18, Bechard signaled for a timeout and reminded his team of the same deficit they faced in the third set. So, Kansas repeated the same ending – with an added boost. Baylor would score just one more point to KU’s seven, powering the 25-22 win.
- Head coach Ray Bechard recorded career win No. 1,002 on Friday night. His 716 wins at Barton County Community earned him an induction into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 1998 – his first season at Kansas. Since then, his 286 wins at Kansas are the second-most among active Big 12 coaches.
- The Kansas-Baylor series is now 22-18 all-time, in favor of the Bears.
- The win marks the first time Kansas has won back-to-back meetings in Waco since Nov. 16, 2002 (W, 3-0) and Nov. 26, 2003 (W, 3-0).
- Senior outside hitter Sara McClinton needs 13 kills to pass Jana Correa (1,131; 2003-06) for 10th on the all-time Kansas career list.
- Freshman setter Ainise Havili picked up her ninth double-double of the year (56 assists/13 digs). Her 56 assists were a career-high.
- Junior outside hitter Tiana Dockery extended her streak to three matches with double-digit kills (10 vs. Kansas State; 12 vs. Texas; 19 vs. Baylor). Her 19 kills in Waco were a season-high.
Kansas continues its Big 12 slate on the road at West Virginia on Oct. 15. First serve is set for 5:30 p.m. CT.
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