Kansas volleyball sweeps Texas State, all of its matches in the Jayhawk Classic

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World photo

Kansas junior Ayah Elnady is jubilant after winning a point during the Jayhawk Classic match against Texas State at Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023.

In the final game of the weekend’s Jayhawk Classic, Kansas volleyball beat Texas State 3-0 on Saturday to complete its sweep of the entire tournament.

The matchup finished off KU’s pre-conference schedule; the Jayhawks will begin Big 12 play on Friday in Lubbock against Texas Tech.

Ayah Elnady and London Davis led the Jayhawks with 13 kills each, with each of them tallying five kills in the second set alone. Meanwhile, Reagan Cooper placed third on the team with seven kills and recorded her 100th kill as a Jayhawk. Sophomore setter Camryn Turner continued to lead the offense, racking up 35 assists and two kills.

“London and Cam, they can go through it, I think, in their sleep,” head coach Ray Bechard said. “(Turner)’s been great with Toy (Toyosi Onabanjo) and Mykayla (Myers) and Cooper. Cam gets them in some really good situations.”

Kansas got off to a 3-0 start in the first game of its third and final match of this weekend’s tournament. The Bobcats sprinkled in a few points of their own before recording back-to-back attack errors and falling behind 8-3, forcing their first timeout of the match.

The match grew tighter after that, as Texas State got within two after an attack error by graduate middle blocker Myers. The game remained tight as the teams traded points, with junior middle blocker Onabanjo proving an offensive force for the Jayhawks. After an ace, the Bobcats’ first block and a few well-placed kills, Texas State tied the game at 14. Two big kills by Elnady and a big block by Onabanjo got the Jayhawks back in front by three. After the teams traded blows, Turner’s first kill came on a big point, as she put down an overpass to make it 20-17 as Kansas closed in on a first-set victory.

Elnady and the junior opposite Davis stepped on the gas, recording two kills apiece to get to set point, and Davis finished the first game off with a kill down the line.

Elnady led the team in kills after the first set with six while Davis sat just behind her with four. The two of them kept it going in set two, recording the first two points for the Jayhawks on consecutive kills. After KU started on a 5-0 run, Texas State called a timeout in an effort to slow down the Jayhawks. Elnady and Davis were still the only players to record a kill in the set as the lead ballooned to seven, and they sat at eight and seven kills in the match, respectively.

“London was great all weekend, and it’s about matchups,” Bechard said. “When they defensively try to take away Toy or Mykayla, that opens up some things for London and she’ll take complete advantage of that.”

Turner was the first player outside of Elnady and Davis to record a kill in the second set; her second kill of the match cemented an 11-4 lead for the Jayhawks. From there the Bobcats tightened the match, but a powerful kill by Cooper got Kansas back to a comfortable five-point lead. A fantastic save by Turner and an assist by freshman libero Raegan Burns led to a shot down the line by Elnady to make it 19-12. Texas State then called another timeout, which wouldn’t stop the Jayhawks, as they fought through a few errors to win the set 25-17.

After starting the third set neck-and-neck, Kansas was able to get out to an 8-3 lead, forcing a timeout by the Bobcats. Davis then got her first kill of the third set to make it 13-7, starting a four-point run by the Jayhawks which included two more kills from her.

“We just work on, you know, trying to read the other team’s defense and I think it was just really working for us,” Davis said about her performance. “You know, I was hitting the shot that works and just kept going at it, and our coaches were just saying ‘Just keep going until it stops working.'”

Both Davis and Bechard noted the importance of the team’s defensive depth as it relates to their early success in the season.

“It’s one of our strengths, absolutely, to have some of that flexibility in changing our serve receive patterns, changing our defensive patterns back there,” Bechard said. “The defensive specialist libero group is very deep and very qualified.”

After an unsuccessful challenge by Texas State, the Jayhawks took an 18-9 lead, as the Bobcats called another timeout. That tactic did not work, as the Jayhawks immediately extended their lead to 22-9, easily winning the final set of the game 25-12 on a hit to the middle of the floor by sophomore outside Rhian Swanson.

Bechard offered his thoughts on the team’s performance heading into conference play: “As we get into Big 12 play, there’ll be more physicality,” he said. “We’ll have to tighten some things up, but I like where we’re at right now in the pre-conference schedule.”


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