Kansas versus Duke: a storyline that would generally be associated with basketball played out in volleyball in Horejsi Center on Friday night.
The game went back and forth for the duration of each set, but Kansas (5-0) pulled through each time, defeating Duke (3-2) in three sets (25-17, 25-18, 25-23). The win marked coach Ray Bechard's 300th win while at Kansas.
After two solid wins in the first two sets, the Jayhawks had a harder time putting away the Blue Devils in the third set. Duke never led Kansas by more than two points, but Kansas didn't take a large lead either. Kansas' biggest lead of the third set was early on when the Jayhawks were up 4-1.
"The third set was a bit of a struggle, but we found a way to get some things going late against a good team," coach Ray Bechard said. "I really liked the offensive balance. The kids game planned extremely well."
That offensive balance was maintained by senior outside hitter Tiana Dockery, sophomore right side hitter Kelsie Payne, sophomore outside hitter Madison Rigdon, junior middle blocker Tayler Soucie and sophomore setter Ainise Havili.
Payne knocked down 10 kills, Dockery and Rigdon slammed down nine kills apiece and Soucie contributed seven kills to the Jayhawk offense. Havili added 36 assists for Kansas.
"It was a pretty good day for our whole team," Dockery said. "I felt like our team did really well. We kept ourselves together even on some of the down parts during the third game."
Blocks were a major factor against Duke and the defense worked. Kansas limited Duke's attack percentage to .170. For comparison, Kansas' was .333.
The Kansas team as a whole had 15 blocks. Leading the way was junior middle blocker Janae Hall, who recorded five blocks. Payne was right behind her with four blocks.
On the defensive side, junior libero Cassie Wait scrambled for 14 digs.
Next up: Kansas suits up Saturday at 4 p.m. against UMKC to finish out the Kansas Invitational.