Kansas Succumbs to Five-Set Funk, Loses at TCU
FORT WORTH – For the first time this season, five different Jayhawks chalked up double-digit kills as Kansas shot out a two-set lead inside TCU’s University Recreation Center Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, it became the fifth-time this season that the Jayhawks saw a lead turn into in a five-set loss, 25-19, 25-18, 20-25, 23-25, 16-18.
The first meeting between Kansas (16-7, 4-5) and TCU (14-10, 4-6) came just two weeks ago, where the Jayhawks rattled off a season-high with a .408 attack percentage as a team. Looking to repeat the feat, the Jayhawks fired out to a 2-0 lead by hitting an impressive .431 through sets one and two. From there, the Horned Frogs showed why they’re an impressive 11-2 at home as they forced 31 Jayhawk attack errors in the next three sets.
KU’s hot hitting was wiped out with .000 attack percentages in both set three and set four before seven errors accounted for nearly half of TCU’s point in the decisive fifth set. Despite the error-plagued offense, Kansas still found itself sitting at 15-15 and 16-16 in the final frame, until the Horned Frogs closed the book on their improbable comeback.
“When you put yourself in a good situation on the road like we did in the first two sets, you have to carry through,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “We had six hitting errors in the first two sets and then 24 in sets three and four – just lack of focus. That’s a disappointing outcome and not the way we wanted to start the second-half of Big 12, but obviously there’s a lot we will learn from it. We will regroup and be ready to go on Wednesday.”
Making her first start of the Big 12 season, sophomore middle blocker Janae Hall was fantastic. She churned out eight kills on eight swings by intermission and finished with a career-high 13 kills and led all players with her .391 attack efficiency. Seniors Chelsea Albers and Sara McClinton tied for the team lead with 14 kills apiece, but combined for 19 errors as well. Albers tallied her seventh double-double of the year with 13 digs added to her kill count.
Sophomore middle blocker Tayler Soucie pounded out 13 kills and tied with junior outside hitter Tiana Dockery for the team lead with five blocks. Dockery’s 10 kills marked the fifth Jayhawks in double-digits on the afternoon, the first time the Jayhawks posted a performance like that since October 23, 2013 against Iowa State.
Setting them up, freshman setter Ainise Havili recorded her 12th double-double of the year thanks to career-high numbers in both assists (57) and digs (19). The Fort Worth native added four kills and a service ace with a huge crowd of family and friends in the stands to play witness. Behind them, sophomore libero Cassie Wait led the Jayhawks with 23 digs. Freshman defensive specialist Addison Barry tied her career-high with 10 digs.
On the other side of the net, the Horned Frogs totaled 60 kills compared to KU’s 71, but weathered the storm after KU handily out-hit them in the first two sets. TCU not only came out on top in attack percentage (.218-.179), but also tallied 12 blocks as a team for the match after recording only one in the first two sets. Senior middle blocker Mattie Burleson and sophomore opposite Ashley Smith led the offensive with 16 and 15 kills, respectively.
The Jayhawks spread the offense around early as six different players registered a kill on their way to a 10-7 lead. Back-to-back kills from Hall and Albers sparked an already hot offense and Kansas hit the gas. When Albers connected on her fifth kill in just five swings, the Jayhawks had pulled in front 19-13 and forced TCU to use its last timeout of the set. Hall chalked up two more kills to get her team to set point before Dockery finished it off, 25-19.
Hitting their stride, the Jayhawk attackers rolled out to a 7-2 lead to start set two. TCU saw its opposition come out swinging for an .833 hitting efficiency and wasted no time calling its first timeout. Sophomore setter Maggie Anderson stuck an arm out to keep a free ball in the air, which McClinton converted into a kill to further prove the Jayhawks’ temporary handle on the situation. While Dockery and Soucie teamed up for their second block of the match, Kansas’ offense took on the workload. Midway through the frame, KU had an overwhelming 11 kills without a single error and sailed to a 25-18 win.
KU’s overwhelming presence stopped there.
On a mission to defend their home court, the Horned Frogs roared out to an 8-1 lead in set three to make Kansas use its first timeout of the afternoon. The pause was warranted as KU hit .431 through the first two sets, but suddenly dipped below .000 in set three as TCU built its lead, 11-6. Albers worked her way to double-digit kills and landed an ace to chip away at the deficit, but the Frogs hung on to its sizable advantage. Although the home team allowed windows of opportunity, the outcome didn’t change. Freshman outside hitter Madison Rigdon checked in to pick up three kills on three swings, necessary to bring KU’s attack percentage to an even .000, which explained the 25-20 set loss.
Set four started with an uneasy, similar feel as Kansas fell behind, 7-3. Albers put down her second ace of the afternoon and Soucie launched a kill to power five-straight points, putting KU in front. Now in danger of giving up just its third loss at home, the Horned Frogs pulled out all the stops as back-to-back kills from Smith helped them take a 15-12 lead into the media timeout. McClinton came through with two crucial kills to fight off set point three-straight times, but Smith closed the door, sending the match to a fifth set with one more kill, 25-23.
The seniors worked off of each other to kick off set five. Albers dove after a ball to keep it alive, which McClinton used to crush a kill from the other side of the floor. A kill from Dockery and a costly TCU attack error saw KU take a 10-8 lead and later a 12-10 advantage, but KU’s error proved more costly. Tied at 13, 14, 15 and 16, TCU finally found a way to break the tie with a KU attack error and closed the comeback with a block from Smith and Burleson.
- That marks just the fifth time this season that Kansas has been outhit in a match (.218/.179). It’s also the fifth time the Jayhawks have been out-blocked (12.0/8.0), but just the third time in 2014 that both occurred at the same time.
- Kansas is now 0-5 this season in five-set matches, its worst mark in five-setters in Big 12 history.
- With 13 kills against TCU, senior outside hitter Sara McClinton now has 1,164 for her career, putting her within four of Emily Brown (1,168; 2004-07) for eighth on KU’s all-time career kills list. McClinton is one of two players in the Big 12 with 1,000 career kills (Haley Eckerman, Texas).
- Freshman setter Ainise Havili chalked up her 12th double-double of the year with career-highs in assists (57) and digs (19) – the third-most DDs in the Big 12.
- Senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers chalked up her seventh double-double of the year with 14 kills and 13 digs against TCU, the 14th DD of her career.
- Albers is now seven digs away from becoming the 11th Jayhawk all-time to post 800 career kills and 800 career digs.
- Sophomore libero Cassie Wait recorded a team-high 23 digs, the 11th time in her career that she’s posted 20+ digs.
- Junior outside hitter Tiana Dockery tied her season-high with five blocks at TCU.
Kansas will come home to welcome Baylor to the Horejsi Family Athletics Center on Wednesday, Nov. 5. First serve is set for 6:30 p.m., and the match will air on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.
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