Austin, Texas No. 2-ranked Texas put an abrupt end to the best start in Kansas University volleyball history.
After opening the season on a 19-match winning streak, the No. 7-ranked Jayhawks fell to the Longhorns, 25-16, 25-19, 25-14, on Friday at Gregory Gymnasium.
“If this motivates the team to create more opportunities to improve in practice, then it would be a learning opportunity,” Kansas coach Ray Bechard said. “Simply to come in and experience this and not change the way we are going about our business wouldn’t be productive, so we are hoping that’s the case.”
It was the first top-10 pairing between two Big 12 teams since 2010.
Kansas (19-1 overall, 7-1 Big 12) recorded a season-low .155 hitting percentage. Texas (18-1, 8-0) attacked at a .336 rate — the first time an KU opponent hit over .250 this season.
Sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne led the Jayhawks with 10 kills on a .391 hitting percentage. UT outside hitters Paulina Prieto Cerame (16 kills) and Amy Neal (14) combined for 30 of the Longhorns’ 48-kill output.
Kansas led the Big 12 in aces per set entering the match, but that aggressive service game didn’t pay off in the first set. The Jayhawks recorded five service errors on the way to a 25-16 first-set loss. Kansas cut its deficit to two points, 11-9, after a kill from sophomore Madison Rigdon, but another service error from KU opened the gates for a 9-4 Texas run. The 25-16 decision marked the first time Kansas lost an opening set since August 29 at Arkansas.
To open the second set, Payne, an Austin native, lifted Kansas to an early five-point lead by accounting for all six points — five kills and a block-assist — during a 6-1 run to begin the set. Kansas maintained its lead with the help of five blocks in the second set alone. Rigdon tooled off a Texas block for one of her seven kills on the night to give Kansas a five-point KU lead in the second set, 17-12.
But Texas responded with a 13-2 run to close the set, 25-19, and head into intermission with a two-set advantage.
Kansas kept pace with Texas to a 10-10 tie to begin the third set before Texas clinched the match with a 25-14 victory in the final set.
Kansas will travel Wednesday night to Iowa State. Match time is 6 p.m., and it will be televised on ESPNU.