No. 24 Kansas Resilient in 3-1 Victory at West Virginia
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Shaking off just its second first-set loss of the year, Kansas used a flawless 14-kill effort from redshirt junior Caroline Jarmoc to knock off West Virginia and improve to 3-0 in conference play for the first time in program history, 15-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-17.
In their first meeting as members of the same conference, Kansas (15-2, 3-0) moved to 3-0 all-time against West Virginia (8-10, 0-5) on a night that saw the Jayhawks make history in both Big 12 and Big Eight play. Just as it was this season with No. 19 Iowa State, the Jayhawks have faced at least one nationally-ranked team in the first three conference matches in consecutive seasons dating back to 1996, making the 3-0 milestone a noteworthy occasion.
“It just means that we need to get ready for Baylor,” head coach Ray Bechard said on the 3-0 start. ”They’re a very good team and I know they’re very hungry to get off to a good start in Big 12 play, as well. It’s obviously a good start, with two of those wins on the road, but it’s a good start and now we’ll get ready for Saturday.”
After suffering its worst margin of defeat this season in the first set off of a dismal .000 attack percentage, the Jayhawks rebounded immediately with a .379 average in set two and a .452 mark in the third frame to claim the lead in convincing fashion. KU gave up 12 kills to the home team in the first frame, but would allow only 25 more for the remainder of the match.
Jarmoc once again proved her validity as the Big 12’s leader in attack percentage as the middle blocker chalked up 14 kills without a single error to lead the Jayhawks with a .538 hitting efficiency. Her .538 percentage makes nine times in 2012 the Calgary, Alberta, Canada native has hit .500 or better. Redshirt junior outside hitter Catherine Carmichael led the floor with 15 kills, while senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree and sophomore outside hitter Sara McClinton chipped in nine kills apiece.
Defensively, the Jayhawks out-blocked the Mountaineers, 12-7, led by seven from Tolefree. Junior libero Brianne Riley recorded her eighth 20-dig performance of the season, leading the floor with 20 on Wednesday.
Freshman outside hitter Nikki Attea led the offensive for West Virginia, totaling 14 kills while fellow freshman Caleah Wells set the defensive pace with five blocks.
The Mountaineers entered the week as the only team in the Big 12 with three players in the top-10 in service aces. WVU used that to its advantage in the opening set, recording a pair of early aces to take a 9-5 lead and prompt a Kansas timeout. The Mountaineers’ third of the set saw the Jayhawks fall behind, 11-6.
McClinton rattled off a pair of kills and a got up for a solo block to lead her team on a 4-0 run, forcing a timeout from the West Virginia bench after closing the gap, 14-11. What looked to be KU seizing momentum, however, was quickly overturned as WVU mounted a double-digit lead by set point. Back-to-back kills from Carmichael couldn’t hold off the home team as Kansas fell, 25-15.
Carmichael’s four kills and .333 attack provided a majority of the offense in the opening frame, while McClinton and Tolefree tallied three blocks apiece.
Ready to retaliate, Tolefree and McClinton got right back to work to start the second set, knocking down four quick kills to grab the 8-4 advantage. After hitting .000 as a team in the opener, KU came out firing at a .500 attack percentage to start set two and stretched the lead, 13-7. Again Carmichael came with consecutive kills, this time off-setting the two aces in three points by WVU’s Evyn McCoy.
The momentum swing KU tried for in the first set arrived in a big way by the middle of the second. A Jarmoc kill coupled with an attack error from WVU’s side of the net saw Kansas soar ahead, 22-13. Freshman outside hitter Tiana Dockery and Tolefree took turns notching solo blocks to close out the set, 25-16, and take the match to break tied, 1-1.
If the momentum shifted in the second set, it completely moved in by the third frame as West Virginia had to use a timeout before scoring its first point. On the other side of the net, the Jayhawks jump started the set with eight kills on an .889 efficiency rate, sprinting to an 11-3 lead. Three-straight points, highlighted by a sharp swing from Tolefree, pushed the Jayhawks to their first double-digit lead of the evening, 16-6. KU would keep its distance for the remainder of the set, rarely allowing the Mountaineers inside the 10-point margin.
Tolefree’s sixth kill of the night closed up the set and returned the lead to the Jayhawks, 25-14. Fellow middle, Jarmoc, shined in the third, busting out six kills and a .667 attack percentage to power KU’s .468 mark as a unit in the explosive frame.
The fourth and final frame started more evenly matched with the teams trading scores through the first five points, but Kansas didn’t need long to pick up steam. Dockery and Tolefree joined at the net for KU’s 11th block of the night and a Riley ace highlighted a 5-0 Kansas run. At the 16-8 mark, WVU head coach Jill Kramer used her last timeout.
Fighting to stay in it, Kramer’s team responded. The Mountaineers rallied for a 5-0 run of their own, closing the gap to 17-13 before KU stopped the charge. A pair of attack errors sandwiched around a Jarmoc kill propelled the Jayhawks out of reach, 21-13. Jarmoc’s last swing of the evening brought KU to match point before Tolefree and McClinton sealed the deal with a block, 25-17.
No. 24 Kansas will welcome the Baylor Bears to the Horejsi Family Athletics Center on Sat., Oct. 6. First serve is set for 6:30 p.m.
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