This story is part two of a two-part Scouting Report featuring one big match of the week. We chose to pick the top 10 matchup between #6 Texas and #8 Kansas in Lawrence Wednesday night at Horesji. If you’re interested in reading my initial scouting report on this match, you can read it here. If you just want a basic review, you can find that story here.
SCOUTING REPORT EXPECTATIONS
Initially, we talked about a few things each team had to do to come out of this battle of Big 12 unbeatens with a victory. First, Kansas:
- Big guns with experience
I mentioned Wednesday before the match that the Jayhawks had to lean on their experienced attackers a bit more than usual. Kelsie Payne and Madison Rigdon are KU’s go-to attackers, and the home crowd in Lawrence was treated to these two putting on a show. Rigdon filled the stat sheet with 20 kills, 11 digs and a team-high 5 blocks on the evening. Payne got in on the double-double party with 16 kills and 14 digs of her own. Even Jada Burse got into the act with 6 kills alone in set 1 and 13 for the match.
- Horesji factor
I wrote on Wednesday that the KU community knows how to pack it in for a volleyball match, and this match was no different, even if it was midweek. If you saw the match, the 1302 in attendance sounded like twice that many. At 22-18 in set 2 (KU leading), I was wondering if Horesji could get any louder. Burse’s back-to-back kills giving KU set point made the roof blow off. But two UT kills (Lexi Sun and Micaya White) and a block ended the noise and settled the crowd down at the break. Viewers and those in attendance must have known that another five-set epic match was to come.
SO WHAT DID TEXAS DO TO COUNTER THE HORESJI FACTOR?
- Block defense
Prior to the match, the Longhorns led the nation in blocks per set (3.44). Even though UT was kept below their average by nearly a block per set, the block was important right when it needed to be; set 2 ended with a double block by White and Chiaka Ogbogu, and strong block by UT in the 5th set finished the match on Burse’s failed self-coverage.
Of the sets UT lost (sets 1 and 3), the Longhorns hit .167 and .079, respectively. Of the sets they won, .265 was the lowest hitting percentage, with UT hitting .400 in the deciding set without a hitting error. Although their prematch hitting percentage had them holding 6th place nationally at .310, KU did an exceptional job keeping UT well below their average even with them hitting .500 in set 4 and .400 in set 5. Once again, however, timely production from UT’s balanced offense without a hitting error proved to be the difference.
Whenever a match goes to five sets, anything can happen. A team has to walk a fine line between aggression and recklessness, especially on the road. This is the third-straight season that the UT/KU matchup went five sets in Lawrence, with the Longhorns winning two of them. Kansas led in aces (2-1) and digs (87-83) in the match. You can’t fault Kansas for their effort, as they came out fighting from the beginning, winning the first set and taking a 2-1 set lead going into the fourth. The Jayhawks even had a match point in hand at 15-14 in the fifth set and extended the match on two other UT match points. Madison Rigdon nearly won the match by herself with 9 kills in the deciding set. Freshman phenom Lexi Sun had a career-high 21 kills and hit .475 with 9 digs and 7 blocks, narrowly missing a triple-double.
Bottom line, this loss will not hurt KU at all moving forward, and I expect the matchup in Austin to be just as eventful on November 15.