Kansas Closes Door on Iowa State, 3-1
LAWRENCE, Kan. – With Iowa State closing in and a fifth set looming, senior Sara McClinton and sophomore Tayler Soucie powered Kansas on an electrifying 8-0 run to elevate the Jayhawks over the Cyclones in four sets Wednesday night in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, 25-17, 25-23, 20-25, 25-15.
Iowa State (15-10, 7-7) entered Wednesday night’s match coming off of back-to-back five-set matches, and both of them wins with one against No. 24 Oklahoma on the road, and the other over TCU at home. However, Kansas (20-7, 8-5) refused to be the next in line.
“They are probably a little more comfortable in five-set matches than the Jayhawks are,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “We obviously didn’t want that. Maggie (Anderson) went back there and dominated with her serve and took them out of what they wanted to do. Then we made some plays and finished it off in good fashion.”
Sophomore Tayler Soucie led the Jayhawks with
her .500 attack percentage and 13 kills.The Jayhawks rattled off a .263 attack percentage in the final frame to propel them to their eighth conference win on the season and enter a three-way tie with Oklahoma and Kansas State for second in the conference. After starting conference play at 0-3, KU has gone an impressive 8-2 in its next 10 league contests. The victory also put the Jayhawks at 20 wins for the third-straight year – a mark that Kansas has not seen since the 1980-81-82 seasons.
Having just picked up Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors, McClinton continued her strong offensive attack by cranking out a team-high 15 kills and connecting on her first career service ace. Soucie racked up 13 kills on a match-high .500 hitting percentage to go with five blocks on the night. Freshman middle blocker Kelsie Payne returned to the starting lineup and tied her career-high 13 kills, while rejecting four Cyclone attacks. Junior outside hitter Tiana Dockery just missed double-digits with nine kills.
Eclipsing the 50 assists mark for her seventh time, freshman Ainise Havili netted her 13th double-double on the season with 51 assists paired with 12 digs. Sophomore Cassie Wait led KU with 22 digs on the evening, and senior Chelsea Albers backed her up with 19 digs and seven kills. By night’s end, Kansas out-dug the Big 12’s dig leaders (68/64).
For Iowa State, sophomore outside hitter Ciara Capezio led the floor with 16 kills but was the only Cylone in double-figures. Freshman setter Monique Harris tallied a double-double with 23 assists and 12 digs. The Big 12 digs leader, junior Caitlin Nolan, came up with a match-high 25 digs.
Five different Jayhawks contributed to the early scoring. Albers, Dockery, Soucie and McClinton all racked up a kill and a service ace from Wait ace propelled KU to a quick 8-3 advantage, forcing an Iowa State timeout. Following the break, Iowa State’s offense kicked into high gear, scoring seven of the next 10 points to cut the gap to one, 11-10. Moments later, Albers rose up and hammered down a kill. Soucie followed suit with a solo block, sparking a 3-0 Kansas run to increase the lead to four. Strong play from McClinton ignited another 3-0 run, pushing the Jayhawks up 18-12. She finished the first set with seven kills on 10 swings as the Jayhawks took the opening frame 25-17.
With momentum on the Jayhawks side, they began the second set by scoring the first five points and forcing Iowa State to burn a timeout. A kill from Dockery put the Jayhawks up 7-1, but a series of Cyclone kills cut that lead down to two, 7-5. Iowa State then used a 3-0 run to capture its first lead in the match, 11-10. For most of the middle portion on the set, both sides swapped points, no team claiming a lead larger than two. Down 19-17, Iowa State registered three consecutive points to grab a 20-19 advantage, but the Jayhawks countered with a kill from Soucie, and a McClinton/Payne combo block. After Iowa State called its last timeout, the upperclassmen duo of Dockery and Albers slammed the door on the Cyclones, driving KU to a 25-23 win and 2-0 advantage at intermission.
Iowa State used a 4-0 run to seize the lead early in the third set, 6-4. Another three-consecutive points increased the Cyclone lead, 12-9, forcing a KU timeout. Out of stoppage, the Jayhawks tied the score at 12-12 but couldn’t capture full momentum. Iowa State rallied off several points to claim a comfortable lead, 20-16. A strong Cyclone offensive attack prevented the potential Jayhawk sweep as Iowa State took set three, 25-20.
A back-and-forth attack highlighted the start of fourth-set action until Kansas riled off three-straight points to build a 10-7 lead. Following an Iowa State timeout, the Jayhawks raced to a five-point advantage, 14-9, but a couple attack errors saw their lead dwindle down to two, 17-15. Refusing to let the Cyclones force a fifth set, the combination of McClinton and Soucie produced a high-energy closing attack. The Jayhawk duo cranked out a relentless 8-0 run to bring the Horejsi crowd to its feet and cap the night off with a 25-15 win.
- Head coach Ray Bechard recorded career win No. 1,009 on Wednesday. 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 293 wins at Kansas are the second-most among active Big 12 coaches.
- The Jayhawks collected their 20th win of the year on Wednesday. Combined with 2012 (26-7) and 2013 (25-8), KU now has three-straight 20 win seasons for the first time since 1980 (22-16-1), 1981 (26-31-1) and 1982 (22-29).
- With her 15 kills against Iowa State, senior outside hitter Sara McClinton is inching toward sixth place on KU’s all-time career kills list. McClinton now has 1,223 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).
- The victory marked KU’s second-straight top-20 RPI win of the season (No. 16 Kansas State; No. 15 Iowa State).
- Sophomore libero Cassie Wait restarted her double-digit digs streak with 22 against ISU, the 12th time in her career that she’s posted 20+ digs.
- Freshman setter Ainise Havili chalked up her 13th double-double of the year in assists (51) and digs (12) – the third-most DDs in the Big 12 and the most by a freshman.
- KU’s six service aces were one short of a season-high seven aces which was set in the season-opener against Utah Valley (8/29) and against American (9/13). Including Wednesday, the Jayhawks have served six aces six times in 2014.
Kansas will travel to No. 3 Texas to take on the defending Big 12 Champion Longhorns Saturday, Nov. 22. First serve is scheduled for 3 p.m., and will be televised on the Longhorn Network.
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