MADISON, Wis. – Sophomore Tiana Dockery connected on a season-high 10 kills to lead Kansas in a convincing sweep against Milwaukee Friday morning in the opening match of the InnTowner Invitational, 25-20, 25-18, 25-10.
Kansas (5-3) hit .257 while holding Milwaukee (3-4) to a mere .060 attacking percentage in the team’s Friday the 13th meeting, marking the second time this season KU has held an opponent under .100. KU got stronger as the match progressed, and by set three, KU used 8-0 and 7-0 runs to collect its fifth win of the year.
“It was a matter of us finally combining our defensive with our offense,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “We were a little uneven in our first two sets, but we blocked well and really got a lot of positive touches off the block that we converted into points in the third set.”
Dockery churned out six kills and no errors in the first set and her one and only attack error didn’t happen until the third set, pacing the Jayhawk offense with a .346 hitting percentage. With just nine combined kills from middle blockers Caroline Jarmoc and Tayler Soucie, the Jayhawk outsides stepped up. Juniors Chelsea Albers and Sara McClinton joined forces to help Dockery as the trio accounted for 29 of KU’s 38 kills.
Senior setter Erin McNorton doled out the offense with 32 assists, while fellow senior setter Kara Wehrs checked in for her first action of the season. At the net, Jarmoc led the blocking effort with six rejections. Soucie and Albers were right behind her with five each. Behind them, senior libero Brianne Riley led the defense with 12 digs.
Milwaukee senior middle blocker Rachel Neuberger, the 2013 Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year, was held to a team-high seven kills.
Albers came out hot in the opening set, rattling off four kills to help KU to a 6-4 advantage. Dockery and McClinton were quick to back her as the three of them handled the scoring load through most of the first set. The trio built 5-0 that saw the Panthers use both of their timeouts while KU climbed ahead, 16-10.
Still looking for their first kill from a middle, the Jayhawks found other ways to score. Senior defensive specialist Amy Wehrs drove in an ace and McClinton kept swinging to stay in front, 21-15. Soucie notched the first kill for the middles as KU headed toward set point, and Dockery knocked down her sixth kill of the set to take the 1-0 lead, 25-20.
Jarmoc landed her first kill of the morning in set two, giving KU a 5-4 lead. Neither team allowed much room, surrendering no more than a one or two-point lead. A kill and a block assist from Jarmoc helped KU start to break it open, 14-10. Milwaukee signaled for the timeout and came back to cut the deficit in half, but KU was in motion. With the Jayhawks leading 17-13, the Panthers used their last timeout.
Soucie and Jarmoc kicked into gear to close out the second frame, which included a pair of kills from Jarmoc, one from Soucie and an Albers/Soucie block to run away with the second set - and the 2-0 lead - 25-18. After going silent in set one, Jarmoc led the team with four kills in the second set.
Looking to extend the match, Milwaukee got out to a 5-3 lead early in the third set. The lead was brief as Dockery slammed back-to-back kills to highlight an 8-0 KU run. Kansas forced the Panthers to burn both time outs on its way to an 11-5 lead. By the time McNorton caught the opposing back row off guard with her first ace of the weekend, KU was in the middle of another lopsided 7-0 run to all but lock it up, 19-8.
Milwaukee errors did most of the work down the stretch. Kills from Jarmoc and Albers broke it up, but two final attack errors sealed the set and the sweep, 25-10.
-Friday: vs. Milwaukee – W, 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-10)
-Friday: at No. 25 Wisconsin – 7 p.m. CT
-Saturday: vs. Bowling Green – 1 p.m. CT
- Senior libero Brianne Riley recorded 12 digs to move closer to eighth all-time on the Big 12 Conference's career digs list (1,646), currently held by former Nebraska standout Kayla Banwarth (1,706; 2007-10).
- Riley now has double-digit digs in 34-consecutive matches.
- KU’s match against Milwaukee is the first that redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc did not record double-digit kills this season.
- Jarmoc’s two solo blocks on Friday was the 86th of her career, bringing her within one of tying Amanda Reves (87; 1986-89) for third all-time on the Kansas career solo blocks list.
- Jarmoc’s six total blocks also pulled her closer to the KU all-time blocks leader. Her 453 career blocks ranks second only to Amanda Reves (514; 1996-99).
- Freshman middle blocker Emma Hanson saw her first action as Jayhawk, checking into the match during the third set.
Kansas will be the home opener for the undefeated No. 25 Wisconsin Badgers, Friday night at 7 p.m.