Jayhawks force fifth set against Sooners to win
- Oct. 11, 2012
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For the fourth time in six matches, the Kansas volleyball team survived a five-set match, defeating the Oklahoma Sooners 3-2. But for the first time this season, the Jayhawks had to scramble to make it to five sets last night in Norman, Okla.
Oklahoma dominated Kansas in sets two and three, winning 25-21 and 25-13. But the Jayhawks rallied behind junior outside hitter Catherine Carmichael, who recorded a career-high 18 kills. Carmichael scored three of the Jayhawks’ last five points in its fourth set victory, and three of itsfirstsix points in the fifth set.
“Erin’s (McNorton) sets were amazing tonight, and so I think that definitely helped in me getting enough kills,” Carmichael said. “I was hot, I was hitting really well, obviously. It was obviously a momentum change and we just kept rolling with it.”
Three times this season, the Jayhawks won the first two sets, only to lose the next two sets before fnishing the match in the fifth set. Against the Sooners, it looked like Kansas wouldn’t be able to force a fifth set.
Kansas used four Sooner errors to open an early 5-1 lead. Oklahoma committed nine errors during the set, leaving them with a .077 hiting percentage.
The Jayhawks committed only four errors in the first set, and were paced offensively by junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc and senior middle blocker Tayler Tolefree, who notched five and four blocks, respectively.
The second set seesawed back and forth, with nine ties and three lead changes. However, with the score tied 15-15, an Oklahoma kill and four straight Jayhawk attack errors gave the Sooners a commanding 20-15 lead. The Sooners final five points all came from kills, as the Jayhawks were could not stop them.
Oklahoma led 8-6 in the third set when they blocked four straight Kansas attacks on a single point, with the Sooners eventually earning the kill.
That dominance at the net spurred Oklahoma on an extended 16-6 run to take the third set. Coach Ray Bechard attributed the Sooners’ win to Jayhawk errors.
“In sets two and three we had 20 of them (errors),” Bechard said. That continues to be a little bit of a bugaboo for us. Unforced errors from the attack standpoint put us in a little bit of a bind at times.”
Instead of wilting, however, Kansas began the fourth set with a block, a service ace, and two kills to open up a 4-1 lead. Carmichael notched seven kills in the set, including three of the team’s final five points.
Sophomore outside hitter Sara McClinton had four kills in the set and freshman outside hitter Tiana Dockery had three.
The Jayhawks’ offensive balance came from junior setter Erin McNorton, who dished out 54 assists and dug 22 balls. She already had a double-double midway through the second set.
Junior libero Brianne Riley also contributed a career-high 43 kills, helping Kansas get in-system quickly on its offensive attack.
“Cat made it really easy with her 18 kills,” McNorton said. “There was one point in the game where the coaches told me ‘Keep setting Cat until I tell you to stop.’”
Carmichael continued her hitting streak in the fifth set, recording three of the Jayhawks’ first six points. Kansas continued their tradition of starting fast in the fifth set, opening leads of 5-0 and 8-1.
The Sooners closed the gap to 11-8, but Carmichael responded with another kill to push the lead back to four points. Jarmoc’s kill closed out the Sooners 15-11 to move its record to 17-2 and 5-0 in conference play, the best start in school history on both accounts.
Kansas next faces the Texas Longhorns in Austin, Tex. Friday at 7:30 p.m.
—Edited by Allison Kohn