Volleyball overpowered by Kansas attack

By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Reporter

Donning pink uniforms to honor those who have previously battled and are currently battling cancer, No. 24 Baylor had its nine-match winning streak at the Ferrell Center snapped as No. 11 Kansas routed the Bears 25-14, 25-22, 25-14.

Baylor head coach Ryan McGuyre said that as disappointing as his team’s effort was, Kansas played an incredibly clean match.

“Absolutely disappointed — We are so much better than what we did. Kansas was very sharp. They didn’t get away anything or it make it easy for us to do it. It just wasn’t Baylor volleyball tonight,” McGuyre said. “Kansas did a great job mixing up their shots, moving the ball around, really exploited a lot of holes that we gave up tonight.”

The Jayhawks put on a hitting clinic against the Baylor defense, hitting .308 as a team and tallying 45 kills in 104 attacks.

Senior outside hitter Madison Rigdon led the charge for Kansas with 18 kills, while sophomore outside hitter Jada Burse added 11 and sophomore middle blocker Zoe Hill hit .727, converting on eight of her 11 attacks.

The Jayhawk defense was just as disruptive as their offensive attack. Kansas held Baylor to just .088 hitting percentage, 32 total kills, including just eight from redshirt senior Katie Staiger. Staiger was held to a -.034 hitting percentage.

After grabbing the first two points of the match, Baylor had no luck finding a rhythm in dropping the opening set 25-14 to the Jayhawks.

Kansas kept the Bears on their toes, with a good mix of serves and quality placement on the attacks, running the Baylor defenders all over the court to try to track the ball down. When Baylor was able to handle the pass and get a good look, the Bears were met with strong resistance at the net in the Jayhawks’ block. Kansas limited Baylor to a .029 hitting percentage and forced eight errors.

In order to adjust to the block, the Baylor attack looked to hit around the block, but the result was more errors on the attack.

McGuyre said that at times Baylor was too aggressive on the attack and those miscues played right into Kansas’ hands.

“They sent some tough balls over and we didn’t handle them very well and then gave it back to them and kill it on the next one. We needed to handle those balls a lot better so we can get better swings,” McGuyre said. “On the reverse side, we took some aggressive swings at maybe not the right times, which contributed to their block numbers.”

Meanwhile the Jayhawks found great success on the attack, hitting .379 with 14 kills and just three errors, including nine kills in 12 attacks from Rigdon.

Baylor got off to a better start in the second, getting kills from Staiger, senior middle hitter Camryn Freiberg and redshirt sophomore Shelly Fanning in building a 6-3 lead.

However, the Jayhawks slowly began to chip away with a string of three straight kills to tie the set up at 12.

The two would go back and forth with freshman outside hitter and reigning Big 12 Player of the Week Yossiana Pressley’s kill tying the set again at 21. But kills from Rigdon and sophomore outside hitter Jada Bruse, coupled with a Baylor error gave the Jayhawks set point at 24-21. Staiger’s fourth kill temporarily kept the Bears in the set, but right side hitter Kelsie Payne’s kill down the center of the court gave Kansas the second set 25-22.

Kansas looked determined to close out the match in three sets as the Jayhawks raced out to a 5-0 lead to open, taking advantage of three Baylor errors and a point off the block to force an early timeout from the Bears.

Staiger and junior outside hitter Aniah Philo did all they could to try to keep Baylor in the match getting several points off the attack, but the Jayhawks kept the pressure and continued to find holes in the Baylor defense for easy points.

Philo’s team-leading ninth kill of the match cut the deficit to 21-13, but three kills and a final Jayhawks block sealed the set and the match, 25-14.

Philo and senior libero Jana Brusek each had 12 digs for the Bears defensively.

Despite the loss, McGuyre and the Bears are still confident moving forward.

“I’m still very excited about our future. I know how much better we can get overall, so we’ll be looking forward to the second half where we can do some things,” McGuyre said. “We got punched in the face tonight. It was a little bit of a character check on what we’ve been doing.”

No. 24 Baylor (16-5, 6-2) will now begin the second time through its Big 12 schedule beginning with Texas Tech at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Lubbock.