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UK Defense Stymies Alabama Attack in Sweep

Kentucky limits Alabama to 16 kills on -.012 hitting for the match


LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky defense enjoyed a terrific outing limiting Alabama to a -.012 hitting clip and a mere 16 kills for the match in a 3-0 (25-12, 25-8, 25-17) sweep Sunday afternoon in front of another packed house at Memorial Coliseum.
“It was another really good win, and we were focused today,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “That was a theme of ours in the match to be focused. I thought we were very efficient, and I’m really proud of the way we executed on the court today.”
With the win, Kentucky improves to 16-3 overall on the season and 7-1 in Southeastern Conference action. Alabama drops to 9-10 overall and 2-6 in league play.
Kentucky remains at home this week with a mid-week against Tennessee. UK and the Lady Vols will meet for the third consecutive season on ESPNU. This year’s matchup begins at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, Oct. 12.
Kentucky’s defensive effort held an opponent to a negative hitting percentage for the sixth time under Skinner’s tutelage. UK last held a team to a negative clip was in a 3-0 victory over Georgia in 2010. The last opponent to registered 20 or fewer kills was Tennessee State in 2008.
UK charted six blocks, but the defensive front was a constant factor for Alabama’s attackers. Freshman Lauren O’Conner and senior Becky Pavan both recorded three rejections. Junior libero Stephanie Klefot led the back row defensive effort with a match-high 12 digs. Freshman Jackie Napper totaled eight scoops and sophomore Jessi Greenberg posted six to lead the way. Seven different Wildcats recorded four or more digs in the win.
On the offensive front, the Blue and White posted a .368 hitting percentage with 45 kills. Sophomore Whitney Billings reached double-figures for the second consecutive match to lead the way with 11 hammers today. Junior Ashley Frazier notched nine kills and O’Conner chipped in with eight. Senior Ann Armes added six, and Pavan knocked down five. Kentucky’s offense also added a season-high 10 aces with O’Conner and Klefot both recording a trio.
Setter Christine Hartmann continues to direct a balanced attack with nine players recording at least one kill in today’s match. Hartmann totaled 39 dimes in the win. The junior from St. Charles, Ill., has led the Wildcats to an above .300 hitting percentage in three consecutive Sunday matches.
The Blue and White earned a 25-12 opening set victory to set the tone early. Three players recorded three kills and Klefot led the defense with five scoops to begin the match.
Alabama scored the opening two points, but UK would then go on a 5-0 run to claim a 5-2 advantage following a kill from Billings. UK then strung together a 6-0 scoring rally to earn a 19-7 advantage midway through the set. Billings and O’Conner capped the set with consecutive kills from the opening win.
Kentucky’s offense exploded for 19 kills on a blazing .598 hitting clip in the second frame. Billings led the charge with six kills on a marvelous .714 hitting clip. Hartmann passed out 17 assists in the 25-8 win.
The home team earned a quick 6-0 start with Pavan contributing a pair of kills and teaming up with O’Conner for a block. Billings led a run with three four kills in a five-point stretch to push the lead to 22-6, before an attacking error from the Tide lifted UK to the 25-8 win a 2-0 lead into the locker room.
The Wildcats finished the match with a 25-17 final set victory. Frazier led the attack with four kills, while Klefot paced the defensive effort with a trio of digs. The junior from Louisville also added all three of her aces in the frame.
UK’s offense began with seven aces in the set. Three players tallied two or more in the set to jump-start the finish. Napper began the set with back-to-back service aces and UK never looked back. Billings capped the match with a final kill that sliced the defense.
Kentucky's Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 9-10. UK is one of four sites selected for Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas, from the Lexington Region. Opening night matches are scheduled for 5 and 7 p.m. ET. Saturday’s finals is set for a 4:30 p.m. ET first serve.



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