WVU volleyball completes sweep of No. 10 Kansas

Gold and Blue Nation

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Following a match-high 18 kills and a .600 hitting efficiency from senior middle blocker Briana Lynch, the West Virginia University volleyball team upset No. 10 Kansas in five sets for the second straight match on Saturday evening, inside Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena, in Lawrence, Kansas. The Mountaineers (3-3) took the match from the Jayhawks (1-5) in set scores of 25-16, 22-25, 22-25, 25-21 and 15-12.

With the win, WVU has earned a season sweep over KU for the first time in program history. West Virginia has now won three straight contests over Kansas and has taken the Jayhawks to five sets in seven of its last nine matches.

“That’s what we came here to do,” sixth-year coach Reed Sunahara said. “Again, we were down 2-1 in the match. I thought we were locked in, and we were resilient. We never stopped playing. We had some moments where we weren’t very good, but overall, we never stopped executing. Kansas is a good team, and it’s always great to leave here with a win.”

Lynch, WVU’s lone selection on the 2020 Preseason All-Big 12 Team, had 18 kills with no errors on 30 total attacks for a .600 hitting percentage. The Johns Creek, Georgia, native matched her career high in kills last set on Nov. 16, 2019, against Texas Tech.

“Bri was a lot better tonight than last night,” Sunahara said. “We had a conversation before the match. She was locked in, and she carried us tonight. She had 18 kills and hit for a high percentage. She also came up with some key blocks down the stretch and that propelled us to a victory tonight.”

Three more Mountaineers finished the match in double figures, as junior outside hitter Natali Petrova earned her fourth straight double-double performance with 16 kills and 10 digs. Senior middle blocker Audrey Adams added a season-high 15 kills to the scoresheet, followed by junior outside hitter Kristin Lux with 12. All four Mountaineers hit above .210 in the match.

Junior setter Lacey Zerwas dished out 57 of the team’s 68 kills. The Phoenix, Arizona, native also dug 12 balls on the evening to notch her second double-double of the year. She also has recorded 50-plus assists in a trio of matches this season.

Defensively, senior libero Alexa Hasting anchored WVU’s floor defense with 16 digs in the match, followed by freshman outside hitter/defensive specialist Skye Stokes with 13. Adams led the Mountaineers’ blocking efforts with five block assists, while Lynch, Lux and Zerwas each recorded a trio of block assists in the match.

Additionally, Petrova served up a career-high four service aces, while redshirt sophomore defensive specialist Marielena Somoza, Zerwas and Stokes each had one. Of note, the Mountaineers have posted 17 service aces in their last two matches. 

West Virginia, who played in its fourth straight five-set match of the year, hit .295 with 68 kills and 10 team blocks. Led by Karli Schmidt’s 17 kills, Kansas hit .234 with 58 kills and seven team blocks.

Trailing 2-1 in the match, WVU captured a 25-21 fourth-set victory to force a fifth in Lawrence. Holding an 18-16 advantage, KU used a 3-0 scoring streak to reclaim the lead at 19-18. The squads exchanged a pair of kills, but West Virginia prevailed down the stretch, scoring five in a row for the 25-21 win.

The Mountaineers jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the fifth, but the Jayhawks clawed their way back into the set with a 3-0 scoring run to cut their deficit to four at 12-8. West Virginia called a timeout to regroup, as Lynch came up with a powerful swing out of the stoppage. However, Kansas continued to put up a fight, scoring four in a row to come within two at 13-12. Lynch and Zerwas teamed up for a Mountaineer stop on the next play to reach match point, as Petrova served up an ace to win the set, 15-12, and walk away with the 3-2 victory.

Looking ahead, the Mountaineers return to the WVU Coliseum for a pair of matches against TCU on Oct. 15-16. Thursday’s match will be broadcast live on ESPNU at 7 p.m. ET. Friday’s contest will be carried live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+, the conference’s digital platform, starting at 6 p.m. ET.

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