Archive for Sunday, October 31, 2004

Wildcats pound Jayhawks

K-State wins 20th straight over KU

October 31, 2004

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— Kansas University volleyball coach Ray Bechard's stay in Manhattan lasted less than two hours Saturday afternoon, but that still was too long.

"We can't get out of here quick enough," said a disappointed Bechard, whose Jayhawks fell for the 20th straight time to their in-state rivals when No. 18 Kansas State swept Kansas, 3-0 (30-20, 30-19, 30-28), at Ahearn Fieldhouse.

While the Jayhawks pushed the Wildcats to the brink of defeat in a five-game match earlier in October -- before finally falling, 15-12, in Game Five -- there were few shining moments for KU on Saturday.

"Part of the disappointment in our situation is that we let them off the hook in our place when we had the chance," Bechard said. "What you learn from it is that when you have the chance to win at home, you do it, because in this league on people's home court, they're going to be very comfortable. We never really did look comfortable until late in the third match."

By then it was too late for the Jayhawks (13-8 overall, 4-8 Big 12 Conference), because the Wildcats (14-7, 8-4) held control.

Led by senior outside hitter Vali Hejjas, who had a match-high 18 kills, K-State broke open a 19-18 game by outscoring KU, 11-2, for the 30-20 opening win.

The Wildcats' whirlwind of points continued into the second game as KSU opened with a 10-2 lead and cruised to an 11-point victory as it outhit KU .333 to .000.

Even when Kansas finally found a way to equalize Kansas State's speedy pace in the final game, the Wildcats had just enough crucial plays -- or calls -- to complete the sweep.

KU seemed to take control of the third game when Ashley Michaels nailed an unreturned serve that deflected off a Wildcat player and out of bounds.

However, Hejjas, in an attempt to dive for the loose ball, ran into the back line judge near the boundary line. Both fell, and after a short discussion between the other officials, the KU point was taken off the board because it was ruled the line judge impeded Hejjas' progress.

Bechard thought the ball was unreachable.

"You can't help but wonder if it affected the outcome," said Michaels, who along with Josi Lima led the Jayhawks with seven kills each. "It was a real critical point in the game, and without that call things might have changed, but you have to learn how to move past calls like that."

The Wathena native did, coming up with a block that gave KU a 28-27 lead. But after a KU service error, the Wildcats closed the door with two quick points and an ace.

The Wildcats' winning streak dates to Nov. 16, 1994.

"When we played them at home and were so close, we were like, 'We can play with these guys,''' Michaels said. "Then we come down here and lose 3-0, and it's definitely a setback."

KU will travel Wednesday to Missouri.

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