The 4th seeded Kansas volleyball team dropped a grueling five-set second-round NCAA Tournament match to No. 5 seed Penn State at Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena on Friday night in front of a wild and rowdy crowd that more than got its money's worth.
KU (24-6) lost the first and third sets (25-20 and 25-21), won the second and fourth (25-22 and 25-13) — including a convincing win in do-or-die Set No. 4 — to set up the decisive fifth set and the two programs stayed within finger nail's length of each other throughout the final set.
Penn State prevailed in that one, 15-13, to move on to the Sweet 16.
KU coach Ray Bechard noted after the match that the fifth set, which is the first to 15 and win by two, could've gone to 30 points without either side separating by more than a point or two. To that end, Bechard said he told his team they didn't really lose they just ran out of points.
That was a fair and fitting way to characterize what was a fabulous final scene for a season that Bechard said would be remembered fondly for a long, long time.
Senior transfer Reagan Cooper led the KU offense all night, swinging hard on all 56 of her attacks. She only made 3 errors and finished with a school-record tying 29 kills.
Bechard, who was joined by seniors Cooper, Mykayla Myers and Molly Schultz, showed extreme pride in both the season's final match and the season as a whole while meeting with the media one final time.
"In the beginning, it looked like they were gonna try to push us around a little bit," Bechard said of tradition-rich Penn State. "We weren't having it. We were not having it. And this group, they drew a line in the sand and said we're here and we're going to compete and that's exactly what they did."
Friday's match took 2 hours and 40 minutes and was one that Bechard said looked a lot more like an Elite 8 or Final Four match than one played in the second round.
Here's a look back at some of the action, with more to come.
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