MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Despite taking a set from a ranked opponent for the first time this season, the West Virginia University volleyball team fell to No. 24 Kansas 3-1 (25-15, 16-25, 14-25, 17-25), Wednesday in a midweek matchup at the WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers (8-10, 0-5 Big 12) were victorious in the first set for the second match in a row versus a Big 12 opponent before the Jayhawks (15-2, 3-0 Big 12) swept the next three sets to take the match.
“One of the things that we always talk about going into a match is leaving a good first impression with a team,” coach Jill Kramer says. “It is everybody’s first time to Morgantown this year and when we go on the road, it is the first time those teams see us as a Big 12 school. It is important to us that we make a good first impression and a lot of that has to do with how hard we work and the types of effort that we give throughout the match. Although we did not come up with the ‘W,’ I feel like we left a good first impression with Kansas.”
The two teams traded points to begin the first set until kills from freshman outside hitter Nikki Attea
and a service ace from junior outside hitter Elzbieta Klein
put WVU up 10-6. The lead expanded off another service ace, this time from Attea, before Kansas used a 3-0 run to close the gap.
After a WVU timeout, Klein put up two more kills as the Mountaineers capitalized on Jayhawk attack errors to take a 19-13 lead and forced Kansas to call its second timeout. A 6-0 serving run by freshman setter Brittany Sample
kept the momentum in WVU’s direction as a kill by Sample ended the match at 25-15.
“We did a lot of good things at the service line in the first set,” Kramer says. “That was one of the better serving performances that we have had all year. This Kansas team is averaging half a reception error a set. They had eight on the match, which is two a set and that is a good thing. Serving tough is something that we have been working on all year. I am proud of our effort tonight.”
A balanced attack by the Jayhawks gave Kansas an early 8-4 lead in the second set before back-to-back kills from Attea and Klein stopped the momentum. Multiple attack errors by WVU stretched the lead for Kansas until a kill and two service aces from sophomore middle blocker Evyn McCoy
pulled the Mountaineers back into the set. The Jayhawks would not let the set slip away and used two straight blocks to end the set in their favor and tie the match 1-1.
The strong ending to the second set led the Jayhawks to take an early 5-0 lead in the third set, which forced Kramer to use her first timeout. Klein would put WVU on the board as it slowly chipped away at the lead until a service ace and kills from Caroline Jarmoc put Kansas up 15-6. The Mountaineers could not overcome the deficit as a kill from Tayler Tolefree ended the set 25-14.
WVU came out strong with a service ace from Sample and kill from McCoy to start the fourth set. The match was kept close until a serving run from Brianne Riley gave Kansas a 17-9 lead. A kill from Attea and two blocks from Attea and McCoy would pull the match within four, but the Mountaineers never got any closer as the Jayhawks took the set and the match with a final block from Tolefree.
Attea led the Mountaineers with 14 kills while also posting three blocks. Defensively, freshman libero Anna Panagiotakopoulos
and junior defensive specialist Liz Gulick
each recorded 14 digs.
WVU continues its homestand when the team welcomes its last non-conference foe, Duquesne, on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 4 p.m., at the WVU Coliseum.
“The game against Duquesne is a good time for us to work on things offensively that we have started to add tonight,” Kramer says. “Tonight, I saw us start to do some things that we have worked on this week in practice and implement them into a match after just doing them one time, with only one day in the gym. I am really looking forward to working on that versus Duquesne. There is a lot of different ways we can improve.”