LINCOLN, Neb. - Despite a 3-0 sweep by the nation's top-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Kansas volleyball team commanded respect with strong performances in the final two games to make it a close match. After falling 30-16 in the opening contest, Kansas came out with renewed confidence in games two and three as they were edged 30-25 and 30-26 by the Huskers.
Kansas dropped to 10-11 with the loss and 3-8 in the Big 12. Nebraska improved its unblemished record to 18-0 and 11-0 in league play.
Freshman Jenna Kaiser led KU as the only Jayhawk in double-digit kills with 10. Senior Emily Brown followed with nine and Karina Garlington and Flavio Lino added eight a piece. Lino also hit a team-best .500 on 8-for-12 hitting with just two errors, while Garlington led on defense digging up 13 balls. Freshman libero Melissa Manda also reached double-figure digs tallying 11.
Nebraska rattled off four points to open the match in game one before Kaiser put Kansas on the board with a kill on a set from Katie Martincich. KU could not produce the defense it needed to stop the Cornhusker offense as NU continued to hit a match-high .533, including a perfect 7-for-7 attack from NU senior Sarah Pavan, as Kansas fell 30-16.
The Jayhawks didn't make it easy for the Huskers in game two giving a note-worthy performance. With Nebraska up 7-6, KU strung together four unanswered points on a pair of Kaiser kills and two NU attack errors to take a 10-7 lead and force the Cornhuskers into a timeout. KU matched Nebraska's next five points to maintain a 15-11 advantage. A strong Kansas defense refused to give up its lead while kills by Kaiser, Lino and Garlington on the offensive end kept the Jayhawks ahead at 22-19. It wasn't until 23-all that Nebraska finally caught up and tied the score. After a long rally that ended in a Nebraska point, the Cornhuskers took their first lead of the game since going up 7-6. KU came back and tied the score at 24 and 25, but a 5-0 run in the end earned NU the 30-25 victory.
Kansas' 25 points in game two were the most tallied by the Jayhawks against Nebraska since Nov. 12, 2004 when KU was defeated by scores of 30-27, 30-24 and 30-26. Lino and Kaiser were instrumental in game two's effort adding six and five kills, respectively. As a team, Kansas held a 25-15 advantage in digs and matched Nebraska with 19 kills.
Nebraska jumped to a 7-2 lead in the third contest, but Kansas used a 6-2 run to come within one at 9-8. Six points later, a kill by Kaiser pushed the Jayhawks ahead 12-11 and an NU attack error added another Kansas point. KU did not fall behind again until Nebraska took a 20-19 edge on a KU attack error and pulled ahead with a 4-0 run. Lino tallied a pair of kills and Kaiser added a point to bring the score within one at 26-25. However, Nebraska once again made a strong push at the end using a 5-1 rally to win 30-26.
Kansas will wrap up its short road stint Wednesday night in College Station, Texas. The Jayhawks go up against Texas A&M at 6:30 p.m.