LAWRENCE, Kan. – Junior outside hitter Sara McClinton knocked down 16 kills, but it wasn’t enough as the Kansas Jayhawks saw their 10-match win streak come to an end at the hands of No. 3 Texas in four sets, 17-25, 26-24, 20-25, 15-25 Saturday evening inside the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
McClinton’s 16 kills continued her hot streak, making it four-straight matches she recorded double-digit kills for the Jayhawks. Kansas (14-4, 4-1) couldn’t find the right rhythm to take down the defending NCAA champion Longhorns (12-2, 5-0) on a night three Kansas players notched 10 or more kills, but only mustered a season-low .106 hitting percentage.
“I learned long ago that you credit the opponent for a lot of the things they make you do,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “But we were out of character at times tonight. We went on a good run, but Texas took it to us a little bit tonight. We’ll bounce back – we need to have a good week next week.”
Senior setter Erin McNorton provided accurate passes to the Jayhawk attack on her way to 42 assists on the night. Redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc put down 12 kills, while junior outside hitter Chelsea Albers had 10 of her own. On the defensive side, senior libero Brianne Riley dug out 19 Longhorn attacks, extending her streak of double-digit digs streak to 44-consecutive matches. Freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie posted three blocks on the night as did Jarmoc, making her the second Jayhawk in program history to amass 500 career blocks.
The Longhorns were led offensively by senior outside hitter Bailey Webster’s match-high 20 kills alongside a .386 hitting percentage. Reigning AVCA National Player of the Year, junior outside hitter Haley Eckerman, and junior middle blocker Khat Bell also had double-digit kills for the Longhorns with 11 and 10, respectively. The decisive points for the Longhorns came on the defensive side of the net as sophomore middle blocker Molly McCage had a match-high 10 blocks and senior setter Hannah Allison had eight of her own on a night Texas out-blocked Kansas 17-6 – the most by a Jayhawk opponent since Creighton put up 20 blocks to KU’s 10 (9/19/12).
Both teams traded blows early in the first set, the Jayhawks found themselves trailing 9-5 when Soucie connected on a kill. The following play, Soucie and sophomore outside hitter Tiana Dockery ignited the sold-out crowd with a block on a Longhorn attack, making the score 9-7. Texas wasn’t bothered by the atmosphere, the defending national champions rattled off three-straight points forcing Kansas to use a timeout trailing, 12-7. The timeout didn’t halt the momentum the Longhorns had built early in the set, as Kansas couldn’t find an answer for the Longhorn assault, falling behind 21-13. Soucie and Albers blocked another Texas attack to try and spark a rally, down 21-14, but it wasn’t enough. Every time Kansas seemed to climb back into the set, the Longhorns regained control. Led by Webster’s eight kills, Texas went on to eventually claim the first set 25-17.
Riding the momentum they built in the first set, the second set opened with the Longhorns jumping out to an early 3-0 lead. The Jayhawks climbed back within two, 5-3, but Texas reeled off four-straight points on a kill by Eckerman, back-to-back blocks, and a kill from Webster made Kansas take a timeout down 8-3. KU once again showed life out of the timeout following consecutive kills from McClinton and Albers, inching the Jayhawks within three, 8-5. The Jayhawks had no answer for the Longhorns at the net as nearly every Jayhawk attack was bothered by the length the of the Texas defenders, who posted six blocks in the set.
With his team trailing 16-9, Bechard burned a timeout in an attempt to turn the match around. Two kills from McClinton, one from Dockery, and a block by Soucie cut the score to 18-14, leading to a Texas timeout. The capacity crowd got their chance to erupt following a kill from Jarmoc and a service ace from Riley, which cut the Longhorn lead to two, 18-16. Texas recorded two straight to climb back up by four. This time, the Jayhawks notched three-straight points highlighted by a block from McNorton and Jarmoc, forcing a Texas timeout with the Longhorns clinging to a one point lead, 20-19. The Jayhawks took their first lead of the set 22-21 on another block by McNorton and Jarmoc. With Kansas facing set-point trailing 24-23, and risking going down two sets to none, the Jayhawks connected on three-straight points on a kill from Soucie and deafening back-to-back kills from McClinton to finish the comeback and take the second set 26-24.
Tied 1-1, Texas came out of the intermission strong, jumping out to an early 6-2 lead, seeming to halt the momentum Kansas had built late in the second set. It looked like the Jayhawks were going to make a run after McClinton recorded her ninth kill the match followed by Albers’s fifth, tightening up the score 6-4. Texas found its rhythm and regained a firm lead in the set using a 3-0 run to go up 12-6. The Longhorns built the lead up to seven, 15-8, forcing a Jayhawk timeout. Texas maintained control of its lead after KU trimmed the score to 16-11 on McClinton’s 10th kill. The Longhorns answered with another 3-0 run to stretch the lead to eight points, 19-11. Kansas wouldn’t go away as the team fought back in the set on a kill from Albers, McClinton, and two from Jarmoc, forcing a Texas timeout late in the set up 22-17. The Jayhawks fell short of another comeback, however, as Texas was able to close the door on the Kansas rally, winning the third set 25-20 and taking a 2-1 advantage in the match.
The fourth set started with both teams trading points early. KU took a 4-2 lead highlighted by service aces from Riley and Albers. Texas was able to overcome the early Jayhawk attack by going on a 3-0 run to take the lead 9-6. The teams battled back and forth until Texas started to pull away, 16-10 midway through the set, causing KU to call its final timeout. The Longhorns kept control of their lead out of the timeout as the Jayhawks found themselves with their backs against the wall down 20-11. The Longhorns never looked back, taking the set 25-15. Texas won the match 3-1 ending the Kansas 10-match win streak.
- Senior libero Brianne Riley's 19 digs moved her closer to sixth all-time on the Big 12 Conference's career digs list (1,824), chasing former Missouri star Tatum Ailes (1,997; 2004-07).
- Riley now has double-digit digs in 44-consecutive matches.
- Redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc's passed former Kansas players Emily Brown (1,168; 2004-07) and Mary Beth Albrecht (1,171; 1996-99) to move into sixth all-time for career kills at Kansas (1,177) career kills. That number is second-most among current Big 12 players. She trails fellow senior Kaitlynn Pelger from Kansas State (1,376).
- Jarmoc's three total blocks pulled her closer to becoming KU's all-time blocks leader. Sitting at 500 career blocks, Jarmoc needs just 15 more to become the new Kansas leader (currently Amanda Reves with 514; 1996-99).
Kansas will hit the road for a pair of long road trips, starting on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at Texas Tech. First serve is set for 6 p.m. The Jayhawks then travel to West Virginia for a 5:30 p.m. CT meeting against the Mountaineers on Saturday, Oct. 19.