Before No. 9 Kansas could set its sights on facing off against its Border War rival Missouri on Friday, the Jayhawks had to take care of business against Furman.
Well with a rocking Horesji Center, the Jayhawks showed no problem in taking down the Furman Paladins en route to a clean three-set sweep — 25-14, 25-21, 25-17 — in the the first round of the NCAA volleyball tournament.
“I’m excited that we’re moving on, but we’ve got a lot of work to do (Friday),” Kansas coach coach Ray Bechard said.
Sophomore right side hitter Kelsie Payne posted 13 kills to Kansas’ effort. Sophomore setter Ainise Havili ended with 34 assists, and junior libero Cassie Wait racked up 16 digs.
The Jayhawks took full control in the first set. A big dig by Tiana Dockery seemed to get the Jayhawks fired up. And after building a 10-7 lead, Kansas cruised from there.
Dockery notched her 100th victory as a player — the most of any one Jayhawk in program history.
Dockery said she didn’t know anything about the mark until after the match, chuckling and saying she was pretty focused.
Furman came out with a little more fight early in the second set with 15-13 start, but Kansas recovered and claimed the set.
Dockery was able to show off some more of her skills in the third set including three aces in a row as the Jayhawks put the match out of reach.
Bechard was pleased with the victory, but knows his team will need to be sharp. But sharp they have been all season. Kansas improved to 27-2.
“I think there’s great value that they’ve played well over long periods of time,” Bechard said.
In order for Kansas to get back to its second Sweet 16 in three years the Jayhawks must get by Missouri. The rivalry has been played down a little bit, but the kids from Kansas remember it.
“Growing up in Kansas we have that rivalry in our bones,” said senior Anna Church, who is from Fairway. “We’re pretty pumped to play Mizzou.”
The two teams play at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
▪ K-State plays Wichita State in an opening-round match at 4:30 on Friday in Lincoln, Neb.