No. 24 Kansas Stays in Second With Sweep Over West Virginia
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Reigning Big 12 Rookie of the week, middle blocker Tayler Soucie picked up where she left off with 10 kills and four blocks as the 24th-ranked Kansas volleyball team swept West Virginia, 25-15, 25-18, 25-19, Wednesday evening inside the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
Soucie tied for the team high kill total, while her career-high .600 attack percentage led the floor on a night Kansas (19-5, 9-2) used defining runs in each set to finish off a 3-0 sweep against West Virginia (17-9, 3-7).
“That freshman has been something,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “A lot of those kills have been in crunch time, too. She doesn’t know the score, she doesn’t know the opponent, she doesn’t know if its first point or last point – she just plays hard. You can always hear her voice and know she wants the ball.”
With the win, Kansas moved to 9-2 in the Big 12 standings. Iowa State did not play on Wednesday, giving the Jayhawks the half-game lead in the conference race.
Junior outside hitter Chelsea Albers became the first Jayhawk since 2011 to have a 200-kill/200-dig season after posting her 200th dig in the first set. Albers filled the stat sheet with 10 kills on a .450 hitting percentage, two assists, five digs and two blocks over three sets. Junior outside hitter Sara McClinton came up with nine kills, while redshirt seniors Catherine Carmichael and Caroline Jarmoc had eight and seven, respectively.
Senior setter Erin McNorton gave accurate passes on the night on her way to 39 assists, once again leading the Jayhawks to an explosive and efficient night. Kansas hit .396 for the match, cranking out 46 kills and a mere six errors. Taking command early, KU’s 17 kills and zero errors equated to a .586 percentage in the opening frame. In a true testament to McNorton and her offense, the red-hot first set didn’t even crack the Jayhawks’ top-three for the season (.667 second set vs. TCU; .593 second set vs. North Dakota; .591 fourth set vs. Arkansas).
On the defensive-side, senior libero Brianne Riley led the Jayhawks with 14 digs – her 50th-consecutive match with double-digit digs. She also led the Jayhawks with two aces.
The Kansas defense never allowed West Virginia to hit over .240 in any of the three sets as it held the Mountaineers to a .154 hitting percentage overall. The bright spots for West Virginia came on freshman outside hitter Jordan Anderson’s 18 kills to lead all players. The high volume of kills didn’t translate into a high attack percentage as she only hit .191 on the night. Sophomore outside hitter Hannah Sackett also had had double-digits in the kill column with 13, while leading the Mountaineers in the hitting percentage category (.385).
The teams began the match in a back-and-forth battle, and with Kansas leading 6-4, the Jayhawks went on a 3-0 spurt kicked off by a kill from McClinton, then a block from McClinton and Soucie, followed up by a service ace from Jarmoc. The Mountaineers responded to the KU run by scoring the next two points, but the Jayhawks were able to extend their lead to five, 11-6 after a kill from Soucie, then a block from Soucie and Albers leading to a West Virginia timeout.
Later in the set, after West Virginia trimmed the Jayhawk lead down to four, but Kansas answered with another 3-0 run highlighted by two McClinton kills forcing, another West Virginia timeout this time trailing 18-11. Kansas picked up where it left off before the timeout, extending their run to five-straight points to go along with a nine-point advantage in the set, 20-11. KU put a quick end to the first set, capped off by a kill apiece from Soucie and Albers to go into the second set up 1-0.
Early on, the second set nearly mirrored the first one. Both teams traded points early with the score tied 6-6, until another mid-set run for the Jayhawks, this one spanning six points broken up into increments of 4-0 and 2-0, due to a Mountaineer timeout. The 6-0 run was made up of three Albers kills, two attack errors from the Mountaineers and an ace from senior defensive specialist Jaime Mathieu. The Jayhawks weren’t finished putting strings of points together. With the score at 12-7, KU went on a 4-0 run this time on kills from Carmichael and Jarmoc, then two more errors by West Virginia.
After Kansas extended its lead to 11, 18-9, it looked like the Jayhawks were going` to run away with the set until the Mountaineers went on a 4-0 run of their own to make things interesting, 19-12. After trading points again, the score still looked comfortable for the Jayhawks with an eight point lead, 22-14. Then another 4-0 run by the Mountaineers cut the Jayhawk lead in half, 22-18. Not wanting the large lead to slip away, Bechard called a timeout to regroup. As it had done throughout the second set, Kansas answered the West Virginia run with a 3-0 of its own on a kill from Soucie, a block from sophomore Tiana Dockery and ended with an error by the Mountaineers to conclude the second set, 25-18.
With Kansas leading 2-0, the trend of trading points in the beginning of the sets carried over into the third period. After the score was tied 5-5, it looked like West Virginia was going to take control and build up a lead after going on a 3-0 run to lead 8-5. Kansas didn’t falter, answering with a 3-0 run of its own on a kill from Soucie, followed by a block from the duo of Soucie and Albers. The run concluded on an error by the Mountaineers as they also saw their small lead turn back into a tie, 8-8.
Unlike the first two sets, neither team went on a set-defining run to take control, instead the points went back-and-forth between the teams until KU was able to rattle off four points in a row after kills from Albers, Jarmoc and Carmichael forced West Virginia into a timeout – hoping to avoid another set ending run by the Jayhawks. Carmichael and Jarmoc blocked a Mountaineer attack out of the timeout to jump out to a three point lead, 14-11. The turning point came later than it had in the previous two sets, but it happened the same way as the Jayhawks put the Mountaineers away once again with a run. As they clung to a 21-19 lead, Albers knocked down a kill, followed by Riley’s second ace of the night and Jarmoc notched a kill. Albers ended the match with a kill to conclude the 4-0 run, putting an end to the night winning the third set 25-19, and claiming a three-set sweep of West Virginia.
– Senior libero Brianne Riley‘s 14 digs moved her closer to sixth all-time on the Big 12 Conference’s career digs list (1,911), now only 86 digs of former Missouri standout Tatum Ailes (1,997; 2004-07).
– Riley now has double-digit digs in 50-consecutive matches.
– Redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc‘s 1,238 kills rank sixth all-time for career kills at Kansas. That number is second-most among current Big 12 players. She trails fellow senior Kaitlynn Pelger from Kansas State (1,428).
– With a block assist against TCU, Jarmoc passed longtime teammate and mentor Tayler Tolefree (427) for the top spot on the Kansas career block assists list (427).
– The Jayhawks’ all-time single-season kills leader, Allison Mayfield, was the last KU player to post a 200 kill/200 dig season (2011) until Chelsea Albers did so on Wednesday.
Kansas will hit the road to take on the defending National Champion Texas Longhorns on their home court. First serve on Saturday, Nov. 9, is set for 2 p.m.
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