Defense powers No. 9 Volleyball past Kansas State, 3-1
MANHATTAN, Kan. –The Jayhawks teamed up for 110 digs, including 36 from junior libero Cassie Wait, as No. 9 Kansas volleyball defeated Kansas State in four sets on Wednesday night at Ahearn Field House, 3-1 (25-22, 25-27, 25-15, 25-16). KU’s 110 team digs is a program record during the rally-scoring era (since 2001), and Wait’s career-high 36 digs are the second-most from any Jayhawk in a four-set match.
“That amount of digs in a four-set match is pretty phenomenal,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “If you can get 15 or 16 digs per set on any given night, you’re in pretty good shape. To put up 27.5 digs per set tonight says a lot about our defensive effort.”
Kansas (25-2, 13-2 Big 12) reaches 25 wins for the third time in the last four years and keeps hope alive for a share of the Big 12 regular-season title with Texas. Oklahoma would have to upset the Longhorns on Friday and Kansas would have win its regular-season finale against Texas Tech on Saturday to secure the program’s first-ever conference title.
The Jayhawks also sweep the Sunflower Showdown season series, having won seven of the last eight meetings against the Wildcats, including four straight in Manhattan.
Senior outside hitter Tiana Dockery and sophomore setter Ainise Havili also recorded career high marks in digs as the Jayhawks held K-State to a .146 hitting percentage. Dockery, who has not lost a match in Manhattan in her four-year career, posted 21 digs with 12 kills for her fourth double-double of the season.
Havili pitched in her 11th double-double of the season, and was knocking on the door of a triple double, with 47 assists, 20 digs, and seven kills on .583 hitting percentage. Junior middle blocker Tayler Soucie led the front line defense with seven blocks for the second consecutive match, adding 11 kills.
Sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne reached 20 kills for the fifth time in the last five matches to lead KU’s offensive with 23 kills.
Kansas State (17-10, 9-6) was led by libero Kersten Kober’s 32 digs and a pair of double-doubles from Brooke Sassin (13 kills, 16 digs) and Bryna Vogel (12, 17).
Kansas hosts Senior Day against Texas Tech on Saturday at 12 p.m., to conclude the most successful regular-season in Kansas volleyball history.