Seniors Help UK Claw Back to Set-Up SEC Showdown
Kentucky will play Tennessee on Wednesday, Nov. 23 for chance at SEC title
Ky. – Trailing 2-0 on Senior Day, the 16th-ranked Kentucky volleyball
team received inspired performances from its senior trio to capture a
dramatic 3-2 (18-25, 26-28, 25-23, 25-21, 15-13) victory over Arkansas
on Sunday. The win sets up a showdown with 14th-ranked Tennessee on
Wednesday, Nov. 23 for a chance to earn a share of the Southeastern
The senior trio of Becky Pavan, Gretchen
Giesler and Ann Armes enforced their will to win on the Wildcats in
aiding an improbable comeback effort to remain perfect on the season in
matches that go five sets. With the victory, Kentucky improves to 26-4
and 17-2 in SEC action equaling a program-record for conference
victories under the direction of Craig Skinner. Arkansas falls to 18-12
and 10-9 in league play.
“This group is just an absolute
team,” Skinner said. “They will each other to win. They want each other
to do well and they are not worried about who gets credit.”
their backs again the wall the Wildcats seemed at their best storming
back to capture the final three sets of the match including a thrilling
15-13 win in the decisive fifth frame.
UK raced out to an
early 4-0 advantage thanks to kills from Pavan and junior Ashley
Frazier. Arkansas responded with a 4-0 run of its own to knot the score
at five apiece. From there the teams exchanged points back-and-forth
answering each other kill-for-kill. Arkansas earned a lead at 13-12,
but sophomore Whitney Billings quickly tied things back up for the home
A stifling defensive effort that induced 15 blocks
and 64 digs for the match, forced the Razorbacks into an erroneous
attack to earn match-point. Kentucky then turned to one if its youngest
players on the court for the final swing and freshman Lauren O’Conner
delivered her eighth kill of the match non more important than the
Frazier led the offensive effort
with 15 kills. Billings charted a double-double effort with 12 kills
and 13 digs, and Pavan was the third player to reach double-figures
with 11 kills including three in the final stanza.
posted eight kills with Armes notching seven and Giesler adding six.
Junior setter Christine Hartmann dished out 54 assists and added four
blocks to the winning cause.
Pavan led the defensive
effort at the net with seven rejections as UK had six different players
record three more blocks in the match. Junior Stephanie Klefot
contributed 16 digs and has now totaled 10 or more in a match in all 19
Sophomore Jessi Greenberg had perhaps the best
match of her career with 16 scoops, one shy of matching a career-high,
to provide an additional spark to UK’s defensive effort. Freshman
Jackie Napper added nine digs and an assist in UK’s victory.
2-0, UK needed to win the third set to keep the match alive. Kentucky
responded with a tight 25-23 third set victory behind five kills from
Frazier and five digs from Greenberg. The set featured 10 tie score and
four lead changes.
Kentucky garnered the early lead with
an ace from Frazier to make the score 5-3. Arkansas responded and
eventually earned a three-point edge as late as 19-16. Kentucky capped
the frame on a 9-4 run to lift 1,188 UK fans to their feet. In the run,
Pavan and Billings both posted a pair of kills and Klefot added an ace.
fourth set belonged to the Wildcats by a 25-21 margin. Giesler sparked
the offensive effort with five kills and Greenberg once again led the
defensive effort with six scoops.
Kentucky earned a 1-0
advantage off of a powerful Frazier kill and would never relinquish the
lead, although Arkansas managed to knot the score including a 9-9 tie.
UK then charted a 5-0 run with Giesler notching three consecutive kills
in the run to break free for a 13-10 edge. UK also managed to put
together four blocks in the frame to help its own cause. Giesler forced
the deciding fifth stanza with her fifth kill of the set.
Arkansas earned a 2-0 lead into the locker room by earning 25-18 and 28-26 set scores to begin the match.
will now travel to Knoxville, Tenn., for the regular season finale and
a chance to capture the SEC title on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. Tennessee
has already clinched at least a share of the crown with a win over LSU
today. However, with a win over the Lady Vols, Kentucky would own the
head-to-head tie breaker and claim the automatic bid into the NCAA
“We are excited,” Skinner said. “Tennessee is
a great team, and they have been all year long. It's going to be a
tough match, but you want to be in position to win it, and we are.”