No. 10 Kansas Earns Road Win at Oklahoma, Sweeps Season Series
NORMAN, Okla. – Kelsie Payne provided the offensive punch and Cassie Wait was the defensive backbone for No. 10 Kansas during a 3-1 (25-21, 20-25, 25-21, 25-19) road victory over Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon, which swept the regular season series against the Sooners for the first time since 2012.
The Jayhawks (22-1, 10-1 Big 12) responded from a rare second-set loss – just the 10th loss in 76 sets this season – by recording a combined .417 hitting percentage during the third and fourth sets to remain in a tie for first-place in the Big 12 standings with No. 5 Texas.
Payne’s match-high 22 kills on a .486 hitting percentage marked the third career 20-kill match for the sophomore right-side hitter and the second in three matches. Wait followed-up her 23-dig performance against Oklahoma on Oct. 21, with a 24-dig outing on Saturday to move into sixth-place on KU’s career digs list. The junior libero has six matches with 20 digs or more this season.
Sophomore setter Ainise Havili maintained her all-American-type play this season with 57 assists and seven digs while setting KU to a .343 hitting percentage as a team, including four players with double-figure kills.
With the win over Oklahoma (8-14, 2-8), Kansas has now swept the regular season series against two of the three teams picked ahead of them in the Big 12 preseason poll (Iowa State and OU).
“That’s a good, good win for us as we near the end of Big 12 play,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “Oklahoma is a lot better than their record indicates. It’s a tough place to play – we have won here in a couple years. We needed to respond today to give ourselves a chance to have a good week next week, and we certainly did that.
Kansas jumped out to a 19-13 lead in the first set and withstood a late OU rally to win the opening stanza, 25-21. The Jayhawk offense out-gained OU 17-9 in kills, including seven from Payne, in the first set.
Senior transfer Anna Church notched her most productive stat line since becoming a Jayhawk, finishing with 15 digs and two aces. Her first ace of the match came in the first set to give Kansas some cushion to its lead early in the set.
Senior outside hitter Tiana Dockery missed on two early attacks in the first set, but found redemption with a kill that gave KU set point, 24-21, and a block with Janae Hall to clinch the set for KU, 25-21. Despite the slow start, Dockery finished the match with her second double-double of the season with 15 kills and 13 digs.
Through 14 ties and nine lead changes Kansas was edged in a close second set, 25-20. KU dipped to a .200 hitting percentage during the second set, while OU hit .350 with 17 kills.
The third set started with two KU blocks and two OU attacking errors, which gave KU a 4-0 lead. The Jayhawks went on to take the third set, 25-21, without surrendering its early lead.
Kansas fell behind early in the fourth set, 5-1, only to respond in kind with a 5-1 run of its own for a 6-6 tie. Kansas and Oklahoma battled to a 14-14 tie, before Kansas pulled away on an OU service error and another ace from Church. Five of KU’s last seven points of the match were a result of a kill from Dockery. Payne registered her 22nd kill of the day on match point to clinch the 22nd win of the season for the Jayhawks.
No. 10 Kansas plays host to No. 5 Texas (20-2, 10-1) on Wednesday (6:30 p.m.) in Lawrence for sole possession of first-place in the Big 12 standings.
• KANSAS-OKLAHOMA SERIES: With Saturday’s win, the Jayhawks are on a three-match winning streak against the Sooners. The win marks KU’s first win in Norman since 2012. It is also the first regular season series sweep over OU since 2012 and the 10th in series history. Oklahoma leads the all-time series with Kansas, 47-35.
• BIG 12 TITLE RACE: No. 10 Kansas and No. 5 Texas are now tied atop the Big 12 Conference standings with 10-1 records during league play, respectively. The Jayhawks and Longhorns meet on Wednesday in Lawrence for sole possession of first-place in the Big 12 standings.
• SET DOMINANCE: KU’s set record improves to 66-10 (.868), including a 7-0 record in fourth sets. Through 23 matches this season, the Jayhawks have yet to play a five-set match.
• PAYNE TRAIN: Sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne recorded 20+ kills for the third time of her career and the second time in three matches. Payne finished with 22 kills on a .486 hitting percentage.
• WAIT MOVING UP: Junior libero Cassie Wait led KU with 24 digs. The Gardner, Kansas, native now has 1,154 career digs to move into sixth-place on KU’s career digs list, passing Jodi Oelschlager (1986-89; 1,153).
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