KU sweeps Oregon in NCAA tourney

Photo courtesy KANSAS UNIVERSITY

The Kansas University volleyball team celebrates Thursday’s three-set sweep of Oregon in the first round of the NCAA Division I Tournament at at D.J. Sokol Arena in Omaha, Neb.

OMAHA, Neb. (KU) — The Kansas University volleyball team cruised to an opening-round win Thursday in the NCAA Tournament at D.J. Sokol Arena, topping Oregon in straight sets, 25-21, 25-21, 25-22 to advance to the Round of 32.

The Lady Jayhawks, who never once trailed against Oregon, were to continue play late Friday against 14th-seeded Creighton. The Lady Blue Jays swept Ole Miss in the nightcap.

Kansas was dominant throughout, led by Caroline Bien, who was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year this week. Bien had a team-high 13 kills to go with nine digs.

Caroline Crawford collected 12 kills, four blocks and a pair of digs. Camryn Turner had 30 assists and 11 digs, while Jenny Mosser had 10 kills and eight digs. Kennedy Farris led all Lady Jayhawks with 17 digs.

“It looked like some pretty high-level volleyball from the Jayhawks,” KU coach Ray Bechard said. “We’ve been playing pretty well as of late, and the pass and serve game was good, and we had a good scouting report. Certainly, the Jayhawks stepped up communication tonight.”

Kansas jumped out to a 6-3 lead before the Lady Ducks eventually knotted the score 9-9.

That was the last time the Lady Jayhawks didn’t lead the rest of the set, winning the next three points to go up 12-9.

Kansas then led 15-10, 17-11, 21-14 and 23-16 before closing it out with a kill from Crawford.

The Lady Jayhawks again jumped out to an early lead in the second set, going up 6-3 off an ace from Crawford. A close battle ensued from there with Oregon closing it to one at 12-11. But Kansas won the next two points to go up 14-11 and keep the lead.

The Lady Ducks fought back and pulled to within one at 17-16, but Kansas won the next four points to go up 21-16 and take control. From there, the Jayhawks led 24-19 before Oregon won two straight points to get it to 24-21. But an Oregon service error gave the set to the Jayhawks for a 2-0 lead.

The third set was more of the same with a tight start, but Oregon was never able to take a lead and the Jayhawks stayed out in front after an early 6-6 tie.

Leading 17-13, Oregon won three straight points to get it to a one-point set. But Bechard called a timeout to regroup and it worked.

Kansas won the next four points to go up 21-16. Oregon won the next three to get it to 21-19, but Crawford came up with a kill to get it to 22-19. Leading 24-22, an attack error from Oregon gave Kansas the final point of the match to secure its three-set victory.

“It was a joy to watch,” Bechard said. “We talked a little bit about pressure the last two weekends where we had to win to get in the tournament. Why would we worry about pressure now? I told them to go enjoy it. Very few teams get to experience this. I think the vibe has been really good since our name was put on the board.”

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