Top-Seeded Texas Escapes With Hard-Fought Win
Feisty Wildcats go toe-to-toe with tournament’s top seed in front of 4,022 fans
Ky. – Despite a valiant effort by a gutsy Kentucky team, the top-seeded
Texas Longhorns outlasted the host Wildcats in a thrilling 3-1 (25-23,
22-25, 27-25, 25-23) match to advance to the NCAA Regional Finals in
front of a near-capacity crowd of 4,022 fans in Memorial Coliseum.
the loss the Wildcats conclude their season behind perhaps their best
performance of the year. UK closes out the year with an impressive 28-6
overall record. Texas improves to 26-4 and will face UCLA for the right
to march on to the NCAA Semi-Finals in San Antonio, Texas, next week.
that saw that match, I think that’s about as level of volleyball as you
can play,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “If you aren’t excited to play
in front of a crowd like that and with a group that puts there heart
and soul into the game then I’d be stunned. We’re on the right path and
we have to continue to take steps forward and this team is so motivated
that I’m not worried that won’t happen.”
featured 52 tie scores and 20 lead swaps combined in the four sets and
the teams were evenly matched in nearly every statistical category.
didn’t expect it to be as evenly matched as far as statistics,” Skinner
said. “I thought we could have done a lot of things defensively,
blocking and attacking. The one thing I did not expect tonight was
Texas to play the floor defense they did tonight, we hit some rockets
and they came up with them and that was probably the difference in the
Four Wildcat players reached double-figures in the
kills’ column led by 16 from junior Ashley Frazier. Freshman Lauren
O’Conner tallied 13 with seniors Becky Pavan (12) and Ann Armes (11).
Junior setter Christine Hartmann passed out 52 assists and added three
kills of her own as the Wildcats tossed down 13 or more kills in every
Junior libero Stephanie Klefot tallied 21 digs and
has now topped 600 digs for the season and is the first player in UK
history to achieve that feat. Sophomore Jessi Greenberg added eight
digs with freshman Jackie Napper contributing seven.
first set featured a back-and-forth battle with Texas scoring the final
two points to break a 23-23 tie. The Longhorns struck for a kill and
then forced a hitting error by the Blue and White. UK opened the match
by hitting .310 with O’Conner jump-starting the match with four kills
to lead the way.
Kentucky fired back to capture the second
set by a 25-22 score and earn a tie into the locker room at one set
apiece. Pavan was unstoppable with eight kills on a near-perfect .833
A kill from Hartmann broke a 21-21 tie.
O’Conner and Pavan then teamed up for back-to-back kills to give the
Wildcats a 24-21 edge. The Longhorns saved set-point once before Pavan
struck for her fifth kill of the stanza to ignite the raucous crowd.
third set needed extra-points to determine a winner. With the Longhorns
capturing set-point at 24-21, the Wildcats scored the next three points
to tie the score at 24. O’Conner struck for a kill and then sliced the
defense with her serve. Frazier smacked her third kill of the frame to
knot the score. After UK saved set point once again at 25-25, the
Longhorns were able to break loose for back-to-back kills and take the
hotly-contested set 27-25.
The fourth frame was much of
the same between the two squads with the set going down to the wire.
Frazier tied the score at 22 apiece, but the Longhorns would go on to
score three of the final four points to advance to the Regional Finals
for the third consecutive season.
Frazier struck for six kills in the set and Klefot posted seven digs as the Wildcats attempted to keep the match alive.
will take on UCLA on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET in Memorial Coliseum for
the right to move on to the national semi-finals. The Bruins knocked
off four-time defending champion Penn State in decisive fashion with a
3-0 sweep to move on to the final eight.