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Kansas Jayhawks Volleyball vs Baylor Recap: KU clinches outright Big 12 title

Kansas wins in 5 sets to finish off the regular season with another win.

KU Volleyball 2015 Final Four
KU Volleyball 2015 Final Four

Kansas came into today already owning a share of the Big 12 Conference Title. Unfortunately, there was no national TV to watch this match on, so I had to use the radio and Twitter. Thanks again to Kansas Volleyball’s Twitter (@KUVolleyball) for the help with the recap.

Coming into the match, Kansas was preparing to try and shut down the Big 12-leading junior Katie Staiger, who came into the match with 5.58 kills per set and 6.14 points per set.

First Set:

The Jayhawks welcomed back Junior Kelsie Payne to the lineup, who was out the last match recovering from a high ankle sprain:

Kansas got out to a hot start with their defense:

Jada Burse came on strong for the Jayhawks against Iowa State. She continued her hot streak in the beginning of the set:

Payne finally made her presence known just before the halfway mark:

Baylor went on a bit of a run to get closer at 12-11, but Kansas quickly came back with 3 points of their own to go the media timeout up 15-12:

Kansas got the first two points after the break, leading to a Baylor timeout. However, sloppy play allowed Baylor to claw back into the match:

But the Kansas blocking effort got things back on track:

The first set was filled with sloppy play, as the defense made up for numerous attacking errors and service errors by the Jayhawks.

Second Set:

Baylor jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, but Kansas battled back to tie it at 4. The teams traded a few points before Kansas started to pull away:

Kansas again traded points going into the media timeout:

The Jayhawks started to pull away thanks to this point on a long rally:

The Jayhawks finished off the set on a 7-2 run, including the set point on another long rally:

The defense was absolutely dominant, as evidenced by a negative hitting percentage.

Third Set:

Kansas got the first point of the set on a big kill by Burse, but two errors and a Baylor block gave the Bears an early lead. After that, it was a bit of a battle back and forth:

They continued to trade points, with Baylor taking a 7-6 lead on a monster spike by Baylor’s Aniah Philo. A Baylor service error was followed by a Kansas service ace before another Philo kill tied it up at 8. The two teams traded kills back and forth before a Baylor block gave them the lead at 11-10.

The teams traded back and forth again until Jada Burse got the lead back for the Jayhawks again at 13-12. Burse dominated to this point during the third set:

Baylor won the next two points to go into the media timeout up 15-14. Kansas got the first point coming out of the timeout, but Baylor kicked into another gear after that:

That stop was only momentary, as Baylor won the next 2 points, forcing Kansas Coach Ray Bechard to try and stop the bleeding:

Unfortunately, not even that worked, as Baylor won the next 4 points to finish off the set.

Kansas seemed to lose their legs sometime in the middle of the set, and Baylor star Staigler started heating up to keep the Bears from getting swept.

Fourth Set:

Jada Burse started off the fourth set with another kill. Baylor won the second point on a challenge, where Maggie Anderson spiked a ball out of bounds but the original call was that it was deflected off the blocker. Instead, the review gave the point to the Bears.

Burse kept up the pressure on the Baylor defense:

Baylor pulled into a 3-3 tie, then the Jayhawks picked up 3 straight points, including this point that stood after Baylor challenged, looking for a net violation:

Baylor got two straight points, with Kansas challenging the second on a suspected net violation. The call stood, and Kansas only led 6-5. The teams battled back and forth again, with neither team getting ahead by more than a single point:

A set error by Morgan Reed of Baylor gave Kansas an 11-9 lead, and they took off from there, pushing the lead to 13-9. Baylor called a timeout, which helped them to reel in the Jayhawks a bit at 15-13, but the lead would fluctuate between 2 and 5 points the rest of the match. Two big Baylor service errors killed the Baylor momentum, and Kansas was able to capitalize by trading points.

Just when it looked like Kansas was going to put the match away, Baylor went on a mini run and tied up the set at 21. Kansas called a timeout, and for some reason the Baylor staff played “Sandstorm” over the PA. Unfortunately, it worked, as Baylor took the next two points and Kansas called another timeout.

Unfortunately, the second timeout didn’t help either, as Baylor scored two of the next three points to take the 4th set.

The inability to finish out the match in this set was pretty disappointing.

Fifth Set:

Coming into the match, Kansas had played in 2 prior Senior Days. Both of them went to 5 sets as well, but Kansas won. The Jayhawks entered the set looking to continue the streak.

Kansas started the fifth set with a net violation, before Kelsie Payne tied it at 1 with a forceful kill. Baylor second point came by way of another Kansas error and then got another Katie Staiger kill to go up 3-1. Taylor Soucie brought the Jayhawks back within 1:

Burse got another kill to go up 4-3 before Baylor tied it up. Again, Kansas started to go on another mini run, forcing Baylor into calling a timeout:

So once again, Kansas took a small lead into the second half of a set, trying to hold on to win the match:

After the switch, Baylor’s Philo got another kill, but Madison Rigdon and Kelsie Payne combined to push the lead to 5:

Payne pushed the set to match point:

And finally:

It was frustrating at times, but at last the Jayhawks finished off the match and claimed the outright title.


This win was hugely important for the Jayhawks, as they needed to clinch the outright title in order to earn the Big 12’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. Since Texas won in 4 sets in Austin and Kansas won in 5 sets in Lawrence, if they had split the title, Texas would win the tiebreaker of most set wins in head to head matchups. That would likely lead to Texas getting the higher seed and potentially the easier road back to the NCAA Semifinals. Since the Big 12 does not have a conference tournament, this was the last chance to impress the committee to try and improve the Jayhawks’ seed.

Kansas finished off the season going undefeated in both October and November, the best finish in program history.

Up next for the Jayhawks is the NCAA Selection Show tomorrow at 8pm on ESPNU. It is expected that Kansas will host the first and second rounds, with their games played on either Thursday Dec 1st and Friday Dec 2nd, or on Friday and Saturday, Dec 3rd.