Wildcats Upend No. 4 Minnesota in Biggest Upset Since 1993
No. 19 Volleyball earns Skinner’s biggest win over a ranked opponent with 3-2 victory over fourth-ranked Gophers.
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Behind
a dominating 15-8 fifth set victory the 19th-ranked Kentucky volleyball
team upset No. 4 Minnesota 3-2 (25-18, 22-25, 25-19, 23-25, 15-8) in
front of 1,586 fans in Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. The win over the
fourth-ranked Gophers is the biggest upset in head coach Craig
Skinner’s nine seasons.
Kentucky (6-3) not only handed
Minnesota (8-1) its first loss of the season, the Golden Gophers lost
their first three sets of the 2013 campaign. Minnesota started the
season with eight straight 3-0 sweeps. In each of their previous 24
sets, no opponent had scored more than 19 points against them. Saturday
night, the Wildcats reached at least 22 points in all four possible
“It was a heck of an effort,” Skinner said. “We were
very aggressive tonight and followed the game plan to a ‘T’. Players
just stepped up and made plays and you have to make individual plays
against great teams and that’s what we did tonight.”
win over the fourth-ranked Gophers bested UK’s win over No. 5 Florida
during the 2009 season as the highest in the Skinner era. The victory
is the biggest win over a ranked opponent since the Blue and White
downed No. 3 Texas at home in 1993. The win tied the all-time series
with Minnesota at three wins apiece and is the first time the two
schools have met when UM is ranked.
“It’s just a great
win,” Skinner added. “To me, the biggest thing is that it builds our
confidence and allows our players to understand the level we can play
at. I’m proud of these guys and the way they stepped up. I’m looking
forward to the next opportunity to get in the gym with these guys
because they are fun to coach.”
UK’s next opportunity
comes seven days from now in Nashville, Tenn., against Lipscomb. The
Sept. 21 matchup will begin at 3 p.m. ET and air live on ESPN3. The
road contest is followed by Kentucky’s final non-conference match of
the season against Morehead State on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. in Memorial
Senior Whitney Billings led the way for UK with
a match-high 25 kills and 12 digs to couple with a match best .467
hitting percentage. Junior Lauren O’Conner tossed down a career-high 18
kills, while classmate Jackie Napper accounted for a career-best 24
Sophomore setter Morgan Bergren passed out a
career-high 55 assists and logged her second career double-double with
10 digs. Freshman Anni Thomasson had her fourth double-double, all
within in the last five contests, with 10 kills and 14 digs. Senior
Alexandra Morgan posted six kills and added a team-high eight blocks.
claimed the first set, 25-18 before Minnesota answered back with a
25-22 victory in the second set. The third frame belonged to the
Wildcats by a 25-19 margin and gave them a 2-1 lead. A close, 25-23 win
in the fourth set that was tied at 23-23 went to UM, which forced a
fifth and deciding set.
The Wildcats trailed the fifth
set 2-1 when they took off and never looked back. Just like that, a 5-0
run gave UK a 6-2 lead they would never relinquish. The fast start was
paced by Billings, who notched kills on three of the first five points.
The 6-2 advantage quickly turned to 10-4 and 11-6, when a string of
three straight points went Kentucky’s way to set up match point at
14-6. O’Conner and Bergren each contributed kills on the 3-0 run, and
after Minnesota tallied two points to stave off match point, Bergren
sent home a kill for the final, upset-clinching point.
and Thomasson, with four kills, and Bergren with two, all hit .667 in
the final frame with zero errors. Senior Jessi Greenberg had five of
her season-high nine digs in the fifth set. Bergren dished out eight
The opening set began when Minnesota won
the match’s first point, but it would be the only time in the stanza
Kentucky would not have the advantage. The 25-18 win was fueled by a
6-1 run by UK that brought the Wildcats to within three points of
victory at 22-15. UM rallied with three of the next four points to make
it 23-18, but kills from O’Conner and Billings resulted in the final
two scores of the set. UK led by as many as seven late in the set, and
the latest of three ties occurred at 11-11. The Wildcats out-hit the
Golden Gophers .286 to .111 and posted a 17-11 advantage in kills.
Eight kills from Billings was a match high, followed by O’Conner’s
five. Both attackers hit .500 in the opening frame.
third frame began much like the second set, with back-and-forth action.
An 8-8 tie was the seventh of the set, but that’s when things changed
in favor of the Wildcats in a big way. A 6-0 UK run made it 14-8, and
that run was extended to 15-4, which put the score at 23-12. After a UK
attack error made it 23-13, O’Conner put the Cats within one at 24-13
with a kill. It took seven points, but O’Conner put the set away with
her set-leading fifth kill to stop a 6-0 Gopher run and give the
Wildcats a 2-1 edge in the match. In addition to O’Conner’s five,
Billings had four kills and hit .500 in the frame. UK hit .222 on the
set, compared to UM’s .061. Kentucky out-blocked Minnesota 6-4 in the
The second set, which featured 14 ties, went
to Minnesota by a 25-22 margin. The fourth set was won by the Gophers
25-23. UK tied the set as late as 21-21, but did not lead after an
early 3-2 advantage was erased.