No. 10 Kansas Loses First Home Match to No. 5 Texas
LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 10 Kansas volleyball suffered its first home loss of the season to No. 5 Texas, 3-2 (20-25, 25-20, 30-28, 22-25, 15-9) on Wednesday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
In the Jayhawks’ first five-set match of the season, sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne reached 20 kills for the third time in the last four matches and sophomore setter Ainise Havili set a career high in assists. Payne finished with 23 kills on a .288 hitting percentage. Havili followed-up her 57-assist performance at Oklahoma last Saturday with 67 assists on Wednesday night, adding 13 digs for her ninth double-double of the season.
Despite the loss, Kansas (22-2, 10-2 Big 12) remained highly efficient on offense, recording a .307 team hitting percentage against a Texas team that entered Wednesday holding opponents to a Big 12-leading .163 clip. The Jayhawks also out-gained Texas in kills, 77 to 64, but were undone by 17 service errors.
Senior outside hitter Tiana Dockery shook off the cobwebs of a career -.007 hitting percentage against the Longhorns to post her third double-double of the season on Wednesday with 18 kills on a .441 hitting percentage and 13 digs. Junior middle blocker Tayler Soucie finished with 16 kills on 23 swings for a .652 hitting percentage – not recording an attacking error until midway through the fifth set.
Texas (21-2, 11-1) was led by a pair of 21-kill efforts from Amy Neal and Paulina Prieto Cerame. Wednesday marked UT’s 24th consecutive win over Kansas, dating back to 2003.
No. 10 Kansas plays its second-to-last home match of the season against TCU on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Kansas head coach Ray Bechard
“We needed to feel that pressure but certainly we needed to play better in the fifth set. Texas played very clean and we didn’t. It goes very quick like that. We just ran out of time. A key was not finishing the third set when we had some opportunities. We missed 17 serves at really key times. We knew we would have a risk-reward this year as we went through our serves and our service errors. I think if you are a casual volleyball fan today, it was a great way to compete at a high level, play hard and be athletic and be great teammates. It is unfortunate the Jayhawks let down at some key times. We have to give Texas credit too, because there’s a reason why they’ve been as good as they’ve been for as long as they’ve been. Fifth set was important to us but it would mean a lot more, obviously, if we had gotten the win.”
We didn’t serve as well as we needed to. They were transitioning better than we were so the team sensed that we could control our side of the net so we did that a lot but so did Texas. It was high side-out volleyball, they sided out at 70 percent and we sided out at 67 percent. Very seldom do you lose a match when you side-out 67 percent. What I mean by that is that, 67 percent of the time we won the point and that’s a high level but they did it at 70 percent so they were just a little better in that phase than we were.
On playing the first five-set match of the season:
We knew at some point in time we needed to experience one of those. We would have rather won in four today but it was good. We got out there and you forget what happens at the end. We had some opportunities early in the fifth set to take charge and we didn’t do that. I’m proud of the girls, though. They played with a lot of will today and a lot of pride and went toe-to-toe with a high level team. We just have to figure out how to make a few plays to get a different result.
On Tayler Soucie:
Soucie for the night had 16 kills on one error and she happened to get that error in the fifth set. She was just phenomenal. Hit .652 and they knew it was coming, too. I thought she was outstanding.
On the Big 12 standings:
We’re one game down now which is extremely disappointing. One game up with four to play would have been fun but now we have to take care of our business and hope we get a little help. That’s not a position we want to be in but that’s where we’re at.
On the crowd:
I think they enjoy a team that works hard and has fun, and the Jayhawks do that. Certainly there was some great emotion in the gym tonight and our team feeds off of that. This was a tough ticket. Typically volleyball is not a tough ticket but that’s the way we want to keep things going so hopefully we can continue.