LAWRENCE, Kan. - In its first Big 12 Conference victory since Oct. 14, 2006, the University of Kansas volleyball team came away with a huge 3-2 victory (30-23, 26-30, 20-30, 30-28, 15-7) over rival Missouri Wednesday night in Columbia, Mo. The win also marks KU's first conference road victory since Nov. 9, 2005 and snaps a 12-match conference losing streak.
Kansas improved to 8-5 and 1-2 in the Big 12. Missouri fell to 7-4 and has yet to win a conference match this season with a 0-2 Big 12 record.
"Our team showed a lot of courage tonight," said head Kansas coach Ray Bechard. "We really executed well. I'm proud of the team. This was a big win on the road for us against a quality team."
Three Jayhawks recorded double-digit kills including sophomore Brittany Williams (15), senior Emily Brown (12) and freshman Jenna Kaiser (12). Brown also added 29 assists for a double-double. Senior Caitlin Mahoney recorded a team-high .421 hitting percentage.
Defensively, freshman Melissa Manda dug up a game-high 20 balls, while sophomore Katie Martincich pitched in her sixth double-double of the season with 13 digs and 22 assists.
Kansas showed great poise and control in game one's 30-23 victory. The Jayhawks held the lead the entire game and never allowed Missouri more than three-points at a time. KU took advantage of three MU errors early on to help string together five consecutive points and go up 9-3. Kansas used another MU error to take its biggest lead of the game at 20-8. Towards the end of the game, Mahoney and Karina Garlington combined to block a Tiger attack giving the Jayhawks a 28-22 edge. Mahoney then teamed up with Brown to give KU another point before Martincich tapped a pass over the net for game point.
Offensively, Kansas committed just three hitting errors swinging with a .344 clip. Missouri hit just .071 tallying 12 errors during game one.
Game two, though it didn't end in the Jayhawks' favor, was equally as exciting. Kansas held onto the lead for the first part of the game until MU used a five-point run to tie the game at 17-17 and eventually pull ahead 19-17 in their first lead of the match since winning the first serve in the second game. KU was unable to catch up for the remainder of the game but made a strong push towards game point. The Jayhawks fell behind 27-20 at one point, its biggest deficit of the game, but came within three at 28-25 thanks to back-to-back service aces from sophomore Melissa Grieb. Williams notched a kill at 29-26 to further delay MU's 30-26 win.
Heading into the break, KU boasted three players hitting over .400 led by Williams (seven kills) and Mahoney (seven kills) with .455 and Noyes hitting .417 on five kills.
The third game remained neck-and-neck through the first 35 points. MU eventually improved its lead to 20-15 and began to pull away out of the Jayhawks' reach. KU answered with three points near the end of the game to come within eight at 27-19, but the push came too late as they fell 30-20.
Missouri opened game four with a 6-1 run, but KU used a five point rally to even the score at seven all. From there, the teams traded points going back-and-forth with the lead. The turning point for KU came when the team, down 24-22, used a 5-0 run and jump ahead 27-24. Kansas later used an MU service error and attack error to tally two of its last three points and notch the 30-28 victory to force a game five.
KU didn't give Missouri a chance in the final game of the night as the Jayhawks strung together eight unanswered points with Sarah Wittenauer behind the service line to take a commanding 14-5 lead. Kaiser recorded the match-winning kill to end the contest 15-7 as the Jayhawks recorded a match-best .467 hitting percentage.
Kansas returns home for a 1 p.m. match Saturday against Texas Tech.