LAWRENCE, Kan. – Three Jayhawks contributed double-digit kills, but couldn’t find the rally needed to push No. 11 overall-seeded Kansas past in-state rival Wichita State in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament, 25-23, 16-25, 19-25, 21-25, in front of 4,478 fans Saturday night inside Allen Fieldhouse.
For the second-straight night sophomore outside hitter Sara McClinton, an Omaha, Neb. native, led the offense. She recorded her 18 kills on 43 attempts to give her a .349 attack percentage to lead all Kansas (26-7) attackers in the Jayhawks four set loss to Wichita State (24-9).
The 2012 Jayhawks finished the year as the winningest team in program history (.765), collected more home wins (17) than any other year, earned a program-best No. 6 RPI ranking and posted its highest Big 12 Conference finish (3rd, 12-4).
“There will be a point in time where we understand what we got accomplished this year,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “But it’s probably not going to be in the next couple days. It’s disappointing when you don’t play at your best when you need to, but your opponent has a lot to do with that. We’re still extremely proud of the season that we had and these young ladies.”
A total of 8,029 fans watched the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Tournament over the last two days inside historic Allen Fieldhouse. That marks the highest attendance number for First and Second Round action among all the 16 host sites in the country.
Along with McClinton, redshirt juniors middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc (10) and outside hitter Catherine Carmichael (13) also finished the match with double-figure kills to round out the Kansas attack. Defensively, the Jayhawks were led by junior libero Brianne Riley who secured the Kansas back row with 23 digs and Jarmoc, who finished the match with four blocks.
Junior middle blocker Ashley Andrade led the Wichita State attack, which saw four Shockers finish with double-digit kills, with 18 kills on 32 attempts to record a .438 hitting percentage. Andrade also led the WSU defense recording nine total blocks to secure the net. Senior libero Jakie Church secure the Shockers back row, recording 19 digs for the match.
Wichita State came out strong to open up the night, leading for most of the first set. However, several service errors and a 4-0 Kansas run gave the Jayhawks their first lead of the set, 8-7. Wichita State would stop the KU run with back-to-back points to regain the lead, 9-8, which the visitors would hold until midway through the set, when consecutive kills from the Jayhawks gave them their second lead, 15-14, of the set. The Jayhawks would build their lead to as many as four, but the Shockers fought back to tie the match late in the set, 21-21, and force KU to call their first timeout.
After a back-and-forth battle, a block from Jarmoc and McNorton on the next point would close out the Shockers, 25-23, and give the first set to the Jayhawks. McClinton continued her offensive presence from the first round and led the Kansas offense with five kills in the first set. Defensively, the Jayhawks were led by Riley who recorded 11 digs in the set to secure the Kansas back row.
A pair of runs to start the second set would give the Shockers an early lead, 11-7, and force the Jayhawks to call their first timeout of the set. Wichita State continued to build its lead with the help of an 8-0 run midway through the set to put them up, 22-10. KU countered the Shockers run with five-straight points of their own, but it wouldn’t be enough, as the Shockers would close out the Jayhawks, 25-16, on a kill from Andrade. McClinton once again led the Kansas attack, recording six kills with a .500 hitting percentage.
Coming out of the break, both teams matched each other blow-for-blow resulting in an early 8-8 tie in the third set. Neither team would be able to gain much separation, in a set that saw 13 ties and four lead changes, until three-straight points from Wichita State late in the set gave the Shockers some separation, 21-18, and forced KU to call their first timeout of the set. WSU stayed hot, connecting on the next two points out of the timeout to force another timeout from the KU bench, with the score, 23-18. Wichita State would take two of the next three points out of the timeout to take the set, 25-19, and take a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth set. Carmichael led the Kansas attack; recording four kills in the set.
The Shockers held control heading into the fourth set, taking the first two points and using a 3-0 run later on in the set to build a, 9-6, lead and force a KU timeout. Wichita State would maintain its lead with the help of a 3-0 run midway through the set, 16-11, to force another KU timeout. The Jayhawks would take three of the next four points out of the timeout to cut the Shockers lead, 17-14.
The Jayhawks slowly began to chip away at the deficit with a 3-0 run to get them within one, 20-19, before Wichita State called another timeout. Three-straight points from the Shockers out of the timeout would give them all the separation they needed to close out the set, 25-21, and take the match 3-1 to advance to the Regional Round.