As the Jayhawks close out their season with a loss on the road to their conference foe, the West Virginia Mountaineers, the team ends its run at 9-17. Although the record doesn’t indicate a season filled with promise and well-played games, Kansas played much better than the record shows at various times in the year.
The Jayhawks stunned the crowd and played much better than previously expected of them. In their more recent matchups against Iowa State and the No. 2 Texas Longhorns, the team put up a fight, even though the season was nearly over.
In its last home match of the season, Kansas enjoyed the Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena home court advantage in a heartfelt senior night celebration. Seniors, such as senior middle blocker Zoe Hill and senior libero Allie Nelson, were playing for their final time at home, and they wanted to put on a show.
Down 2-0 early in the match, all hope had seemed lost for Kansas, as it was one set away from dropping the match and traveling on the road empty handed. But the Jayhawks had other plans. The team mounted a comeback, winning three straight sets, each of which was a tight battle.
Kansas went on a hitting spree in the contest. Redshirt senior outside hitter Ashley Smith led the team to victory with a game-high 20 kills, followed by 19 by freshman outside hitter Morgan Christon.
Against the No. 2 team in the country, the Jayhawks went to Austin, Texas, where they came in as considerable underdogs. Although the team didn’t complete the impossible and steal a game from the Longhorns, it did show some fight that should not go unnoticed.
After already being swept by Texas at home earlier in the season, Kansas went to Austin taking the first set from a team that had only lost three sets at home before that.
This stat in itself is something to brag about, as a team so highly ranked should not be giving up sets to a team that is clearly the underdog. But the Jayhawks were able to fight through adversity and show the doubters that they have what it takes to compete with any team they go up against.
Smith led the squad again, as she totaled 16 kills followed by Christon with 11 of her own. As both of these players have shown their leadership in their last stretch of the season, the Jayhawks will miss the hitting and talent that Smith brought to Kansas' young core. The team will look to develop Christon in upcoming seasons, so she can lead the team in Smith's place.
As both these games showcased, the team has been able to fight through adversity when the odds are stacked against them. Although the record wasn’t quite what Kansas had in mind when the season started, the Jayhawks are in good hands for the seasons ahead.
The team’s future is now in the hands of its up-and-comers. With key contributors like Christon, sophomore outside hitter Camryn Ennis, and freshman middle blocker Gracie Van Driel returning, the Jayhawks will look to take a step forward next season.