Kansas Blocks Red Raiders in Solid Sweep
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Strong play at the front of the net saw Kansas out-block the Red Raiders 13.5-2.5. The solid defense held Texas Tech to a sub-.100 attack percentage as the Jayhawks rolled over Texas Tech in straight sets Saturday afternoon in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, 25-14, 25-19, 25-20.
In fact, every aspect of Kansas’ (16-6, 4-4) game was impressive from the start, firing out to a 7.0-1.0 blocking advantage in the first set against the Red Raiders (15-5, 3-5), while holding the visitor’s attack percentage to a negative -.071. By the end of the afternoon, KU posted a .290 attack efficiency, the 11th time this season the Jayhawks hit above .250, while stifling the opposition to less than a .100 hitting percentage (.075) for the sixth time in 2014.
“You can talk about attacks and kills, but blocking is the most intimidating fundamental in the game,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “When you start blocking teams, you can really change the game. Tiana Dockery blocked a ball in the second set – it was just a thunder block – and I really thought it changed the momentum of the game.”
Several factors made a case for being the highlight of the afternoon between the Jayhawks’ commanding victory, the Douglas County Special Olympics Team playing during intermission and the several Kansas volleyball alumni who made their way to the HFAC court following the match to honor Bechard for his 1,000th career victory that he recorded earlier this season. The team hosted an alumni reception following the match.
“My favorite player I’ve ever coached was back today – my daughter Ashley (Bechard) Henkelman,” Bechard said. “I hope she feels the same way, and she brought my granddaughter, too, so that’s great. But, yes, there are a lot of faces here that I haven’t seen in a long time and I’m looking forward to getting caught back up with them.”
Kansas coaching veteran Ray Bechard shares
high fives and smiles with generations of KU
volleyball alumni following the match.Sophomore middle blocker Tayler Soucie led the defensive effort at the net with eight blocks on the afternoon, while senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers followed suit with a season-high seven blocks of her own. Albers achieved her sixth double-double of the season with 10 kills and 10 digs. The Jayhawks’ other middle, freshman Kelsie Payne, was next on the leaderboard with five blocks to complement her seven kills and a .429 attack percentage, which led all players on the floor.
Aside from her big-time block in set two, junior outside hitter Tiana Dockery racked up seven kills of her own. Freshman setter Ainise Havili paced the offense with 28 assists, and sophomore libero Cassie Wait led the quick contest with 13 digs.
“We beat a quality team today and to do it 3-0 was big for us, there are very few teams that win like that against them,” Bechard said. “It was just good from start to finish. I felt like we were in control pretty much the whole time.”
Texas Tech started the match with several strong serves, putting the Jayhawks in an early 5-1 deficit. Albers made sure that didn’t last for long by blasting her first kill of the match, leading to seven-straight KU points and an 8-5 advantage. The Red Raiders burned a timeout and following the break another Kansas run, putting the Jayhawks up 11-6. Moments later, Wait made one of the key plays of the set, diving to get a ball over the net while falling out of bounds, leading to a Tech attack error. With the Horejsi crowd on their feet, KU seized all momentum by emphatically ending the set with five-consecutive points for a 25-14 win.
Set two saw Texas Tech quickly put Kansas in a 4-2 deficit. Again, the Jayhawks wasted no time turning it around. A trio of kills from Albers, Dockery and Soucie quickly flipped the script, with KU reclaiming the lead, 8-5. Following another kill from Dockery, five-straight Red Raider points put them back in the lead 11-9 and forced a KU timeout. After the stoppage, senior outside hitter Sara McClinton and Albers connected on four of the five points to place Kansas in front once again, 13-12. A balanced offensive attack through the middle portion of the set kept both sides within reach. Payne slammed one of her three kills in the set highlighting a decisive 3-0 run, putting Kansas in a controlling 22-17 advantage. Tech reeled off back-to-back points, but Kansas closed with three-straight scores to claim set two, 25-19 and take a 2-0 lead into intermission.
KU came out of the break strong, claiming a quick 4-0 lead. Two plays later, a split block between Soucie and Dockery ignited a 3-0 Jayhawks run, grasping a 7-2 lead. Fighting to extend the match, the Red Raiders slowly battled their way back, tying the game at 11-11. With momentum on Texas Tech’s side, two kills from Albers and one from Soucie erased that feeling as KU pulled ahead 15-13. A string of kills from McClinton forced Texas Tech into burning its last timeout as Kansas pulled away. With the sweep in sight, Albers jumped on the chance with three kills over the final four points, leading Kansas to the 25-19 win.
- Head coach Ray Bechard recorded career win No. 1,005 on Saturday. 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 289 wins at Kansas are the second-most among active Big 12 coaches.
- With six kills against Texas Tech, senior outside hitter Sara McClinton passed Judy Desch (1,146; 1984-87) for ninth on the all-time Kansas career list. McClinton now has 1,151 for her career, making her one of two (Haley Eckerman, Texas) players in the Big 12 with 1,000 career kills.
- Freshman setter Ainise Havili chalked up her 11th double-double of the year with 45 assists and 11 digs. Five of KU’s seven Big 12 matches have resulted in double-doubles for Havili, the Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year.
- Senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers chalked up her sixth double-double of the year with 10 kills and 10 digs against Texas Tech, the 13th DD of her career. The totals pushed her over 250 kills (256) and 200 digs (202) for her senior season. She is now the 12th player in KU volleyball history have surpassed 800 kills/750 digs.
- Albers was just three blocks away from a triple-double thanks to her season-high seven blocks. A jack of all trades, Albers’ 256 kills lead the team while her 202 digs rank third and her 72 blocks are second-best.
- Sophomore libero Cassie Wait snapped her five-match streak of 20 digs or more, but she still led all players with 13 digs.
Kansas will travel to Forth Worth to close the season series with TCU. The Jayhawks swept the Horned Frogs in their previous meeting this season (10/18). First serve on Saturday is set for 1 p.m.
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