No. 10 Kansas Reaches 20 Wins, Defeating Iowa State 3-1

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#UNPRECEDENTED – 2015 Program Records
✓ Fastest team to 20 wins (21 matches)
✓ Highest AVCA Coaches Poll ranking (No. 7)
✓ Longest winning streak (W19)
✓ Best start (19-0)

AMES, Iowa – Kansas Volleyball continues to reach unprecedented heights.

The 10th-ranked Jayhawks rallied from first-set loss to defeat Iowa State on Wednesday night at Hilton Coliseum in four sets, 3-1 (20-25, 28-26, 25-15, 25-20). With the victory, Kansas (20-1, 8-1 Big 12) becomes the fastest team in program history to reach 20 wins in a season.

“It’s a great feeling,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said shortly after celebrating with his team. “It speaks to the sustained excellence of the Jayhawk Volleyball culture that we are continuing to build, and we had some of that out there tonight.”

Sophomore standouts Kelsie Payne and Ainise Havili set the tone for the Jayhawks’ first regular season series sweep over Iowa State since 2004 and second victory in Ames in the last 11 tries. Right-side hitter Payne set a career-high 26 kills on a .397 hitting percentage, while Havili set the offense to a .379 hitting percentage during the last two sets and posted her seventh double-double of the season with 46 assists and a career-high 20 digs.

Iowa State (13-7, 6-3) was led by three players with double-figure kills and a service game that posted the most aces Kansas has allowed all season (seven aces on five service errors). ISU entered the week with a No. 21 ranking in the NCAA RPI.

The Cyclones jumped out of the gate with a 25-20 first-set victory, in which the Cyclones hit .370 with 20 kills and 27 digs. It marked just the third time this season Kansas has lost the opening set of a match.  

Kansas bounced back with an epic 28-26 equalizer in the second set. The Jayhawks started the set with the resolve of an aggressive service game and an improved front-line for an early 8-3 lead, recording two aces and two blocks during the opening run. Iowa State slowly rallied to an 11-11 tie, marking the first of 10 ties in the set. Down 19-16, senior Anna Church dove for a dig, keeping the ball alive for an eventual kill from Madison Rigdon to avoid KU’s largest deficit of the set. The longest rally of the night resulted in a kill from senior Tiana Dockery, which brought KU within one point, 19-18.

Iowa State took advantage of costly Kansas errors to take a 23-21 lead in the second set, but that’s also when Payne rotated back in the lineup for the Jayhawks. Payne lifted Kansas down the stretch, accounting for five points (four kills and one block-assist), as the Jayhawks staved off match point and grinded out a 28-26 second-set victory. 

“I’m most proud of the end of that second set, where we didn’t get many breaks but we fought off a bunch of points that would have got us in trouble,” Bechard said. “That 28-26 score resembles just how hard we need to play and the energy we need to play with. That momentum carried into the third set; stubbed our toe a little in the fourth set, but we got back under control to finish the match.”

Kansas rode the wave of momentum from the second set to a dominating 25-15 third-set win. KU posted a hitting percentage of .444 with an 80 percent side-out rate to take a 2-1 set advantage in the match. 

The Jayhawks survived a series of runs to prevail with a 25-20 fourth-set victory. Kansas took an early 9-4 lead in the set and was able to hold off a 10-3 rally that put Iowa State ahead, 14-12. Another four-point KU run resulted in a 17-15 go-ahead lead for the Jayhawks. ISU was able to cut KU’s lead to one point, 20-19, before a pair of Rigdon kills and four ISU attacking errors fueled a 5-1 Jayhawk run to clinch the set and the match, 25-20.

With a Texas loss at TCU on Wednesday night, the Jayhawks move into a tie for first place in the Big 12 standings with the Longhorns at 8-1 in league play.

Kansas returns home to play host to Baylor on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. CT at Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

• KANSAS-IOWA STATE SERIES: Kansas sweeps the regular season series with Iowa State for the first time since 2004. KU won the first meeting of the season against Iowa State, 3-0, on Oct. 10 in Lawrence. Iowa State leads the all-time series with Kansas, 47-40-1. It is KU’s second road victory over Iowa State in the last 11 matches in Ames
• 20 WINS: At 20-1, KU reaches 20 wins in a season for the fourth consecutive season and 15th time overall in program history. The 2015 Jayhawks are the fastest team in program history to reach 20 wins in a season, besting 1991’s 20 wins in 23 matches.
• SET DOMINANCE: KU’s set record improves to 60-9 (.870). The Jayhawks have yet to play a five-set match this season.
• OPENING SET LOSS: Kansas improves to 2-1 when losing the opening set of a match this season. All three first-set losses have been on the road – at Arkansas (W, 3-1), at Texas (L, 0-3), and at Iowa State (W, 3-1).
• WEDNESDAY WIN: Kansas improves to 5-0 on Wednesdays this season.
• BLOCKING MARGIN: KU out-blocked Iowa State 12.0 to 3.0. The +9 blocking margin ties KU’s season-best for the third time. The Jayhawks also out-blocked West Virginia (10.0-1.0) and McNeese State (9.0-0.0) by nine.
• PAYNE TRAIN: Sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne recorded a career-high 26 kills on a .397 hitting percentage. Payne’s 26 kills are the most of any Big 12 player in a conference match this season. Her season hitting percentage increased to a Big 12-leading .406 clip. She also now ranks second in the Big 12 in kills per set (4.1).
• HAVILI CAN DIG IT: Sophomore setter Ainise Havili posted her seventh double-double of the season with 46 assists and a career-high 20 digs. It marks the third time in the last five matches that Havili has led or co-led KU in digs.
• SOUCIE’S BIG BLOCK: Junior middle blocker Tayler Soucie recorded a team-high eight block-assists. In the last four matches, Soucie is averaging 1.6 blocks per set.