Kansas Bounces Back to Top Texas Tech, 3-1
LUBBOCK, Texas – Tiana Dockery’s first 20-kill match of the year was the key factor in wiping away a first-set loss and turning it into a victory as Kansas downed Texas Tech Saturday afternoon inside the United Supermarkets Arena, 22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-21.
For the first time this season, Kansas (18-7, 6-5) moved above .500 in Big 12 Conference play, turning an 0-3 league start into a winning record with its road win at Texas Tech (15-9, 3-9). With five regular season matches still to play, the Jayhawks are closing in on the 20-win mark for the third-consecutive year – which would be a first for the program since the 1980-1981-1982 seasons. Not one to look ahead, however, head coach Ray Bechard and his team were dialed in on the comeback at hand in Lubbock.
“Today was obviously extremely important,” Bechard said. “We’ve been fighting to get over that .500 mark and this was a very good team. We also have five very good teams left, so now we try to get better each and every day and look forward to our travels to Manhattan.”
All 20 of Dockery’s kill were instrumental in the win, breaking her previous season-best of 19 against Baylor on Oct. 10. She was joined by fellow veteran outside, senior Sara McClinton, who cranked out 16 kills as both hit well above .300 in the duo’s impressive afternoon. Dockery also logged her third double-double of the year with 13 digs, while she and McClinton combined for seven total blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Tayler Soucie trailed them with six kills, but was dominant on the blocking side with a match-high eight rejections to help KU out-block its opponent for the 25th time this season (12.0/8.0).
Freshman setter Ainise Havili missed a double-double by a single dig, saving nine balls to accompany her 46 assists. Behind the Jayhawk blockers, sophomore libero Cassie Wait captained the defense with a team-best 18 digs. Senior Chelsea Albers and freshman Madison Rigdon provided additional backup with 11 and seven digs, respectively, while both chalked up five kills apiece.
The Red Raiders were led by seniors Breeann David’s 17 kills and Rachel Brummitt’s 16 digs. They were held to a .119 attack percentage and no player recorded more than three blocks.
Back-and-forth scoring was the story for most of the opening set. After Tech opened a minimal 12-10 edge, the Jayhawks hung on three-straight points to ensure neither team gained much advantage. Nearing the midway point, Soucie made her mark with a kill and a solo block to force a TTU timeout. Playing into the trend, however, the Red Raiders came out of the pause with a 4-0 scoring run to again put themselves in front. They kept that rolling by building either team’s largest lead of the set, 23-18, burying the Jayhawks in a significant hole. The visitors fought off set point three times thanks to kills from Albers and Soucie, but ultimately lost their first set to Texas Tech since Nov. 12, 2011 when TTU put it away, 25-22.
One of two teams in the Big 12 averaging more than 16 digs per set, Texas Tech certainly showed its strength on the defensive end. What looked like swings worthy of points from the Jayhawks were constantly saved by a diving Red Raider body. While Kansas did the same on its own side – led by diving pros Wait and Havili – TTU still worked its way to a 9-7 lead in set two. While Tech displayed its skill from the back row, Kansas shined at the net. Consecutive blocks from Soucie, who assisted Havili and Dockery on both rejections, powered Kansas to a 16-12 lead, its largest to that point. Now hitting their stride, McClinton’s six kills in the set helped the Jayhawks create space and tie the match at a set apiece, 25-18.
Dockery’s aggressive swings set the tone to open set three as she knocked down KU’s first three kills. Soucie showed the same hostility at the net, slamming her second solo block of the day – her seventh of the match – to tie the score at 5-5. Although Tech answered with a 5-1 scoring streak, KU immediately erased it with five-straight points of their own to climb in front, 11-10. Errors and silly mistakes were annoyances on both sides as KU tied the match after a Tech set fell to the ground and Tech tied it back with a Jayhawk serve that landed in the middle of the net. Nonetheless, the teams entered the home stretch knotted at 18-18.
Suddenly, the errors fell by the wayside. Freshman outside hitter Madison Rigdon checked in completely cold and notched three kills on three swings. Freshman defensive specialist Addison Barry and Wait landed clutch aces to power Kansas to a 7-1 run to end the third frame, 25-19.
With momentum almost assuredly on their side, the Jayhawks were in position to take control in the opening moments of set four. Texas Tech disagreed and fired out to a 7-3 lead using a diving dig that hit the floor inbounds for an unlikely kill. Kansas, too, ignored its opponent and rattled off four points in a row to tie the score. Still going, sophomore middle blocker Janae Hall pounded a ball in the middle of the court and Dockery blocked a ball so hard it spun off the hands of the Red Raiders’ front line. What once was a 7-3 KU deficit sharply turned to a 13-10 Jayhawk lead.
Fighting to keep the match alive, the Red Raiders quickly righted the run to pull within one, 20-19, but Kansas was too far gone. Kills from Hall and Rigdon sandwiched back-to-back scores from Dockery to cement the win, 25-21.
- Head coach Ray Bechard recorded career win No. 1,007 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 291 wins at Kansas are the second-most among active Big 12 coaches.
- Prior to Saturday, Kansas had swept Texas Tech in each of their last five meetings. The last time KU lost a set to the Red Raiders also occurred in Lubbock and also went on to result in a four-set win.
- With 16 kills at Texas Tech, senior outside hitter Sara McClinton is inching toward sixth place on KU’s all-time career kills list. McClinton now has 1,190 for her career, making her way closer to Amanda Reves’ 1,264 kills (1996-99). McClinton is one of two players in the Big 12 with 1,000 career kills (Haley Eckerman, Texas).
- Junior outside hitter Tiana Dockery missed her career-high by a single kill (21 kills vs. Wisconsin, 9/13/13), and tallied double-digit kills for the third-straight match.
- Freshman defensive specialist Addison Barry tied her career-high with two aces.
- Senior outside hitter Sara McClinton led the team with her .353 attack percentage, her best hitting efficiency of the Big 12 season.
Kansas will make the short drive to Manhattan, Kansas for the Sunflower Showdown against rival Kansas State on Wednesday, Nov. 12. First serve from Ahearn Fieldhouse is set for 7 p.m.
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