Kansas knocked off Samford by a 3-0 count in the first round of NCAA Tournament play at the Horejsi Center on the campus of Kansas University.
The final score is fairly deceptive, as the Bulldogs came to play and gave Kansas all they could handle. Ray Bechard would later describe KU’s effort as “disinterested.”
In the first set, Samford hung around to a 12-12 tie before the Jayhawks ran off six points in a row to take an 18-12 lead. The teams began exchanging points again and KU finished off Set 1, 25-19.
Set 2 began very well for the Jayhawks, win Kansas jumping out to a 6-1 lead. Samford would not be broken, however, and got themselves back into it to trail the Jayhawks but just two points at 13-11. Kansas clung to a 22-21 lead late, but rattle off three in a row to take the set, 25-21.
Set 3 was where things got really interesting. Kansas fell behind quickly, 6-2 and 10-5. This, apparently, made the Jayhawks angry. Like, really angry. Other teams won’t like the Jayhawks when they’re angry. Kansas went on a torrid 15-3 run, taking a 20-13 lead, and cruising from there to a 25-17 win.
During that 15-3 Kansas run in the third set, four different players had kills: Madison Rigdon (1), Kelsie Payne (2), Tayler Soucie (2), Jada Burse (4).
They Said It
With KU leading 22-21 in the Set 2, coach Ray Bechard called for a timeout.
Bechard recalled his comments in the postgame:
"I said get to 25 first, let's go. I just think at that point we were disinterested, we didn't look like we were very engaged. We had a lead early in that set and really could have put the pressure on them and that was probably the most disappointed I was in the match tonight.
That set was in doubt, in the balance and there was no reason for that. I told them we have to play like we want to beat Creighton and beyond, so let's compete like that, and they responded well."
Per Jesse Newell, Samford coach Keylor Chan was brutally honest following the game when asked if it was difficult to find KU’s weaknesses:
“No, they definitely have them. They do. As they move on in the tournament, they’re going to get exposed, and I think we did the best we could with what we had. But I think that they have some serve reception issues, and I think they have some middle-hitter issues that will be pretty glaring when they get to some teams that can really exploit them. Kansas is very talented. They very much are. But they definitely have some things you can pick on, and we just couldn’t do it well enough tonight.”
I guess someone forgot to tell Texas (who finished second to Kansas in the Big 12) that KU has weaknesses that can be exploited.
Actually, he’s not wrong, but this is pretty much every team - especially in volleyball - with the way the players rotate around the court.
Regardless, this will surely serve as some additional #Motivation, particularly for the player(s?) to whom he’s referring. Coach Chan may have just inadvertently put Creighton into a heap of trouble.
Kansas will take on Creighton, who won a five-set thriller over Northern Iowa in the early match Friday afternoon. First serve is slated for 6:30 Jayhawk time.
NCAA.com is streaming the entire tournament. You can get to any matchup you want to see by finding it on the interactive bracket. Matches should also be available on ESPN3 through the WatchESPN app or the WatchESPN website. No blackouts should apply.
Alternatively, you can always listen to radio play-by-play at KUAthletics.com/radio. Fans can also monitor the action by following @KUVolleyball on Twitter and Instagram.