LAWRENCE, Kan. – A team-best performance of 14 kills and zero errors from junior outside hitter Chelsea Albers helped Kansas get off to a powerful start, defeating North Dakota State in three sets in the opening match of the Kansas Invitational. The Jayhawks downed the Bison 25-18, 25-14, 25-18, Friday afternoon in Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
Kansas (8-3) defended its home court, holding North Dakota State (0-10) to a .140 attack percentage while cranking out a season high .458 – the first time the Jayhawks have hit over .400 as a team since October 29, 2012 against West Virginia. KU also sided-out at 78 percent, powering the efficient sweep.
Albers registered a career-high .700 hitting percentage and was followed by a season-high .565 effort from sophomore outside hitter Tiana Dockery. The duo chalked up 28 kills and one error between the both of them. Senior setter Erin McNorton dished out 42 assists as all three Jayhawks setters recorded at least one assist in the victory.
“We sided-out very well,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “Our first-ball kill percentage was high. We were a little bit in-and-out defensively at times, especially against their left side attackers. In the big picture, it was a good clean win by our time.”
Defensively, freshman middle blocker Tayler Soucie led the team with four blocks, while senior libero Brianne Riley came up with 14 digs.
In the opening set, the Bison scored the first point off a service error to take a 1-0 lead, but Kansas answered with a 3-0 run. NDSU worked early to keep it tight, getting within one point, 8-7. The Jayhawks answered back with a 5-0, run to pull ahead, 12-7. The Kansas frontline overpowered the NDSU defense for three more points forcing the Bison to call a timeout with Kansas leading, 15-9. The Jayhawks went on to score two more points, hitting .632 to nearly put the set out of reach at 17-11, before NDSU called another timeout.
Kansas continued its hot hitting throughout the end of the set and eventually closed out the Bison, 25-18. Dockery led the Kansas offense with five kills on seven attempts, for a .714 hitting percentage.
In the second set, the Bison once again came out and scored the first point and once again Kansas came back and answered with a 3-0 run to lead, 3-1. North Dakota State rallied back to narrow the gap and come within one point to the Jayhawks to trail, 6-5. Hard hitting combined with a strong defensive effort from Kansas helped the Jayhawks gain a 9-5 advantage over the Bison going into the first timeout of the set. KU continued to dominate the Bison as they took a, 17-11. The Jayhawks carried the momentum they had going into the timeout by sticking two blocks to secure a 19-12 lead. Kansas continued to dominate NDSU, allowing the visitors to score only two more points for the remainder of the set as they won, 25-14. Albers led the frame with five kills on six attempts.
Heading into the final set, Kansas got off to a hot start with a kill from Soucie and went on to take a 7-0 lead, forcing an early NDSU timeout. The Bison came out of the timeout to finally answer as they scored on the Jayhawks to make the score, 7-1. Back-to-back kills from Dockery kept the hot streak going as KU took a 9-4 lead.
Kansas went on to score three more unanswered points before the Bison came back with three of their own. The Jayhawks regained momentum and hit the ball hard to create a 22-15 before the second timeout of the set. A block by Soucie, followed by a kill by Albers helped the Jayhawks clinch a 25-18 victory.
-Friday: vs. North Dakota State: W, 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-18)
-Friday: vs. Georgia – 7 p.m.
-Sunday: vs. Notre Dame – 1 p.m.
- Senior libero Brianne Riley’s 14 digs to moved her into eighth all-time on the Big 12 Conference's career digs list (1,719), passing former Nebraska standout Kayla Banwarth (1,706; 2007-10).
- Riley now has double-digit digs in 37-consecutive matches.
- Redshirt senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc’s 1,108 career kills are the second-most among current Big 12 players. She trails fellow senior Kaitlynn Pelger from Kansas State.
- Jarmoc’s one solo block on Friday was the 88th of her career, passing Amanda Reves (87; 1986-89) for third all-time on the Kansas career solo blocks list.
- Jarmoc’s two blocks also pulled her closer to the KU all-time blocks leader. Her 467 career blocks ranks second only to Amanda Reves (514; 1996-99).
- Redshirt freshman Maggie Anderson recorded her first assist as a Jayhawk in the first set.
Kansas will square off against Georgia in Friday’s primetime match. First serve is set for 7 p.m.