WACO, Texas – Fittingly, it was junior outside hitter Sara McClinton that drilled one of the final kills for Kansas, wrapping up her flawless performance that powered her team to a four-set win at Baylor inside the Ferrell Center Saturday afternoon, 25-16, 23-25, 25-22, 25-17.
In one of the most back-and-forth all-time series in the Big 12, Kansas (13-3, 3-0) and Baylor (8-11, 0-3) have split their season series in eight of the last nine years. While KU’s win at Baylor marks the team’s first win in Waco since 2010 – it also marked the team’s ninth-straight win overall. Kansas’ second nine-match winning spree in as many years as KU’s current ties the fourth-longest in program history.
“It is exciting and two road wins on the week is pretty gratifying,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “We had a little slippage in two set late, but other than that we blocked well and we attacked well in some areas, especially the pins – Sara (McClinton) was on fire today – so it was a good week for us.”
McClinton was front and center. The Omaha, Neb., native was phenomenal, breaking out for 23 kills and zero errors for a .676 attack percentage – both career highs. She also registered a block assist and a solo block to lead all players with 24.5 points.
Her counterpart, fellow junior outside Chelsea Albers, also shined, posting her fifth double-double of the season with 13 kills and 14 digs along with seven blocks. Keeping it rolling on the outside, sophomore Tiana Dockery posted 11 kills to round out the Jayhawks in double digits. While Baylor kept KU’s middles quiet offensively, the Bears couldn’t hold off their defensive power. Freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie led the way with nine blocks, while redshirt senior Caroline Jarmoc was right behind her with seven.
As a unit, the Jayhawks out-did the Bears in every aspect. KU cranked out a .363 attack percentage, while holding Baylor to .149, including 29 attack errors. Most impressively, was the Jayhawks extreme blocking advantage, finishing the afternoon with 16 blocks to Baylor’s three.
In her 100th career start, senior libero Brianne Riley racked up 14 digs to match Albers for the team high. Freshman Cassie Wait also added 10 digs.
The second set saw Jarmoc eclipse the 200-kill mark for the season. With six kills on Saturday, Jarmoc now has 203 in 2013 – making her one of five Jayhawks in Kansas volleyball history to record 200-plus kills in four-consecutive seasons.
Soucie helped get the Jayhawks rolling in the opening frame, throwing down a pair of kills and a block assist to get KU out in front, 9-5. By the media timeout, KU had cruised ahead 15-9 thanks to a negative hitting percentage from the home team. Out to a steep 18-10 lead, KU had committed just one error compared to Baylor’s eight – a trend that continued throughout the afternoon.
A block by Jarmoc and Albers followed quickly with a Dockery kill brought KU to set point. Jarmoc’s fourth block of the set finished it out, 25-16. Jarmoc and Soucie combined for five kills and no errors, while Baylor committed 11 errors to 10 kills for a -.028 attack percentage in a Kansas-dominated set one.
Baylor kicked up the accuracy in set two and a well-timed block early in the second set saw the Bears close their deficit to a single point, 8-7. An overpass that BU’s Laura Jones struck for a kill tied the set for the first time all afternoon, 9-9. A roll shot from Albers and the continued solid Soucie attacking had the Jayhawks on a consistent roll. Though errors still pestered Baylor, the Bears benefitted off three-straight Kansas misplays to take their first lead, 17-16, prompting an emphatic Kansas timeout.
The home team kept coming as an ace out of the break pushed the Bears out to a two-point advantage until back-to-back McClinton kills knotted the set at 19-19. The junior outside continued to come up big, churning out three more kills after that to put Kansas back in front, 23-22. This time it was Baylor that used a timeout – and it worked. Despite a .424 Kansas attack percentage in the set, the Bears came out of the timeout to score the next three points and take set two, 25-23.
Kansas came out mad in set three, slamming down six kills in the first eight points. A big block from Soucie and Albers also helped KU gain quick ground, 8-4. KU picked up speed fast thanks to multiple kills and an ace from Albers, and the Jayhawks doubled up the Bears, 12-6. Now in full speed, McClinton kept her stellar streak going while a solo block from Soucie and Albers’ fourth kill of the frame forced Baylor’s hand. The home team called a timeout trailing the Jayhawks, 17-11.
Dockery drilled a Bear defender in the chest to get the Jayhawks to the 20-point mark, but again Baylor ignited in the final points of the set. A 5-2 run saw Baylor charge its way back, cutting KU’s once sizable lead to 22-20. Albers went to work, connecting on two kills to bring the Jayhawks to set point. Baylor’s sixth and final attack error of the frame handed KU the 2-1 lead, 25-22.
Enjoying a stellar performance, McClinton blocked a Zoe Adom attack to kick off set number four. She rattled off four more kills to bring her in-game streak to 20 kills without an error as KU marched forward, 13-9. Though Baylor kept clawing, Kansas picked apart any openings Baylor gave up. One point fell between a pair of Bear defenders and kill from Jarmoc propelled Kansas ahead, 18-13.
It was all Kansas from there, McClinton put KU ahead 23-16 and a rare Riley kill brought KU to match point before sealing the win, 25-17.
- Senior libero Brianne Riley’s 14 digs moved her closer to sixth all-time on the Big 12 Conference's career digs list (1,788), chasing former Missouri star Tatum Ailes (1,997; 2004-07).
- Riley now has double-digit digs in 42-consecutive matches.
- Redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc’s 1,154 career kills are the second-most among current Big 12 players. She trails fellow senior Kaitlynn Pelger from Kansas State (1,347).
- Jarmoc's seven total blocks pulled her closer to becoming KU’s all-time blocks leader. Her 493 career blocks ranks second only to Amanda Reves (514; 1996-99).
Kansas returns home for back-to-back matches, beginning with Oklahoma on Wednesday, Oct. 9 and hosting defending national champion and fourth-ranked Texas on Saturday, Oct. 12. Both matches are slated for 6:30 p.m. start times.