In a match between rivals Kansas and Missouri, the Jayhawks threw the biggest elbow, right into the face of another Jayhawk.
The MU volleyball team beat Kansas 30-23, 30-26, 30-25 on Wednesday night at Hearnes Center. Early in the match, Josi Lima, Kansas’ All-Big 12 Conference outside hitter and team leader in kills, caught an elbow to the cheekbone during a collision with teammate Paula Caten.
Lima was able to return, but her effectiveness was severely limited. She finished with seven kills and five errors, much less than her 3.5 kills per game entering the match. Lima had a hitting percentage of .080, compared to her average of .257.
“We were a little worried about her cheekbone and her eye,” Kansas coach Ray Bechard said. “She had a little bit of a welt and a headache.”
Missouri’s Lindsey Hunter, a junior setter, said the Tigers were playing well enough to win without Lima’s headache.
“(The injury) affected a pretty good amount,” Hunter said, “but also, our offense was very quick tonight and very unpredictable and I think that helped too.”
It was a big night for Missouri outside hitter Jessica Vander Kooi. She had a team-high 18 kills and a .389 hitting percentage to go with 13 digs, tied for the team lead with freshman Tatum Ailes. Hunter added to her Big 12-leading total with 48 assists.
“I guess you could say I was just feeling it,” Vander Kooi said. “I was just going out there and taking looks before I swung. I had great sets from Hunter, and she had great passes from the back row.”
The win gave MU a season sweep against Kansas and improved the Tigers’ record to 14-6 overall and 9-4 in the Big 12. The Jayhawks are now 13-9, 4-9.
“It was important for us to play well tonight,” MU coach Susan Kreklow said. “We were off this weekend, and you’ve got to come back in ready to go and play well. I was really pleased with the way the team played tonight.”
The Tigers needed some improvisation to win the second game. A late KU rally had brought the Jayhawks back to within 29-26. It looked as if they would have a chance to close the gap further.
KU hit a tricky ball barely over the net, forcing Hunter to hit the ball up to keep it alive. That left Ailes, a defensive specialist who played setter in high school, to set the ball to Vander Kooi. The sophomore’s attack hit off a Kansas player for a kill and a win in Game 2.
“That was just a lucky play,” Hunter said. “It’s awesome that we can have six people on the court that can do their job.”
If balls are off and I can’t get to them, I can just call for Tatum.”
Game 3 was much like Game 2. MU took the lead at 3-2 and never gave it back. Kansas closed within three points late but couldn’t get any closer.
In the teams’ first meeting this year, the Tigers won in five games but four Kansas players made 16 or more kills. This time, though, only Jana Correa reached that plateau, with 17. No other Jayhawk had more than seven kills. In addition, Kansas lost the block battle 11-4 and had only two aces.
“That shows how much we depend on Josi,” Bechard said. “From a serving standpoint, a passing standpoint and an attack standpoint.”