Gold and Blue Nation

Volleyball preps for weekend matches at No. 10 Kansas

Gold and Blue Nation

The West Virginia University volleyball team treks to Lawrence, Kansas, for a pair of conference matches against the No. 10-ranked Jayhawks on Oct. 9-10.

Friday’s competition is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET inside Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena, while Saturday’s match is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. ET. Both contests will be carried live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. For more information, or to sign up for the digital platform, visit WVUsports.com/Big12Now.

Live stats and video links for both matches can be found on WVUsports.com.

“Every weekend is important,” sixth-year coach Reed Sunahara said. “We’re in the Big 12 Conference, so every win we can get helps. Kansas is a good team. They are a lot better than they were last year. They might have the same record as us, but they played Baylor and Texas.

“They are good. They could easily be the third-best team in the conference, but who knows because they are 1-3 right now. They have the same record as us. We’re going to go there, compete hard and see what comes out of it. If we can steal a win at Kansas, that’d be great.”

Kansas is 16-2 all-time against West Virginia in a series that dates back to 1999, though WVU has taken KU to five sets in five of its last seven matches. The two schools earned a series-split last season, with West Virginia completing its 2019 campaign with a thrilling, 3-2 comeback win in the regular-season finale on Nov. 30, at the WVU Coliseum.

In the squad’s last meeting in Lawrence, West Virginia suffered a five-set loss on Oct. 19, 2019. The last time the Mountaineers upset the Jayhawks on the road was Nov. 25, 2017. The victory marked the program’s first-ever win over a top-25 team.

West Virginia most recently dropped a pair of Big 12 matches at home last week, falling in five sets to Kansas State on Thursday and Friday at the WVU Coliseum. WVU finished the week hitting .185 with 128 kills and 21 total blocks.

As a team, WVU sits 10th nationally in kills (13.76 k/s), 12th in blocks (2.18 b/s), 13th in digs (15.56 d/s), 15th in assists (12.18 a/s) and 24th in hitting percentage (.198).

Individually, four Mountaineers sit in the top 25 of four national categories. Junior setter Lacey Zerwas ranks eighth in assists per set (11.00), senior middle blocker Briana Lynch ranks 10th in hitting percentage (.406) and senior libero Alexa Hasting ranks 14th in digs per set (4.35). Additionally, Lynch and redshirt senior middle blocker Audrey Adams ranks 18th (1.12) and 22nd (1.06), respectively, in blocks pet set.

West Virginia’s floor defense sits atop the Big 12. Hasting has recorded double-digit digs in WVU’s first four matches, including a pair of 20-plus dig performances. She had a season-high 24 digs last Friday against K-State.

The Mountaineers’ offense also ranks third in the conference with 13.76 kills per set. Junior outside hitter Natali Petrova leads the team with 3.24 kills per set, followed by Lynch with 2.94. Of note, Lynch was WVU’s lone selection on the 2020 Preseason All-Big 12 Team.

Kansas has lost three of its last four matches, most recently dropping back-to-back contests to No. 1 Texas on Oct. 1-2.

The Jayhawks average 10.5 kills per set and are led by senior outside hitter Jenny Mosser, a graduate transfer from UCLA, with 3.29 kills per set. Redshirt junior right-side hitter Anezka Szabo paces KU’s blocking efforts with 0.79 blocks per set, while freshman defensive specialist Molly Schultz leads the floor defense with 2.43 digs per set.

For more information on the Mountaineers, visit WVUsports.com and follow WVUVolleyball on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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