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Best of Blue Weekly Awards (week of Oct. 31)

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Thumbnail image for 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 - Rifle posts NCAA-record score, returns to No. 1

The defending national champion UK rifle team started out the season ranked first in the nation. However, West Virginia eclipsed Kentucky in the national rankings two weeks into the season even though the Cats had been impressive in a pair of season-opening wins. In their first match after falling to second, the Wildcats responded in a big way.

Against conference foe Memphis, UK tallied a score of 4711, breaking their own NCAA-record score set during last season's tournament run. Emily Holsopple led the way with a score of 597 in air rifle as the Cats turned in a performance that returned them to the top of the polls.

Player of the week - Luis Orta stands out at SEC Championships


Cross Country junior Luis Orta has been one of the stars of the fall sports season at UK, winning SEC Men's Runner of the Week honors on three separate occasions. Teams throughout the SEC met in Maryville, Tenn., for the conference championships and Orta showed just how deserving he was of all those accolades.

Orta finished fifth among all runners, leading the men's cross country team to a fourth-place finish, the program's best since 1992. The Venezuela native also earned first-team All-SEC honors for his performance, becoming UK's first runner to earn that distinction since Thomas Morgan in 2003.

Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart took to Twitter to congratulate Orta on his success.

"Really proud of Luis Orta for earning (first) team All-SEC honors at the SEC Championships," Barnhart tweeted. "He finished (fifth and) led the team to (fourth) place. Luis really embodies what being a student-athlete at UK means. He doesn't only excel on the field, but also in the classroom and community."

Game of the week - Volleyball defeats No. 13 Florida in five

Mired in a conference title race with top-20 opponents Tennessee and Florida, every match the Wildcats play down the stretch is a big one, but Sunday's match against Florida felt just a bit bigger. Tied at seven midway through the decisive fifth, UK scored eight of the match's final 10 points to upset the No. 13 Gators and maintain control of its own destiny in the race for the SEC title.

UK won the first and third sets, but Florida responded both times to even things up at two entering the final game. The Wildcats then kicked things into another gear to win in the fifth. As an observer, seeing the intensity of the team during that final stretch and the jubilation they displayed once they got the job done was pretty amazing.

Whitney Billings and Ashley Frazier led the attack with 17 and 16 kills, respectively. Billings also joined Christine Hartmann as one of two Cats to post a double-double. Stephanie Klefot had a career-high 28 digs in the win, carrying her to SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Play of the week - Josh Mulvany scores a beautiful goal on Senior Day




Facing off against No. 15 SMU on Senior Day, UK got a pair of goals from departing seniors and held on for a 2-0 upset victory to send the class out in style. The second of those goals was from Josh Mulvany, who came up with a loose ball about 25 yards from goal and spotted the Mustang keeper too far off his line. He volleyed a shot high into the left "upper V" and over the outstretched arms of the beaten keeper.

Mulvany's goal takes place at the seven-second mark of the above video.

Photo of the week - Volleyball celebrates Florida win

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics

Alumnus/alumna of the week - Andrew Albers pitches Team Canada to Pan American gold

Former Kentucky left-handed pitcher Andrew Albers became the second Wildcat in as many weeks to earn a gold medal at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, following Molly Johnson. Albers started the gold medal game for Canada against Team USA, pitching 6.2 innings and allowing just a single run in picking up the win for his native country.

Facing an American team that featured some of baseball's top prospects, Albers struck out eight batters while walking none, helping Canada to its first gold medal in a senior national event in its history.

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