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Best of Blue Weekly Awards (week of Oct. 17)

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best of blue logo_web.jpg It can be hard to keep up with everything going on in the University of Kentucky's 22 varsity sports. With that in mind, we will highlight the best from around Kentucky sports each week. We'll recognize the best performances from Wildcat teams and players, we'll show you the coolest videos and photos that you may have missed and we'll mix in some new stuff along the way. Here are your award winners for this week:

Team of the week - Men's soccer turns in best performance of season

Sitting at 0-4 in conference play, Ian Collins and the men's soccer team needed to get in the win column badly. With their Conference USA Tournament and NCAA Tournament future at stake, the Cats played their best match of the season against rival Tulsa en route to a crucial 3-1 victory. Charles Pettys had the first two-goal game of his UK career and Josh Mulvany added another goal. It was also a stalwart defensive effort as Tulsa's only goal came on a disputed penalty call.

UK's explosive offensive had been stymied of late, but forward Matt Lodge led the way to an explosion against Tulsa. Although he didn't score a goal, Lodge was the offensive star. He tied a school record with three assists, moving him into second place all-time on the single season assist list with 10 so far in 2011.

Player of the week  - Luis Orta posts yet another top-10 finish

There hasn't been a single UK student-athlete this fall who has been more consistent than junior cross country runner Luis Orta. The Venezuela native finished in fifth place at the Panorama Farms Invitational this weekend, marking his fourth top 10 finish in as many races in 2011. His strong finish paced the Cats to fourth place as a team in the race and has already been named SEC Men's Runner of the Week three times in 2011. Cross country has a couple weeks off before post-season meets begin with the SEC Championships on Oct. 31.

Game of the week - Volleyball upends No. 18 Tennessee in thriller

It's difficult to imagine a midseason volleyball clash meaning more than last Wednesday's match between then-No. 25 UK and No. 18 Tennessee. First place in the Southeastern Conference standings was at stake and ESPNU was broadcasting the match to a national television audience. Adding fuel to the fire was a raucous crowd participating in a "White out" and the fact that UK hadn't beaten the rival Lady Vols in five tries.

Safe to say, Craig Skinner's team responded to the pressure. In a heart-stopping five-set victory, the Cats emerged victorious and pulled into a tie for first in the SEC. In an evenly-matched affair, Whitney Billings filled the stat sheet. The sophomore had 15 kills at a .367 hitting clip along with six blocks and eight digs. Senior Becky Pavan had a team-high 16 kills.

Play of the week - Horner scores golden goal in double OT

With women's soccer teams in the SEC jockeying for position in the conference tournament in Orange Beach, Ala., UK hosted No. 14 Tennessee on Friday in a key match. The Cats played exceptionally well, outshooting Tennessee 22-11, but could not find a way to net a goal. It was a scoreless tie in double overtime when Kelsey Hunyadi found Natalie Horner in the right side of the box. Horner dribbled past a defender and shot into the top of the net for the game-winning goal. Go to the 30-second mark of the video above to see the goal.

Photo of the week - Silhouette shot of Matthew Mitchell as Michael Jackson
UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell was the hit of Big Blue Madness, introducing himself to fans with a spot on impression of Michael Jackson. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell was the hit of Big Blue Madness, introducing himself to fans with a spot on impression of Michael Jackson. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)

Alumnus/alumna of the week - Molly Johnson stars for Team USA in Pan American Games

A couple weeks ago, it was announced that former star UK shortstop and current softball assistant coach Molly Johnson would play for Team USA in the 2011 Pan American Games. Last week, the team played a few exhibitions to prepare for the tournament and Johnson earned a starting spot. The Americans played their opener in tournament play on Monday, earning a 10-0 win over Venezuela, and Johnson was at the middle of it all. She was 3-for-3 at the plate, including two doubles and four RBI.

Team USA plays a pair of games on Tuesday, facing off against the Dominican Republic at 2 p.m. ET and tournament host Mexico at 9 p.m.

Video of the week - Big Blue Madness introduction

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