Wednesday, November 27, 2019

KU volleyball comes from behind to defeat Iowa State 3-2 on senior night

Kansas senior middle blocker Zoe Hill hugs head coach Ray Bechard on KU volleyball's senior night. KU defeated Iowa State 3-2 (25-14, 25-23, 25-22, 26-24, 15-12) on Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Kansas senior middle blocker Zoe Hill hugs head coach Ray Bechard on KU volleyball's senior night. KU defeated Iowa State 3-2 (25-14, 25-23, 25-22, 26-24, 15-12) on Wednesday, Nov. 27.


Sending its veterans out on a high note, Kansas volleyball on Wednesday celebrated senior night with a 3-2 (25-14, 25-23, 25-22, 26-24, 15-12) victory over Iowa State.

"Really happy for the resolve that these girls showed tonight and the plays they made down the stretch," KU coach Ray Bechard said. "It was a big deal.”

Before the match, four KU seniors — Libero Allie Nelson, middle blocker Zoe Hill, outside hitter Ashley Smith and libero Jacqui Mostrom — were recognized for the Jayhawks’ senior night. Iowa State senior Josie Herbst was also recognized as it was her last match at Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena as well.

“We’ve been through everything under the sun," Nelson said. "College volleyball is hard, man. Getting the chance to celebrate with them is so unreal. I love them so much.”

As for the match itself, it came down to pure resilience for KU as the Jayhawks had to overcome a 2-0 match lead from Iowa State.

The first set started out tightly contested — a theme that would last throughout the match. Both the Jayhawks and Cyclones traded points to an 8-8 tie before Iowa State jumped out to a 12-8 lead, forcing a KU timeout.

At this point in the set, there were eight ties and two lead changes. But Iowa State turned the corner and continued to stretch the lead. Once the lead stretched past 8 points, the Cyclones were able to close it out for a 25-14 set victory.

The second set proved to be even more of a slugfest, with 17 ties and eight lead changes. Once again both sides traded points, but this time it was the Jayhawks who were able to find an advantage early on.

KU jumped out to a 15-14 lead over Iowa State, forcing a timeout from the Cyclones. This stretched to a 20-15 lead thanks to a 6-1 run from the Jayhawks, with momentum steadily building for KU.

However, the Cyclones fought back to cut the Jayhawks’ lead to 20-18, forcing another timeout from Bechard. And once Iowa State regained the lead at 21-20, KU was once again forced back to the drawing board.

Finally, a service ace from Iowa State freshman Michal Schuler proved to be the difference and secured the 25-23 set victory and 2-0 match lead for the Cyclones.

“(At that point) I’m just saying, ‘We’re down 2-0, let’s see what we’re made of," Bechard said. "'Are we going to stick our nose right back in there and stay true to our training?’ And they did.”

The Jayhawks still put up a fight, though, as an early 11-9 KU lead in the third set forced an Iowa State timeout. KU extended that to a 19-16 lead, albeit with some controversy.

An attack error from Iowa State junior Candelaria Herrera was challenged by Iowa State but was ultimately upheld after a long discussion between the Cyclones’ coaching staff and the referee.

Regardless of that ruling, Iowa State did manage to tie the set back up at 19, leaving the Cyclones within striking distance. But the Jayhawks had just enough to take the third set 25-22, thanks to a kill by freshman outside hitter Morgan Christon.

The momentum kept building into the fourth set, as KU stormed to a 20-12 lead. But once Iowa State went on an 8-1 run to cut the lead to 21-20, the Jayhawks had to regroup once again.

But KU rallied, and an attack error from Schuler secured the fourth set for KU 26-24. And, more importantly, tied the match at 2.

“We don’t give up," Nelson said. "We’ve had an up-and-down season, obviously, but right now we’re in a mode where we’re going straight up. And it’s great to see.”

That momentum carried on through to the decisive fifth set, as KU held on for a 15-12 victory and sealed the come-from-behind win.

“I just think we’re moving in a really good direction," Bechard said. "A win against a really, really good team late in the year speaks well of the direction we’re trying to go. And how bought in this team is.”

After playing in her final home match, Nelson said she's grateful for the opportunity to represent KU volleyball.

“These have been the best four years of my life," Nelson said. "I’ve gained so many sisters, best friends, bridesmaids. I would not trade this for the world."

KU will finish the regular season with a road match against West Virginia on Saturday.


David Kelley-Wood 1 year, 9 months ago

Great comeback win! Way to go, Jayhawks, and best wishes to the seniors. Also, as someone who listens to the radio broadcasts, a big thanks to Nick Springer for all of his super game calls.

Bville Hawk 1 year, 9 months ago

A very nice win over a good team. We came out soooo flat in the 1st set I was certain we were going to get swept, but we seemed to gain confidence as the match went on in spite of losing the 2nd set after being up 19-15. Our back row defense got noticeably better about halfway thru the 3rd set. If you look at the stats it's hard to see how we won, ISU was better in every category, but there is only one stat that counts.

Kudos to Ennis for delivering the back set to Hickman for the kill and the win of set 4 when we were struggling for points. It was the turning point in my mind.

Bville Hawk 1 year, 9 months ago

And kudos also to Hickman for having the confidence to put it away!

David Robinett 1 year, 9 months ago

I was looking for our season record and place in the big 12. Should’ve been there in a story about the last home game of the season I would think.

Bville Hawk 1 year, 9 months ago

David, Tom Keegan seemed to annoy a lot a readers but in my opinion the LJW did a much better job of coverage when he was in charge of Sports. He also wrote a column almost every day, sometimes fact based and sometimes just straight opinion to stir the pot, regardless he was much more prolific than anyone on the current staff.

Layne Pierce 1 year, 9 months ago

Amazingly we will finish ahead of West Virginia and KState and TCU, and just behind TTech. Oh what might have been, if Ennis had been playing early on, and Hickman, Carrier and VanDriel had been used correctly.

This was a great win, now let's get our first conference road win of the season at WVA.

Bville, you and I know that Ennis is the only player on the team right now, who could get a triple-double. She had 11 kills, 12 digs and 10 assists, including the big one to Hickman in the 4th set. Spread the wealth around and use Ennis's ability to set also. We have been saying it all year. Maybe somebody finally got the message.


Bville Hawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Layne, I hadn't noticed that Ennis had a triple double, good catch. I agree with everything you say.

I am still bitter that our coaching staff was too stubborn, ignorant, arrogant (I don't know what) that they only played Ennis a point or 2 here and there thru the first 13 matches of the season and made us and the team suffer thru a stretch where we lost 19 or 21 sets (if my memory serves me correctly).

In match 14 of the season Ennis is inserted permanently in the lineup as a 6 position player and we immediately start winning sets and matches again and are a noticeably better and more competitive team. If our coaches are that bad at judging talent they should move on to another line of work. Seriously. You and I saw it early on, why couldn't they?

AD Jeff Long, I haven't seen you at a VB match all season long (do you dress incognito?)? I think you need to take a hard look at this VB coaching staff after the season. Incompetent may or may not be too harsh a word to describe our staff.

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