Kansas Makes Good Against Mountaineers, 3-0
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A stifling nine-block performance by the Kansas frontline propelled the Jayhawks to a straight-set victory over West Virginia Wednesday night inside the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, 25-19, 25-23, 25-15.
Sophomore middle blocker Tayler Soucie tied for the match-high with six rejections, while senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers sent back five Mountaineer attacks on a night that Kansas (21-8, 9-6) held the Big 12 Conference’s kill leader Jordan Anderson of West Virginia (15-14, 5-10) to just 10 kills. Four of which came in the second set, when the Mountaineers used a 10-0 run in an attempt to fight off the sweep.
“We had a little bit of a hiccup there in the second frame,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “But what was really good about that was we gave them momentum and then took it back to get a 3-0 win against a good team.”
Junior outside hitter Tiana Dockery put up
double-digit kills for the 10th time this season.With the win against WVU and Oklahoma’s win against Kansas State on Wednesday, Kansas stays on pace to finish in a tie for second place in the conference standings.
Offensively, senior outside hitter Sara McClinton blasted a career-high three aces and led a trio of Jayhawks that registered 10 or more kills and put together eight momentous runs of three-straight points that helped disband the Mountaineers. The middles led the charge with a combined 19 kills and one error as Soucie rattled off nine kills without an error and freshman Kelsie Payne offset her one mishap with 10 kills.
Rounding out the leaderboard, junior outside hitter Tiana Dockery tossed in 10 kills of her own. The multi-talented Albers stuffed the stat sheet with seven kills, seven digs and five blocks. Freshman setter Ainise Havili passed out 37 assists, guiding her offense to a solid .358 attack percentage. Defensively, sophomore libero Cassie Wait recorded at match-high 14 digs. Both Wait and Havili passed major milestones on Wednesday. Wait made herself one of three Jayhawks in program history to surpass 500 digs in a single season, while Havili broke the KU freshman assist record.
Anderson was the lone Mountaineer to go over 10 kills on the evening, only the fourth time this season that the Big 12 kills leader was held to 10 or fewer in a match. As a team, West Virginia managed to muster an attack percentage of .194.
Both the Jayhawks and Mountaineers reeled off two separate runs of three-straight points through the first 15 serves of the match. Heading into the first TV timeout, Kansas clung to a 15-13 advantage thanks to a balanced distribution of the ball. In all, four Jayhawks found themselves with three or more kills next to their names (Payne 4, Soucie 4, Albers 3, Dockery 3) as Kansas claimed to a 22-17 late in the period. McClinton closed out the first session, scoring two of the Jayhawks’ next three points by way of a kill and a service ace to take an early match advantage, 25-19.
After recording seven more kills, but being out blocked 3.0-1.0 in the first set, Kansas let its offense take a back seat in the second period. After the first 15 points of the set, KU had turned away four Mountaineer attacks at the net – three of which were credited to Soucie. The blocking spark pushed KU out to a sizable 15-5 advantage. Led by Soucie, who also tossed in three kills in the span, KU kept rolling to extend the gap to 20-8. Getting completely outplayed, West Virginia had seen enough. The Mountaineers roared back with a 10-0, slicing their deficit to a mere two points, 20-18. The Jayhawks were forced into a timeout, but still couldn’t solve the errors that were riddling the offense.
West Virginia went on to claim 14 of the next 15 points tying the score at 21-21, leading to another Kansas timeout. After letting West Virginia take its first lead of the set 23-22, Kansas used the trio of points system that it benefited so much from in the first set. First, Soucie tied the score at 23 with a kill, then KU fittingly regained the lead 24-23 on a block from Payne and McClinton. Payne ended the second set drama – and WVU’s hope for a match-defining comeback – with a kill to take a 25-23 victory and 2-0 lead in the match.
The two teams embarked in a back-and-forth affair to begin the third set. The score read 9-9 until a span of four-straight points gave KU a 13-9 lead, causing a West Virginia timeout. Kansas responded out of the stoppage with another 4-0 run thanks to two blocks by Albers and Soucie and an ace by Wait that proved to be devastating to West Virginia’s chances in the match – 20-11. McClinton sparked the victory with five total points coming in the third set which led Kansas to a 25-15 victory and a 3-0 match sweep of West Virginia.
- Head coach Ray Bechard recorded career win No. 1,010 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 294 wins at Kansas are the second-most among active Big 12 coaches.
- That marked KU’s 10th sweep of the season. Kansas has won more sets than any other school in the Big 12 (74).
- With her 10 kills against West Virginia, senior outside hitter Sara McClinton is moving toward sixth place on KU’s all-time career kills list. McClinton now has 1,238 for her career, making her way closer to Amanda Reves’ 1,264 kills (1996-99). McClinton and Haley Eckerman of Texas lead the active Big 12 players in career kills.
- Sophomore libero Cassie Wait led all players with 14 kills, pushing her season total to 512. She joins Brianne Riley (twice) and Catalina Suarez as the only Jayhawks to pass 500 digs in a single-season.
- Senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers chalked up seven kills, putting her career total at 899 going into Senior Day. Coupled with her 865 digs, if Albers collects just one kill on Saturday she will be the seventh Jayhawk in history to post 900-career kills and 800-career digs.
- Freshman setter Ainise Havili collected 37 assists against West Virginia, giving her 1,225 assists for the year to break the KU freshman assists record previously held by Katie Martincich (1,193; 2006).
- 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 seven times in 2014.
- Through her first three seasons, senior outside hitter Sara McClinton had served just five times. On Wednesday, she jump served her way to a career-best three aces.
Kansas will host Oklahoma on Senior Day, Saturday Nov. 29 inside the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. Seniors Chelsea Albers and Sara McClinton will be honored before and after the match. First serve is set for noon.
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