LAWRENCE – Junior outside hitter Jada Burse’s 22nd kill of the match put a stamp on a Kansas volleyball upset of No.4 Texas, 3-1 (25-18,28-26, 20-25, 25-23), Wednesday night inside Horejsi Family Athletics Center.
The Jayhawks (12-4, 5-0 Big 12) made history defeating a top-five Longhorn (10-4, 5-1 Big 12) team for the first time in program history and marking just the sixth victory over UT in 48 meetings. The win also extended KU’s winning streak to eight-straight victories, keeping Kansas as the only undefeated team in Big 12 play. In addition, the loss was Texas’ first in conference play since the 2016 season.
Kansas finally got off to the quick start they needed, winning the first set of the match for the first time since league play started. Senior setter/right-side hitter Gabby Simpson led the Jayhawk offense in that set with a 7-0 serving run, notching two aces in the process – her highest of the season.
KU rode that momentum to take a 2-0 lead, however, several key Texas serves late in the third set ended any hope of a sweep. The Jayhawks trailed by as many as six points in the fourth set and battled late to tie it up 18-18. KU took its first lead of the set off of one of Burse’s kills to make it 21-20 before completing the comeback.
Burse led all hitters with 22 kills on the night. Junior outside hitter Ashley Smith added on to that offensive momentum with 17 kills of her own, recording only one error for a career-high .533 hitting percentage. With the help of Burse and Smith, the Jayhawks out swung the Longhorns with a .294 clip compared to Texas’ .234 hitting percentage.
In addition to KU’s offensive prowess, Simpson and freshman setter/outside hitter Camryn Ennis each recorded double-doubles in assists and digs. Ennis finished with a team-high 30 assists, while Simpson turned in 20 of her own.
- KU starts Big 12 play 5-0 for the second-consecutive season.
- Kansas extended its winning streak to eight games, the longest since 2016 when they won 14 in a row to close out league play.
- This is the first time in 48 meetings that the Jayhawks have beaten a top-5 ranked Texas team.
- For the first time in conference play this season, Kansas won the first set of a match.
- The Jayhawks posted a .294 hitting percentage, the best they have swung it in conference play this season.
- Senior right-side hitter/setter Gabby Simpson recorded a 7-0 scoring run in the first set, a new season high.
- Junior outside hitter Jada Burse recorded double-digit kills (22) for the seventh-straight match and the 13th time in the last 14 matches.
- Junior outside hitter Ashley Smith tallied double-digit kills (17) for the fifth-straight match and 11-of-16 matches played this season while also recording a season-high hitting percentage of .533.
- Freshman outside hitter/setter Camryn Ennis recorded her ninth double-double in assists (30) and digs (13).
- Junior libero Allie Nelson has reached double figures in digs (15) in each of the last seven contests.
- Kansas moves into sole possession of first place in the Big 12 standings as the only remaining undefeated team in conference play.
Head coach Ray Bechard on the team’s win…
“We played well in the first set and then salvaged the second set. To come back from that emotional third set and win the fourth – we beat a really good team. Texas has set the standard for a lot of years and we are trying to create an opportunity here to be competitive with them.”
Bechard on staying undefeated in conference play…
“Four of those five conference wins have been at home, and now we play the next four out of five on the road. Certainly, we have beaten some good teams and have taken care of business. I told them, we play Texas again Saturday. There is a Tech at the end, but we need to prepare like we did for Texas. We were pretty razor focused the last couple days and we need to prepare just like it.”
Bechard on the freshmen class stepping up…
“They have been good. This was an interesting match for them. They could feel that it was a little different. There was a little bit more energy in the crowd and an extremely talented opponent. I thought they all managed and played really well.”
Junior outside hitter Jada Burse on what this match meant to her…
“I think this match meant a little bit more to me because we have lost to them so many times. I just came out and tried to do anything I could to help my team win.”
Burse on how it felt to get the last kill of the game…
“I didn’t even know what happened. I just went for the ball and hit it as hard as I could.”
Burse on the energy of the crowd…
“I feel like the crowd definitely helped us out. When we were down, our crowd played a big part in keeping us up. I think the energy from the fans was great tonight.”
Burse on the freshmen class stepping up…
“I just told them I was so proud of them. We are a young team and have been the underdog in the Big 12 so far this year. I think not letting the atmosphere get too big for them was key.”
Senior middle blocker Gabby Simpson on her serving…
“I felt really good. For a while, I haven’t been really confident with my serve. I think tonight really helped me gain some of that confidence back.”
Simpson on what has helped the team win eight games in a row…
“The biggest thing I think has been playing consistent. When things don’t go our way, we have to be able to sit back and be like, ‘it’s ok, this happens, it’s volleyball.'”
Kansas heads to Lubbock, Texas, to take on Texas Tech Saturday, Oct. 13 inside United Supermarkets Arena. First serve is slated for 1 p.m.