Manhattan Kansas University senior outside hitter Sara McClinton tied her season high with 18 kills against no errors, added a season-high four digs — and converted a rare serve attempt — in the Jayhawks’ 25-22, 25-22, 25-21 sweep of in-state rival Kansas State on Wednesday in Ahearn Fieldhouse.
“I was shocked,” Omaha, Nebraska, outside hitter McClinton joked of her well-executed jump serve. Normally she does not serve in matches. “The thing I’m actually the most proud of is that I got my serve over. I could care less about the 18 kills, I was just happy to get the end-game serve over, in and aggressive,” McClinton added.
The Jayhawks (19-7, 7-5 Big 12), who avenged a home loss to KSU (20-6, 7-5), battled their way back from deficits to take a two-set lead against the No. 23-ranked Wildcats. The final frame, however, saw the Jayhawks take the lead and run with it on their way to the 3-0 victory. It marked KU’s third straight win at KSU and second straight sweep in Manhattan.
“Boy, that was a good 90 minutes,” KU coach Ray Bechard said. “With the exception of just a couple rough spots in each of the first two sets, we played really, really well. Ainise (Havili, 38 assists) made great decisions, and we passed extremely well. The kids had fun, and that was good to see. Even when we fell behind in those first two sets, they didn’t waver, they trusted each other and finished strong.”
Senior Chelsea Albers had eight kills, four assists and a team-high 13 digs. Junior outside hitter Tiana Dockery logged her second-straight double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs. For the match, Kansas committed only 10 attack errors and doubled the Wildcats’ blocking total (10.0/5.0). KSU entered the evening as the second-best blocking team in the league.
Freshman setter Havili led her attackers to a .299 hitting efficiency. She added eight digs and four blocks to her performance. Sophomore middle blockers Tayler Soucie and Janae Hall combined for 10 total blocks.
The victory moved KU into a tie for third place in the Big 12 with KSU. KU will next meet Iowa State at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, in Horejsi Center
• KU swept Kansas State in Manhattan for the fourth time in series history (Nov. 12, 2014; Oct. 2, 2013; Oct. 17, 2009; Sept. 11, 1981). The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 62-41, but the Jayhawks have won five of the last six meetings between the two.
• KU registered its 10th sweep of the year Wednesday. KU has been swept just twice in its last 70 matches (Washington 12/13/13, Penn State 9/13/14).
• With her season-high-tying 18 kills, McClinton is inching toward sixth place on KU’s all-time career kills list. McClinton now has 1,208, trailing Amanda Reves’ 1,264 (1996-99). McClinton is one of two players in the Big 12 with 1,000 career kills (Haley Eckerman, Texas).
• The victory marked KU’s first top-20 RPI win of the season and its second win of the year against a nationally ranked team.