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Wildcats Make History in Sweep of South Carolina
LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the
eighth consecutive season under the direction of Craig Skinner the
Kentucky volleyball team secured 17 or more victories following a 3-0
(25-14, 25-18, 25-18) sweep of visiting South Carolina on Sunday in
Memorial Coliseum. The win was good enough for the team’s 17th of the
season, as well as continuing a season-long five-match winning streak.
“We’re getting better,” Skinner said. “I haven’t seen us stop
improving, but defensively we still have to get better. If we’re able
to get everyone involved (offensively), it’s very difficult typically
for teams to prepare. It’s something we work on every day. When you see
it on the floor and under the lights during matches, it builds
Kentucky improves to 17-8 on the season and 11-4 in Southeastern
Conference action with the win over the Gamecocks. South Carolina falls
to 15-12 overall and 3-12 in league competition.
The Wildcats enjoyed another tremendous offensive performance as UK
totaled 51 kills on an impressive .471 hitting percentage for the
match. Sophomore Lauren O’Conner led the way with 12 kills on .455
hitting. Senior Ashley Frazier added 10 kills on a .368 clip.
Junior Whitney Billings posted eight kills utilizing a .375 clip.
Junior Alexandra Morgan and freshman Sara Schwarzwalder added seven
kills apiece, with both players registering a .350 hitting clip or
better. Senior setter Christine Hartmann passed out 38 assists and
contributed six digs on the afternoon.
Senior libero Stephanie Klefot had a match-high 15 digs to lead the
defensive effort. Sophomore Jackie Napper had nine and junior Jessi
Greenberg contributed four to the winning cause.
Kentucky earned a dominating 25-14 opening set victory to begin the
match. UK charted 16 kills on a blazing .560 hitting clip. Morgan led
the way with five hammers on .625 hitting clip to pace the Wildcat
attack. South Carolina managed 10 kills on a .192 hitting percentage.
The visitors scored the opening point of the match before Kentucky
logged a kill from the hand of Morgan. The two teams exchanged points
back-and-forth until UK shook free for an additional two points on a
kill from Morgan and a block from the tandem of Schwarzwalder and
Hartmann. Kentucky maintained the edge until it closed out the set on
an 8-2 run highlighted by six points coming in the form of kills.
O’Conner lifted the Wildcats to the clinching point with her second
kill of the stanza.
UK earned a 2-0 lead into the locker room as the Blue and White secured
a 25-18 second set victory. Kentucky tallied 18 kills on .275 hitting
in the frame with O’Conner and Frazier both notching five kills apiece.
The Wildcats’ defense was equally impressive limiting the Gamecocks to
a mere five kills on a .000 hitting clip.
Just as she closed out the set, O’Conner opened the scoring in the
second stanza with a kill. South Carolina battled in the early stages
of the frame before UK opened up an eight-point advantage at 13-5 on a
kill from Billings. South Carolina scored 13 of the final 25 points,
but the gap was too large for the visitors to overcome as the Wildcats
secured the win.
The Wildcats saved their most impressive performance for last with a
25-18 third set win. UK posted 17 kills on a season-high .727 hitting
clip as a team. UK committed just one error in the stanza. South
Carolina had 14 kills on .545 hitting in its best performance of the
day in attempt to match the Wildcats kill-for-kill. O’Conner led the
way with five kills in the set on a staggering .833 hitting.
The home team raced out to a 3-1 lead on back-to-back kills from
Frazier and Billings. However, South Carolina would not go away quietly
and eventually pulled back to within one at 9-8. The Wildcats would put
together an 8-4 run with Klefot serving five-straight points to secure
the largest lead of the frame at 18-11. The cushion would be enough for
the Blue and White to hang on for the 25-18 win with freshman Shelby
Workman registering the match-clinching kill.
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