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Hawking Points: Kansas Volleyball advances with sweep of Omaha

The Jayhawks hit a few bumps, but they were able to avoid dropping a set in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
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The Kansas Jayhawks started strong, overcame a few bumps and then held on for dear life to complete the sweep the Omaha Mavericks in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. A comfortable win in sets 1 and 2 were followed by a massive battle in the third set, but the home crowd was able to help push the team to a win.

Key Plays

Set 1 

The Jayhawks got off to a slow and methodical start, but had plenty of trouble getting out of their own way. The first nine points of the set were scored by Kansas, but 4 attack errors meant that it was just 5-4 Jayhawks. The Jayhawks took over from there, with an 8-2 run that included 6 errors for Omaha. From there, it was just a matter of playing even, which Kansas was able to do. An emphatic block Toyosi Onabanjo finished off the first set.

Set 2

Kansas got down in this one early after trading the first few points, but the margin never got further than three thanks to service errors from Omaha. But the momentum really started to turn when Kansas three straight points, including two service aces, to bring the margin back to 9-8. Then a 5-2 run gave Kansas a 2-point lead, and Kansas pushed easily to victory from there.

Set 3

Kansas struggled early and often in this set, as Omaha used the longer break to regroup and get off to their strongest start yet. Kansas was able to battle back from an 0-2 start to tie it at 4, but the Mavericks reeled off 4 straight points. They had another 4-0 streak shortly after, and Kansas found themselves facing their largest deficit in the young postseason. But that seven point lead wasn't meant to last. Kansas had two separate 5-0 runs to take a one point lead. Omaha had multiple errors in that stretch.

An Omaha challenge seemed to turn the tide back in their favor, and they built the lead back up to 2 at 22-20. But Kansas wasn't finished, scoring three in a row as the set went back and forth. Ultimately, it would be the errors that would finish off Omaha, as a net violation while down 27-26 finished off the match.

Eye-Catching Stat Lines

The Jayhawks benefited from 14 service errors from Omaha, while they also had 5 service aces.

Reagan Cooper finished the night with a .308 hitting percent on 26 attacks. She had 11 kills on the night.

Camryn Turner had 27 assists on the night, with 10 digs and 3 service aces. She was all over the court and showed why she was named the Big 12 Setter of the Year.

Areas of Improvement

Kansas looked sluggish at the beginning of the second and third set, and it took a while to get going. And nowhere was this more apparent than in the blocking game. While Kansas was pretty close to their season average, they gave up more blocks to Omaha by nearly a whole block per set. 

The team benefitted from multiple unforced errors, but Omaha was able to capitalize on multiple opportunities when they weren't mis-hitting the ball. Kansas will need to clean a lot of that up against Penn State tomorrow.


Ultimately, the Jayhawks got the win in their first round match, and they didn't drop a single set. The fact that they were able to battle back from those big deficits in set 3 and gut out the win is a bigger positive than any of the negatives. Like any of the postseason tournaments, it's all about that one key: survive and advance.

The Jayhawks host the Penn State Nittany Lions tomorrow for the second round. The first serve is scheduled for 5:30pm