The Sweet 16 is even sweeter when you win. And that's just what happened for the No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks as they defeated Loyola Marymount (25-19, 25-11, 21-25, 25-13) to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history.
Sophomore right side hitter Kelsie Payne hammered out 21 kills, sophomore setter Ainise Havili racked up 49 assists and junior libero Cassie Wait posted 23 digs in the win.
Sophomore outside hitter Madison Rigdon added 10 kills and 14 digs. Senior outside hitter Tiana Dockery posted 10 digs.
Set 1: Kansas wins (25-19)
The set was neck and neck up until Kansas led 13-12. A bad set from LMU's Avery Bush paired with an ace from senior defensive specialist Anna Church gave the Jayhawks a 14-12 lead. But the run wasn't over. Sophomore right side hitter Kelsie Payne laid down a kill on the ensuing point, and sophomore outside hitter Madison Rigdon added a kill of her own to put Kansas up 16-12.
LMU fought back with kills from Jamie Lea, Amber Mirabello and Sarah Sponcil, but it wasn't enough as Payne rattled out three kills after Kansas surpassed 21 points.
An attack error from Sponcil closed out the set.
Set 2: Kansas wins (25-11)
To start, the second set was even closer than the first set, as the Jayhawks and the Lions were tied seven times before either team surpassed 10 points. But once Kansas surpassed 10 points, it was over.
The Jayhawks scored nine straight points, seven of them in a row coming off of LMU attack errors.
The final error in the coffin for LMU was a ball handling error from LMU's Hannah Tedrow to give Kansas the set two win.
Set 3: Loyola Marymount wins (25-21)
Just as errors plagued Loyola Marymount in the second set, the same rung true for Kansas in the third set. Counting both attack errors and service errors, Kansas committed 11 errors in the third set.
Kansas rallied late, getting within two points as time dwindled down at 18-20, but it wasn't enough.
Sophomore setter Ainise Havili had her first bad set of the season to end the frame, 25-21.
Set 4: Kansas wins (25-13)
The fourth set didn't get off to the best start for the Jayhawks as Havili went up for a service error. LMU followed suit with a service error of its own. Like the previous frames, the set was tied on multiple occasions early, four times before either team hit 5 points.
Then Kansas went on a run.
The Jayhawks scored four straight points to have an 8-4 lead, thanks to kills from Rigdon and Havili.
LMU pulled closer, getting within two points at 12-10 before Kansas went on another run that gave Kansas an 18-10 lead before LMU's Sponcil came up with a kill.
But once Kansas surpassed 20 points, it was over.
A kill from Rigdon ended the match and finalized the first Sweet 16 win in program history.