VBSider 12/1/22

Kansas super-senior middle blocker Rachel Langs attempts to block the ball during Kansas' match against Miami on Dec. 1.

After missing her— final— senior day against Iowa State on Nov. 19 due to illness, super-senior middle blocker Rachel Langs’ return to the court on Thursday was key to a Kansas win. 

Back in the starting lineup, Langs led the Jayhawks with four blocks in the first set while placing second in kills with three. Her fourth block of the first game won Kansas set one, 25-17.

“With this being a tournament game and everything, that means more. And with me being a senior, this could have been my last game tonight,” Langs said. “I stayed really focused at practice this week and then really tried to stick to the scouting report during the game.”

Langs’ defensive prowess which was well-featured in-season continued in this postseason match, as she racked up six blocks by the end of the second set alone: putting her at an average of three blocks per set for the game. With this 10-block performance, Langs matched her career high and set a new record for herself in a single game of the NCAA Tournament.

A top-conference finisher in blocks per set, placed 8th with 1.08, Langs was not the only defensive powerhouse featured in Thursday’s win. Season total blocks leader, graduate student middle blocker Lauren Dooley, super-senior opposite Anezka Szabo, and sophomore setter Camryn Turner each added three blocks to Langs’ performance.

“[Szabo, Langs, and Turner] those are veteran kids and I know they want good things to happen as the season comes to its finale, whenever that is,” Coach Ray Bechard said.

In the third set, a huge Szabo block after a long rally in the third set put Kansas only five points away from a clean sweep of the Hurricanes. Directly after this, Langs scored her eighth block of the game, and then a shared block with Turner in the next point. This set of events shifted both confidence and momentum in the Jayhawks’ favor, and they would not look back, winning the third set 25-20 and sweeping the Hurricanes out of the NCAA tournament. 

After ranking only 67th in total blocks against 46th-ranked Miami among all Division I schools in the 2022 season, this defensive power was unexpected from Kansas.