The roar of chanting fans filled the Horejsi Family Athletic Center even before the Jayhawks took the court. The noise grew louder and louder throughout the four-set match, but the players tuned it out.
They all had one thing on their minds: winning. Kansas faced Iowa State four weeks ago, and the Cyclones won in a dramatic five-set finish.
This time was different. The Jayhawks were at home; the crowd was on their side.
Kansas (20-7) defeated Iowa State (15-10) in four sets (25,17), (25,23), (20,25), (25,15), extending its win streak to four-straight.
“It was really good to see us earn and grind points late in the fourth set,” coach Ray Bechard said.
Iowa State competed with Kansas in the first set, but never held a lead. Senior outside hitter Sara McClinton led the Jayhawks with seven kills in first installment of play. Freshman setter Ainise Havili recorded 14 assists.
Things got sticky in the second set. Kansas and Iowa State went back and forth multiple times. The lead changed hands six times, and it was tied nine times.
Sophomore middle blocker Taylor Soucie sealed the deal with a kill that tied the set 20-20. Kansas took the lead from there, winning the set 25-23.
“I think our chemistry is better,” Soucie said. “We understand how we all play and what is beneficial to certain players and how to react to each other.”
Kansas fell to Iowa State in the third set 20-25. The Jayhawks started out 4-2, but the Cyclones came charging back with repeated kills from redshirt sophomore outside hitter Morgan Kuhrt and errors by multiple Jayhawks.
Kansas wasn’t out of it though. The Jayhawks were only down 15-17 before Iowa State charged ahead with kills from sophomore outside hitter Ciara Capezio. When Kansas lost the third set, the crowd remained obnoxious, hoping to secure a Jayhawk victory.
Winning the fourth set wasn’t going to be easy. Kansas and Iowa State battled back and forth. Soucie had a pivotal kill, giving the Jayhawks an 8-7 lead. Kansas never looked back and drilled out the rest of the set. Kills by McClinton, a service ace from sophomore setter Maggie Anderson and errors from Iowa State ensured the victory for Kansas.
Iowa State’s Capezio led all players with 16 kills. Kansas’ McClinton wasn’t far behind with 15.
Sophomore libero Cassie Wait led Kansas with 22 digs. Havili chalked up 51 assists and added 12 digs.
Next up for the Jayhawks is a date with No. 3 Texas. The Longhorns are 20-1, with their only loss coming against Oklahoma. The Jayhawks and Longhorns will start the first set at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.
— Edited by Kelsey Phillips