Tucson, Ariz. Kansas University outhit and outdug Central Arkansas, but the Sugar Bears claimed a four-set volleyball victory over the Jayhawks in the season opener for both teams Friday at the Arizona Invitational.
No. 20-ranked Kansas hit .232 to the Bears’ .202 and had 76 digs to Central Arkansas’ 70, but KU suffered a 21-25, 25-16, 24-26, 24-26 setback.
“They made winning volleyball plays at the end and were aggressive,” KU coach Ray Bechard said. “We were tentative at times in the third and fourth sets, and that was the difference. Stats are important, and we monitor all that, but game-winning plays at the end of sets are more important. Let’s give them credit; they did a great job of that.”
Central Arkansas was one of seven teams in the NCAA to win 30 matches last year.
KU fifth-year senior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc had 19 kills, including six in the third set and seven in the fourth, while junior outside hitter Chelsea Albers chalked up a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs.
Senior setter Erin McNorton dished 49 assists to pace the offense, and fellow senior Brianne Riley had a team-high 18 digs, making her one of four Jayhawks to tally double-digit digs in the loss.
In her first appearance as a Jayhawk, red-shirt freshman middle blocker Janae Hall registered eight kills and just one error for the best attack percentage of the match at .368.
None of their efforts, however, could offset a combined 42 kills from UCA’s Jessica Nagy (17), Heather Schnars (13) and Paige Gantar (12).
Libero Shelbee Berringer may have had the biggest hand in the win, offsetting numerous Jayhawk attacks with 29 digs.
Kansas, which hadn’t lost a season opener since the 2009 season, will meet Morgan State at 2:30 p.m. today and host Arizona in tonight’s prime-time match at 9.