LAWRENCE — Kansas junior Caroline Jarmoc is a middle blocker who grew up in Calgary, Alberta — more than 1,600 miles away from the University of Kansas. So you can forgive her if, when she arrived on campus in 2009, she had little knowledge of the KU-K-State rivalry. Or even the recent history of the Kansas volleyball program.
But on Wednesday night, after the Jayhawks’ four-set victory (26-28, 25-15, 28-26, 25-20) over Kansas State at sold-out Horesji Center, Jarmoc made it clear that she’s been indoctrinated in the history of the rivalry.
“Once you get in it, you get in it,” Jarmoc said. “I just wanted to crush them today.”
Of course, this was no normal Sunflower Showdown on the volleyball court. For the first time in history, both KU (No. 21 in the AVCA Division I poll) and K-State (No. 14) were ranked heading into the match. And this has been no normal KU volleyball season.
The Jayhawks, who haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2005, improved to 18-3 on the season and 6-1 in the Big 12. It was also KU’s first win over K-State since 2009.
“They got a lot of Kansas kids on the floor,” KU coach Ray Bechard said of K-State. “It is an important match. In the standings, it just gives you one more win. But from a different perspective, regionally, it means a little bit more.”
Jarmoc led Kansas with 11 kills and 11 blocks, and sophomore Sara McClinton finished with a team-high 19 kills.
K-State, which advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 last season, dropped to 17-3 and 4-3 in the Big 12. Senior Kathleen Ludwig, a former Bishop Miege star, led the Wildcats with 17 kills, while junior Kaitlynn Pelger (Olathe South) finished with 15 kills. Senior setter Caitlyn Donahue (BV West) also added 53 assists.
But the Wildcats had no answer for KU after taking the opening set. KU outblocked K-State 18-5.
“They’ve played really well at home,” K-State coach Suzie Fritz said. “I don’t think we underestimated anybody. We’re disappointed because we feel we didn’t play our best.”
And the Jayhawks continued their season-long ride.
“I felt it last year,” KU sophomore Chelsea Albers said. “But we didn’t finish. This year, we have a team that can finish.”