LAWRENCE, Kan. – A pair of 18 kill performances from redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc and junior outside hitter Sara McClinton led the Jayhawks as they fell to Arkansas, 3-2, in five sets, 23-25, 25-21, 24-26, 25-12, 11-15, Saturday afternoon inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
In front of nearly 1,100 fans loud and ready for the home opener, Jarmoc recorded six blocks to protect the net for Kansas (4-2) in the loss to Arkansas (4-2). After coming back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits against the Razorbacks two days ago to force a set five, KU did so again on Saturday with less favorable results.
“The two matches were eerily similar,” Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. “Because it was 10-10 at their place and 11-11 here in the fifth. We lose two games, 25-23, 26-24, and win one game very easily and one game so-so. Arkansas is a good team. They made a number of plays and we can be a little cleaner in the end. Obviously, we can learn some lessons from today.”
Freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie also recorded double-digit kills for the Jayhawks, finishing the match with 12 off of a .435 hitting percentage. Senior setter Erin McNorton facilitated the Jayhawk offense with 56 assists. Defensively, the Jayhawks had three players reach at least 10 digs, led by senior libero Brianne Riley who finished the match with 20.
The Razorbacks’ offense was led again by junior outside hitter Meredith Hays, who recorded 22 kills and senior outside hitter Hayley Koop who finished the match with 15 kills and a .464 hitting percentage. Defensively, Arkansas was led by senior libero Emily Helm, who recorded 24 digs and redshirt freshman middle blocker Ana Sofia Jusino, who protected the net with six blocks. Both teams racked up 10 blocks on the day.
Arkansas came out of the gate strong, taking the first three points of the match, before the Jayhawks got on the board. KU battled back and got within one, 6-7, until a 4-0 run gave the Razorbacks some separation, 6-11, and forced Bechard to call his first timeout. With the score 10-14, KU came up with back-to-back points capped off by a combined block from Jarmoc and fellow redshirt senior Catherine Carmichael to bring the Jayhawks within two, 12-14, and force Arkansas to call their first timeout. Arkansas responded with three-straight points out of the timeout to extend the lead, 17-12, and force another Kansas timeout. A 4-0 run from the Jayhawks brought them within two, 17-19. KU continued to rally, pulling within one of the Razorbacks to force another Arkansas timeout. An Arkansas error would tie the score at 22, but the Razorbacks would take three of the next four points to win the set, 23-25. Jarmoc led the KU offense with six kills and a .625 hitting percentage. Riley anchored the back line and led the Jayhawk defense with seven digs.
Arkansas carried its momentum into the start of the second set, taking six of the first eight points, before back-to-back kills from Jarmoc brought the Jayhawks within two, 4-6. KU kept the momentum in its favor to comeback to take the first lead of the match, 11-10. The Jayhawks held their lead and back-to-back points, 18-15, forced Arkansas to call a timeout. The break in the action did not stop the Kansas attack and the Jayhawks maintained their lead for the rest of the set, behind timely defense and a balanced offense to take the set, 25-21. Jarmoc, Soucie and sophomore outside hitter Tiana Dockery led the Jayhawks with three kills apiece. Jarmoc also added three blocks in the set to anchor the KU defense.
Both teams battled back-and-forth to open up the third set, until three-straight points from the Jayhawks would bring their lead to four, 10-6. The Razorbacks answered with four-straight points of their own to tie the match at ten. With the score in their favor, 12-11, KU took a long rally, which sparked the home crowd and helped the Jayhawks to four-straight points and forced Arkansas to use a timeout, 15-11. Arkansas battled back to tie the set at 18 and halt the KU momentum. The teams played evenly late into the set, forcing extra points until the Razorbacks won the set, 26-24. McClinton led the Jayhawk offense with six kills in the set. Jarmoc turned in another well-rounded performance in the set, finishing with four kills and two blocks to lead the Jayhawk defense.
Down 2-1, Kansas started the fourth set taking four of the first five points. The Jayhawks would lead by as many as six, before Arkansas scored three straight to come within three, 12-9. KU answered with back-to-back kills from McClinton and an ace from Jarmoc to get the lead back to six, 15-9, and force an Arkansas timeout. The Jayhawks extended their run to five out of the timeout with two more points before the Razorbacks halted the rally, 17-10. The Jayhawks stayed hot and closed out the set, 25-12, with eight of the last nine points to tie the match, 2-2. McClinton once again paced the KU offense with six kills. As a whole, the Jayhawks hit .591 in the set, making that the first time KU has hit over .500 in a set this season.
KU carried its momentum into the fifth set and took three of the first four points to take the early advantage, 3-1. The teams battled back-and-forth, but back-to-back points for the Jayhawks gave KU an 8-5 lead at the midway point. Coming out of the break, the Razorbacks took the first four points to take the advantage, 8-9, and force a Kansas timeout. Arkansas continued to control the set, until the Jayhawks put back-to-back points together to tie the set at 11. With the score tied late in the set, the Razorbacks took the final four points to win the set, 11-15, and take the match.
After just one match at home, Kansas will hit the road again for a midweek meeting at No. 19 Creighton on Tuesday, Sept. 10. First serve is set for 6 p.m.