Thrilling match ends in defeat

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The University of Kansas volleyball team lost a hard-fought battle to rival North Carolina in a 3-2 thriller Saturday night at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

Despite falling behind 0-2, the Jayhawks (7-3) rallied to win games four and five in dramatic fashion but fell to the Tarheels 21-19 in an extended game five. With the win, North Carolina claimed the 2003 Hampton Inn/Jayhawk Classic title after going 3-0 in the tournament.

North Carolina opened day two of the tournament with a 3-1 decision over Arkansas. After losing a hard-fought battle to Arkansas Friday night, Kansas swept Creighton in three games, 30-20, 30-18 and 30-21, in the next match. After a two-hour break, Creighton returned to face Arkansas and was swept 3-0 to finish the tournament 0-3 and leave Arkansas in contention for second place.

Kansas and North Carolina took the floor in the nightcap to compete for the tournament championship. Both teams started out strong but the Tarheels pulled ahead and capitalized on Jayhawk hitting and service errors to win game one 30-22. KU came back in game two behind the hitting of senior Sarah Rome and freshman Janaina Correa, but continued to be outblocked and outhit and fell again by three, 30-27.

After the half, the Jayhawks came out and stepped up their blocking and defensive game behind libero Jill Dorsey, who tallied a career-high 27 digs on the night. After a 30-23 win, Kansas elevated to a .343 attack percentage, holding North Carolina to only nine kills in game four and a -.065 hitting mark. The 30-16 win forced a game five to decide the tournament champion.

The teams exchanged leads throughout game five, forcing six match points. After exchanging kills and points, North Carolina pulled ahead 20-19 and scored the final point of the match on a Tarheel kill that touched the hands of three KU players, eventually hit the floor.

North Carolina took home the tournament trophy while Sara Kincaid (Arkansas), Dani Nyenhuis (UNC), Roberta Tarnauskaite (Arkansas), Ashley Michaels (Kansas), Janaina Correa (Kansas) and Katie Wright (UNC) were named to the all-tournament team. North Carolina's Molly Pyles was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

Junior Ashley Michaels led Kansas with a match-high 20 kills and a .378 attack percentage and added four block assists. Rome was solid all-around, adding 16 kills and 23 digs while Josi Lima chipped in 15 kills of her own. Correa also posted 15 kills and contributed 15 digs in the loss. Ashley Bechard tied her career-high with 65 assists and added 10 digs.

"I'm really proud of this team -- I told them whatever we did in games three, four and five, we needed to capture that and remember it," Kansas head coach Ray Bechard said. "It was great energy, good execution and great support. We came up a little bit short but I can't remember a more exciting match ever in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center."

Kansas defeated Creighton 3-0 in the earlier match by a score of 30-20, 30-18 and 30-21. Correa and Michaels led the 'Hawks with 13 kills apiece as Dorsey led the defense with 12 digs. After going 1-2 this weekend, the Jayhawks are 7-3 overall entering league play this week.

The Jayhawks will travel to Manhattan, Kan., Wednesday to open Big 12 Conference play against No. 12 Kansas State. Match time is set for 7 p.m.


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