It's been 56 days since the Kentucky rifle team has fired a shot in team competition. You have to go all the way back to Nov. 17 when the Wildcats hosted No. 1 TCU. Sunday, Kentucky gets back on the horse with a match in Murray, Ky.
The opponent? No. 4 Alaska-Fairbanks. That's not exactly the ideal way to ease back into the competitive ring. Yet, the first match out of the holiday break has usually spelled success for Harry Mullins and his team.
"After you take a break and go and compete, we've typically seen some success just coming right out of the chute," said Mullins. "During our training camp during the break, we don't have a lot of the other time commitments that athletes typically have to deal with."
Kentucky, the No. 3 team in the collegiate rifle rankings, is hoping that it can get back to where it was before the break. Though the loss to TCU was disappointing, the Wildcats still shot 4693 as a team. Most teams in the country would be ecstatic with that type of effort.
Mullins and his athletes, two years removed from a national championship, know that there are points to be had and there's more effort to be exerted on the range. In order for that to happen, the shooters must give of themselves to their teammates. Mullins instituted several team-building exercises during their training time over the winter break. He's seen his team begin to jell off the range with hopes of that translating to more success on it. It's going to take teamwork.
"Teamwork in the sense of everybody not necessarily everybody maxing out on their performance, but not leaving easy points out there on the board," said Mullins. "We don't want to sit there and bank on two or three people shooting high-590s and then others coming in in the 580s. We'd much rather stay in the mid to low 590s across the board."
The intensity died down a bit after the disappointment of their first loss of the season at the hands of TCU, but as training camp picked up and the date with Alaska-Fairbanks drew near, the intensity has picked back up as Mullins has introduced some self-manufactured pressure into the range.
With another meeting of top-five shooting teams in the country set for Sunday in Murray, the quantity and the quality of the athletes on the range should be enough to send the intensity through the roof. Not to mention the fact that UK and Alaska-Fairbanks have become rivals over the years with each having their fair share of success.
"We've taken our licks on the chin against Alaska many years," said Mullins. "We've been fortunate to be on the other side of that the last few years, but Alaska's a quality program. It's going to be very close, and we're going to have to work hard to get it to fall in our favor."
What will add to that intensity is the pressure they'll experience of performing against another top-5 opponent. That pressure will likely be there as Kentucky makes its way down the homestretch to the postseason.
"Having the pressure put on them, because every match from here on out is going to be pressure-ridden because we're trying to prepare them for the NCAAs," said Mullins.
The pressure and intensity is key because Kentucky is going to have to learn how to deal with and overcome adversity in order to be properly seasoned for the road ahead. That's why Mullins doesn't hesitate to schedule teams like TCU and Alaska-Fairbanks.
Mullins is simply looking for the best way to motivate his shooters to be ready when the postseason comes.
"The holidays are nice, but we try to put the schedule together so that most, if not all, matches from here on out have a postseason intensity," said Mullins. "We've put some parameters on the team and requirements on things they have to do and cut down the travel squad just to increase the intensity on the range."
On Sunday, Mullins will get to see if all of that preparation pays off and if the Cats are on the right track for postseason success.
Football - Kentucky was impressive both on offense and defense in a win over Samford. Offensively, Kentucky posted 455 yards of total offense including 342 on the ground, while the UK defense limited Samford to 102 yards of total offense - which was the lowest output by a UK opponent since 1996. - True freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow went 10-of-13 for 66 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 59 yards and a rushing touchdown. Junior Raymond Sanders led the team in rushing with 123 yards and a TD. - Linebacker Avery Williamson paced the defense with 13 tackles, including two sacks, becoming the first player since 1990 to have four straight games with 13 or more tackles.
Men's basketball - Freshmen Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel led the effort against Duke as Poythress scored 20 points, while Noel contributed 15 points and eight rebounds. - Kentucky used sharp shooting in going over the century mark in the 101-49 victory over Lafayette. Kentucky's .645 shooting from the floor as a team was the best under fourth-year head coach John Calipari and best for any UK team since 2008. - Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer hit a career-high seven 3-pointers. Poythress charted a career-high 22 points to become the first freshman to have back-to-back 20-point efforts since Brandon Knight in February 2011.
Volleyball - Junior Alexandra Morgan shined in a 3-1 win over Georgia with nine kills on a .400 hitting percentage, but it was her defense that proved the difference. Morgan had a career-high 10 blocks to accompany three aces and four digs. The 10 rejections was easily a career high and it marks the first 10-block performance by a Wildcat since Lauren Rapp had 10 blocks in an NCAA Tournament victory back in 2010. - UK honored the senior class of Ashley Frazier, Christine Hartmann and Stephanie Klefot before the match. Frazier had nine kills, Hartmann a double-double with 45 assists and 13 digs, and Klefot a match-high 19 scoops in the victory.
Women's basketball - UK's first road trip of the season wasn't a very pleasant one as the Wildcats dropped an 85-51 decision to No. 1 Baylor in the programs' first-ever meeting. It didn't help that UK shot its lowest shooting percentage since 2008, netting just 27.1 percent from the field. Senior guard A'dia Mathies led UK with 12 points, while sophomore guard Bria Goss added 11. - UK regrouped and charted an 80-46 win over High Point on Saturday, hitting 50 percent from the field (30-of-60) and forcing 32 turnovers on season-high tying 19 steals. Mathies once again led the way, scoring all 17 of her points in the first half. Junior forward Samarie Walker pulled down a season-best 12 rebounds to go along with six points, three assists and three steals.
Women's soccer - UK fell to No. 5/6 UCLA in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Women's Soccer Championship, ending their season with a 14-6-1 mark. - It was the first time UK had ever advanced in the NCAA Tournament in 20 years of competition. - Kentucky finished the season with a 2-1-1 record against top-15 teams in the country, knocking off No. 12 Louisville, No. 13 Florida and earning a draw with No. 6 Texas A&M.
Rifle - The Kentucky rifle team shot a 4693 on Saturday but fell to top-ranked TCU. - Freshman Connor Davis tied a program best in air rifle with a 597. Senior Henri Junghänel led the team with an aggregate score of 1185, shooting a 590 in smallbore followed by a 595 in air rifle. Cross country - Cally Macumber capped a great season with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA National Championships on Saturday. She finished the 6K race in a season-best time of 19:42.20, fewer than 15 seconds behind the race winner. She is the highest NCAA finisher for the Wildcat women since Valerie McGovern was the national runner-up in 1989. Macumber became the first woman in UK history to complete a 6K race in less than 20 minutes. - Chelsea Oswald also had an impressive day as she came in 37th with a time of 20:13.00. Both Macumber and Oswald earned All-America honors, marking the first time since 1988 that multiple UK women were garnered that recognition in the same year. - Luis Orta also impressed by finishing with a time of 30:52.30 in his first NCAA Championship appearance.
Swimming and diving - Kentucky's men's and women's swimming teams earned second place finishes in the Volunteer Invitational this weekend. The Wildcats earned strong individual performances from freshman Matt Roman and junior Lucas Gerotto on the men's side, while sophomore Julia Gerotto, senior Mandy Myers and senior Megan Eppler led the way for the women. - Junior diver Greg Ferrucci had a big weekend, sweeping the 1-meter (369.95), 3-meter (410.90), and the platform (383.35) events over Tennessee and Duke.
Men's soccer - Kentucky fell to No. 19 Xavier, 1-0, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. - UK hosted just its second NCAA Tournament game in the history of the program and its first since 2003. UK's NCAA Tournament berth was also its first in nine seasons, with the Wildcats making its fifth all-time postseason appearance.
Wednesday, Nov. 21 Men's basketball hosts Morehead State - 7:00 p.m. Volleyball at Missouri - 8:00 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 23 Volleyball at Auburn - 4:00 p.m. Women's basketball hosts Morehead State - 4:00 p.m. Men's basketball hosts LIU Brooklyn - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 24 Football at Tennessee - 12:21 p.m.
Senior Henri Junghanel has helped lead Kentucky to an undefeated record this season. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
The hunter has become the hunted. And the Wildcats, the former prey, are looking to track down the defending national champion TCU Horned Frogs on the rifle range this Saturday.
Texas Christian comes to Lexington, Ky., this weekend boasting the No. 1 ranking in the collegiate rifle ranks to set up a heavyweight battle between the two of the top three teams in the nation. The No. 3 Kentucky team, runner-up to TCU in last year's NCAA Rifle Championships, is looking forward to reigniting the rivalry they've built over the last few seasons.
"With both us being top programs in the country the last three or four years, when you go head to head, there's always that sense of they got us last year at the tournament or head-to-head from our perspective," said Kentucky head rifle coach Harry Mullins.
But the sport of rifle isn't basketball or football. There's no defense. That doesn't mean the level of competition won't be peaking in the range of the Buell Armory 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
"At the level we're going to compete at, it's going to be a grind-it-out, shot-for-shot-type of deal," said Mullins. "They don't know that as they compete, but I think they know in their subconscious that there's no room for error."
Though Kentucky has one of the toughest schedules in the country, Mullins has been able to mix and match his lineups to build experience. Kentucky's talent level has also allowed the Cats to relax a bit through the early portion of the schedule. With the TCU's and West Virginia's up ahead and more conference meets in the near future, Kentucky's margin for error is decreasing on a weekly basis.
That all starts with TCU. And the Cats are going to have to bring it from the first shot.
"An error is going to be costly on both sides, and I think both teams know that," said Mullins. "That's the atmosphere that's going to be brought into the range at both sides. You can't B-plus it most of the time and try to close strong. You have to bring you're A-game from start to finish."
Both teams come into the match undefeated. The Horned Frogs have reached the 4,700 mark, considered the benchmark of an elite-level competition, multiple times this season. Kentucky has broken the 4,700 barrier once this season shooting 4,716 earlier in the year against Army.
Eclipsing that mark will be necessary when facing the highest level of competition that the Cats have seen thus far in the season. In order for them to get that number, Mullins wants to see his athletes continue to forge together as a unit.
"I think we can put up a strong and great number when we're all together and clicking at the same time," said Mullins. "The key is for all of us to click at the same time. That's very, very hard to do."
The Wildcats just missed the mark in their most recent meet, falling just short at 4,697 in a win over Navy. It appears they're trending upward.
Over the last few weeks, Mullins has tried to emphasize the team-first mentality. Seniors Henri Junghanel and Stacy Wheatley and junior Emily Holsopple have anchored the team at times this season, carrying the Cats to their undefeated mark. This weekend is going to require a complete team effort.
Rather than focusing on beating No. 1, however, Mullins wants his team to continue to concentrate on what it does best. His team can't be worried about chasing some of the gaudy numbers that TCU's top seniors are capable of.
"We have to come in and do the things that we do best and that's to perform at our level," said Mullins. "When we perform at our level and our solid performance, we may have some good numbers like that. But more so, we will have solid number across the board from number one through number six."
Comfort and familiarity with the home range should be an advantage against TCU. Kentucky has been shooting very well in practices over the last few weeks, and the rising scores are indicative of that. The challenge the rest of the way will be to build the bridge from the practice rounds into the day of the competition.
"They feel they have a lot left to give," said Mullins. "The only question is when will they give it and will it be all at the same time? Under these conditions it would be a great accomplishment if they could do that."
Football - Linebacker Avery Williamson, who entered the game leading the league in total tackles, had a career-high 20 tackles. He is the first UK player with 20 or more tackles since Chad Anderson made 21 tackles against Georgia in 2003. - Kentucky has an open date Nov. 10 before returning to action Sat. Nov. 17 at home vs. Samford. Kentucky entered the weekend having played the toughest schedule in the nation, according to Anderson and Hester computer ratings used in the official BCS rankings.
Men's basketball - Kentucky was paced by a team-high 22 points from freshman Archie Goodwin in the win over, NAIA's No. 1 ranked team, Northwood. - Fellow freshman Nerlens Noel added a double-double effort with 17 points and 11 rebounds. - The meeting with Transylvania will mark the final preseason competition for the Cats, before UK travels to Brooklyn, N.Y., to open the Barclays Center with a season-opening contest against Maryland on Friday.
Volleyball - The 17 victories guarantees UK a winning season for an unprecedented eighth-consecutive season under UK coach Craig Skinner. - The Wildcats were paced by senior Ashley Frazier as she averaged 4.29 kills per set on an impressive .362 hitting percentage. Frazier had a career-high 20 kills against the Rebels to couple with a career-high eight digs in the win. - Senior setter Christine Hartmann directed the offense to the tune of 15.80 kills per set on a .372 hitting percentage. - Senior libero Stephanie Klefot continues to be an anchor for the Wildcats from the back line. She was perfect on her serve-receive attempts and averaged a squad-best 4.14 digs per set. With 29 scoops on the weekend, she became just the fourth player in SEC history to tally 1,800 or more digs in a career.
Women's soccer - Kentucky bowed out of the SEC Tournament to Missouri in the quarterfinals 2-1 in Orange Beach, Ala., on Wednesday. - Caitlin Landis scored UK's lone goal on Wednesday. Landis has scored three goals in the last two games.
Men's soccer - The Wildcats have been led offensively by Tyler Riggs and Matt Lodge, who have accounted for 14 goals (Riggs-7, Lodge-7) combined through 18 games .The duo has also connected for six assists (Riggs-4, Lodge-2) during the regular season. - UK will travel to Hoover, Ala. for the C-USA tournament game at 6:00 p.m. ET vs. Memphis.
Rifle - The University of Kentucky rifle team defeated No. 15 North Carolina State and The Citadel on Saturday, shooting a 4686 in the triangular match in Charleston, S.C. - Junior Emily Holsopple shot a personal-best 590 in smallbore. - Sophomore Jonathan Pinkel and freshman Luke South recorded personal bests in air rifle, Pinkel shooting a 591 and South a 590.
Women's golf - The UK women's golf team finished in sixth place at the Alamo Invitational with a score of 11-over-par, 875. - The squad set a program record with a final round of 6-under-par, 282. The Cats broke the previous school record of 284 for a round, which was set during the 2009-10 season. - Kentucky had two top-25 finishers as Ashleigh Albrecht placed tied for 22nd at 2-over, while Cylia Damerau was tied for 25th at 3-over.
Cross country - Cally Macumber was named Southeastern Conference Cross Country Runner of the Year on Friday. - The Rochester Hills, Mich., native won the SEC Championship Race on Oct. 26 and owns the SEC-best times at both 5,000 meters and 6K. She was also named a First Team All-SEC runner. - Macumber was the first Wildcat to win the women's SEC Title since Valarie McGovern won the conference meet in 1989. - The Kentucky cross country teams return to action on Nov. 9 for the NCAA Southeast Regional in Charlotte, N.C.
Swimming and diving - Kentucky divers junior Greg Ferrucci and freshman Rebecca Hamperian each picked up wins in the 1-meter and 3-meter events Friday against Auburn. - For the third consecutive Friday, sophomore Lucas Gerotto won the 100-butterfly (49.25) and has bested his time each meet. His sister, sophomore Julia Gerotto, earned her first win of the season with a victory in the 200-butterfly (2:02.44) while also picking up a second place finish in the 1000-freestyle (10:15.39).
Football - The UK defense continued to improve, limiting Missouri to 273 yards of total offense which was the lowest number of yards UK has allowed all season. - The Wildcat defense also created a season-high three turnovers in the game, getting two interceptions and a fumble recovery. J.D. Harmon was impressive in the effort for Kentucky, earning a career-best seven tackles on top of the two interceptions.
Volleyball - Senior setter Christine Hartmann narrowly missed out on a triple-double with nine kills, 52 assists and 11 digs against Tennessee. She directed four players to 10 or more kills in the match including 19 on a .472 hitting clip from senior Ashley Frazier. - With 21 digs against UT, senior Stephanie Klefot moved into sole possession of fourth place on the SEC all-time career digs leader list. - In the victory over Georgia, UK saw Hartmann lead the defensive effort with a career-high 19 digs. She passed out 58 assists and again found four players for 10 or more kills. - Freshman Sara Schwarzwalder led the defensive effort for the weekend with team-highs in blocks in both matches including matching a career-high eight in the victory against the Bulldogs. Women's soccer - UK's eight SEC wins marks the most conference wins for the Wildcats since the 1999 season. It ties a program record for most SEC wins in a season. - The Wildcats have shut out four of the last five opponents they have faced, as goalkeeper Kayla King has only allowed one goal in the last 422 minutes of action in the net. - UK finishes the season having six different freshmen score a goal, as the class accounted for more than 30 points on the season.
Men's soccer - Jack Van Arsdale notched his fourth shutout of the year and UK got splendid play from defenders Steven Perinovic, Jacob Kemper, Jacob Speed and Isak Krogstad in a win at No. 23 Tulsa. - UK has improved to 6-2 on the road in 2012, with the Wildcats tied for the second-most road wins in the NCAA entering the Saturday win.
Rifle - The No. 2 University of Kentucky rifle team defeated No. 15 Tennessee-Martin 4656 - 4577 Sunday in Barker Hall. - Freshman Connor Davis led the Wildcats with an aggregate score of 1170. - Junior Aaron Holsopple finished with a match high in smallbore, shooting a 582. Women's soccer - Senior Jessica Stiles finished the weekend 3-0 in singles play and 2-1 in doubles. Stiles' play left her in second for singles champion, one point off first. - Junior Khristina Blajkevitch capped off a perfect singles weekend with a 6-1, 6-1 win on Sunday.
Cross country - Cally Macumber achieved a feat no other University of Kentucky Wildcat had accomplished in 23 years when she won the SEC Cross Country Championship by a four-second margin with a time of 20:23.29 in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday. - The UK women placed fifth overall, while the men finished sixth. - Luis Orta was the first Wildcat to finish on the men's side in 24:10.83 over 8K. - Three Wildcats earned spots on the All-SEC teams by virtue of their performances at the Conference meet as Macumber and Oswald were named to the First Team, while Orta made the Second Team. - Macumber and Oswald each received All-SEC honors for the second time in their careers. Orta, a senior, reached All-Conference status for the third time.
Swimming and diving - The Kentucky men and women's swimming teams picked up their first wins of the season against Southern Illinois in a tri-meet. - Kentucky's men were led by sophomore Lucas Gerotto who picked up his second victory in the 100-butterfly (49.70) and took third in the 50-freestyle (21.15). The men also earned their first relay victory of the season in the 4x100-freestyle as Chris Lott, Will Heidler, Gerotto and Chris Thomas combined for the winning time of 3:05.62.The women pulled out two wins with senior Mandy Myers taking home first in the 100-buttefly with a time of 55.53. Sophomore Christina Bechtel earned her first win of the season as well with a win in the 200-butterfly with the winning time of 66.10.
Monday, Oct. 29 Women's golf at Alamo Invitational (San Antonio, Texas)
Tuesday, Oct. 30 Women's golf at Alamo Invitational (San Antonio, Texas)
Wednesday, Oct. 31 Women's soccer vs. Missouri (Orange Beach, Ala.) - 8:30 p.m. Men's soccer hosts UCF - 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 1 Men's basketball hosts Northwood - 7:00 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2 Volleyball hosts Ole Miss - 7:00 p.m. Men's tennis at Collegiate Clay Court Tournament (Orlando, Fla.) Swimming and diving hosts Auburn - 2:00 p.m. Women's soccer SEC Tournament Semifinals (Orange Beach, Ala.) - TBA
Saturday, Nov. 3 Men's tennis at Collegiate Clay Court Tournament (Orlando, Fla.) Rifle at North Carolina State Football hosts Vanderbilt - 12:00 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 4 Volleyball hosts South Carolina - 1:30 p.m. Men's tennis at Collegiate Clay Court Tournament (Orlando, Fla.) Men's soccer hosts South Carolina - 1:00 p.m. Women's soccer SEC Tournament Championship (Orange Beach, Ala.) • TBA
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Oct. 21:
Men's soccer: Dylan Asher
Junior Dylan Asher registered a prolific week in leading the Wildcats to two crucial Conference USA wins ... With UK leading scorer and starting forward Tyler Riggs out for both games due to injury, Asher - a two-time All-Conference USA defender - made his two first career starts at forward ... He finished with his first four career goals in the two games, with the eighth hat trick in UK history during a win over FIU ... During the 1-0 win at 10-win Marshall on Wednesday, Asher scored the game-winning goal in 54th minute, his first-career tally ... In the win against FIU, Asher had a career day for the Wildcats, notching goals in the third, 41st, and 57th minute to record the eighth hat trick in Kentucky soccer history ... His goals were dynamic during the week, including a diving header for the hat trick in the 57th frame vs. FIU ... The Richardson, Texas, native fired a total of four shots in the week, connecting at a 1.000 clip with all four finding nylon ... A two-time All-Conference USA selection, a preseason All-Conference USA honoree and a freshman All-American in 2010, Asher has played in 45 games with 43 starts in his career with four goals and three assists.
Volleyball: Whitney Billings
Junior Whitney Billings provided magnificent defensive play in guiding UK to a 1-1 weekend. Billings led the team in every statistical category this week in kills (4.17), hitting percentage (.367), digs (22) and blocks (8). She paced the Wildcats in both digs and kills in both matches this week including a five-block, 14-dig performance in a 3-0 win over LSU. She also provided an offensive spark with a team-high 16 kills on a blazing .481 hitting clip for her 23rd career double-double and the 10th of the season against the Tigers. She logged 32 serve-receive chances and did not commit a single error in that category. The win over LSU marked the 10th time this season the junior topped 10-or more digs and just the third time with five or more blocks. For the week she was well over her season averages in both digs (3.67 vs. 2.70) and blocks (1.33 vs. 0.87).
Football: Landon Foster
Foster was key for Kentucky in switching field position, launching six punts and pinning UGA inside its own 20-yard line three times. Foster averaged 44.5 yards per punt against the Bulldogs while also drilling a 53-yarder. He also did not have a touchback. Individually, Foster ranks fifth in the conference and 21st nationally in punting with a 43.1-yard average. He is third among true freshman punters in the nation and first in the conference in that category. As a team, Kentucky sits 20th in the nation and fifth in the Southeastern Conference in net punting at 39.95 yards per punt.
Women's soccer: Arin Gilliland
Sophomore Arin Gilliland continued her stellar season, capturing the game-winning goal vs. South Carolina on Friday night in a 1-0 defensive showcase and also scoring in Sunday's 2-1 come-from-behind win over Auburn. Gilliland has now scored a point in five of Kentucky's last six games, including scoring a goal in each of the last three games, with two game winners.
Women's soccer: Olivia Jester
Freshman Olivia Jester picked a perfect time to score her first-career goal, as the Cincinnati, Ohio native tallied the game-winning goal on Sunday afternoon in a 2-1 win over Auburn. Jester has played over 1,400 minutes this season and has started in every game this season. The goal was a header off an Alyssa Telang corner kick, and helped guide UK to its fourth-straight win.
Rifle: Henri Junghänel
Senior Henri Junghänel recorded a historic performance in Kentucky's record-breaking win over No. 4 Army. Contributing to Kentucky's 4716, a new school record, Junghänel bested the previous smallbore program high with a 592. The previous school record, held by Junghänel, was 590. Junghänel added a 594 in air rifle to bring his aggregate score to 1186, also a new program best. Two days earlier, Junghänel led the Wildcats to a 4676 - 4605 win over No. 10 Murray State. Junghänel recorded team highs in smallbore and air rifle, shooting a 587 in smallbore and 590 in air rifle. Through three matches, Junghänel leads the team in smallbore scoring average (589.5) and air rifles scoring average (591.7) on the year.
Women's soccer: Kayla King
After a weekend in which Kayla King recorded back-to-back shutouts, the Louisville, Ky., native backed it up with a 2-0-0 weekend in net, in which she made seven saves and also shutout South Carolina on Friday night. Until Auburn finally got a shot past the line, King went 322 minutes in the cage without allowing a goal. In addition, Auburn missed a PK while King was in net that would have given AU the 2-0 lead in the opening half of play.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Oct. 14:
Women's soccer: Arin Gilliland
Sophomore Arin Gilliland scored the game-winning goal Sunday in a 1-0 win on the road at Georgia while also collecting the assist on the game-winning goal to Kelli Hubly in a 1-0 win at Tennessee as UK completed the weekend sweep. The Lexinton, Ky., native now leads Kentucky with 15 points on the season, striking for five goals and five assists. The game-winning goal by Gilliand was her second on the season.
Volleyball: Christine Hartmann
Senior Christine Hartmann directed the UK offense to a pair of sweeps of SEC Western Division foes including handing Texas A&M just its second loss of the season in league action. Against the Aggies, Hartmann led the Blue and White to a .351 hitting percentage which is the highest percentage yielded by Texas A&M this season. The Aggies lead the league in opponent hitting percentage allowing .143 for the season and .159 against league foes - and that's following yesterday's match. The previous best hitting clip allowed by A&M was a .229 clip, also to Kentucky. Hartmann dished out 39 assists and led UK to 14 or more kills in all three sets including 18 in the second set and 17 in the set-clinching win. UK hit above .400 for a stanza twice in the match. Furthermore, the 39 assists for a three-set match is a season-best for the senior. Hartmann's defensive prowess guided the Wildcats to a win over visiting Mississippi State. Hartmann had a squad-best eight digs and as well as a team-high three blocks to lead the way against the Bulldogs.
Rifle: Emily Holsopple
Junior Emily Holsopple led Kentucky in air rifle during the first match of the year, posting a 592 Saturday in Lincoln, Neb. To go along with her 592 in air rifle, Holsopple posted a 587 in smallbore to record an aggregate score of 1179. Holsopple's 592 came from steady shooting throughout and was just above her 2011-12 air rifle season average of 591.9.
Women's soccer: Kelli Hubly
Freshman Kelli Hubly added to her team lead, scoring her fifth goal of the season in Knoxville, Tenn., as UK charted a 1-0 win over Tennessee. The tally was the game's only goal, and was struck in the 70th minute. The game-winner was Hubly's second of the season and now stands second on the team with 12 points.
Rifle: Henri Junghänel
Senior Henri Junghänel opened the 2012-13 campaign with a bang, shooting a 590 in smallbore against Nebraska. Junghänel's 590 marks the highest smallbore score for a Wildcat since Ethan Settlemires shot a 590 in the 2011 NCAA Championships and goes down as a personal best. Junghänel led the team with a total aggregate score of 1181, after shooting a 591 in air rifle. Junghänel's performance helped the preseason No. 2 Wildcats knock off No. 4 Nebraska, moving the Wildcats to 1-0 with the conference win.
Women's soccer: Kayla King
Junior Kayla King had her best weekend in the Blue and White, recording back-to-back, 90-minute shutouts on the road at Tennessee and Georgia. The Louisville, Ky., native had a career high 10 saves on Sunday in Athens and kept a clean sheet vs. Tennessee on Friday night as the Wildcats picked up a crucial six points. King fended off 36 shots over the two games and dropped her GAA to 0.81 on the season. The back-to-back shutouts was a career first for King, as she had recorded one prior in her career entering the weekend.
Men's soccer: Matt Lodge
Senior midfielder Matt Lodge connected on his first career penalty kick goal as the game-winning tally in leading UK to a 2-1 comeback win at No. 25 UAB on Saturday ... Lodge finished the penalty after freshman forward Caleb Richardson forced the attempt by drawing a foul on a run in the box ... The win for UK was its first over UAB since the 2008 season and marked UK's first comeback win of the year ... A native of Rossington, England, Lodge has six goals in 2012 and owns 23 in his sparkling four-year career ... He ranks tied for fourth in UK career history in goals and sixth in points (61) ... With his eighth career game-winning goal - and his second in 2012 - Lodge ranks tied fourth in program history ... In the win at UAB, Lodge fired a club-best three shots and now has a school-record 177 in his career.
Men's golf: Chase Parker
Chase Parker recorded his best finish of the year thus far, finishing in a tie for sixth individually at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational, Oct. 8-9. The Augusta, Ga., native fired a 3-over-par, 75 in round one before concluding the 36-hole stroke-play tournament with a 2-over-par, 74 in the second round. Parker was 5-over for the event and helped lead the Wildcats to a fourth place finish against a competitive 11-team field.
Volleyball: Sara Schwarzwalder
Freshman Sara Schwarzwalder returned to the lineup this week and provided a spark for the Wildcats en route to a 2-0 weekend. Schwarzwalder was magnificent in helping lead UK past Texas A&M for the second time this season. The freshman logged seven kills on a .667 hitting percentage. Both the kill total as well as the hitting percentage are career-bests for the Ohio native within SEC play. She also pitched in with a career-high two digs in the victory. Her three blocks against Mississippi State ranked as a team-best in leading UK to a win over the Bulldogs in Rupp Arena.
Men's soccer: Jack Van Arsdale
Junior goalkeeper Jack Van Arsdale saved five shots in a stellar performance to lead UK to a win at No. 25 UAB on Saturday night ... Van Arsdale charted five saves, including several leaping, diving and fully extended efforts to thwart scoring chances for the physical Blazers ... On the year Van Arsdale has a 1.39 goals-against average in 11 games and 970 minutes, saving 32 shots with two shutouts ... The native of Richmond, Va., has now shined in UK's two wins over top-25 foes on the road in 2012, also posting a six-save performance in a 1-0 win at No. 18 Louisville on Sept. 14 ... Van Arsdale has now started eight consecutive games in goal for UK, sporting a 1.34 goals-against average in those games, with UK owning a 5-2-1 record.
Football - The Kentucky football team fell over the weekend to Arkansas 49-7 in Fayetteville. The game was suspended because of lightning twice. The second delay was with 5:08 remaining in the third quarter and Arkansas leading 49-7. The game would not resume. - In the third quarter, freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow threw his first collegiate touchdown pass, a 61-yard play to La'Rod King. King now has 1,569 receiving yards in his career, moving past Anthony White for seventh place on the UK career receiving yardage list. He also has 17 receiving TDs in his career, tying Steve Meilinger for fifth place on the UK career list. - Kentucky is fielding one of the nation's youngest teams, playing 14 true freshmen and 26 total (true and redshirt) frosh, one of the nation's top-five teams in each category. True freshman cornerback Cody Quinn led UK in tackles with a career-best seven.
Volleyball - The Kentucky volleyball team enjoyed a 2-0 week against SEC Western Division foes racking up a pair of sweeps over Mississippi State and Texas A&M. UK captured the win over the Bulldogs in Rupp Arena in front of a Craig Skinner era record crowd of 5,162 fans. - Kentucky then turned around and earned an impressive sweep of the Western Division leading Texas A&M Aggies. Senior setter Christine Hartmann directed the offense to the tune of 49 kills on a blazing .351 hitting percentage. The .351 clip is the highest hitting percentage surrendered by the Aggies this season who currently lead the league in opponent hitting percentage. - Freshman Sara Schwarzwalder led the offensive effort against the Aggies with seven kills on .667 hitting, which both rank as career-highs within conference action.
Women's soccer - Junior Kayla King recorded back-to-back shutouts for the first time in her career, dropping her season GAA to a miniscule .833. The Louisville, Ky., native had a career high 10 saves on Sunday in Athens and kept a clean sheet vs. Tennessee on Friday night as the Wildcats picked up a crucial six points. King fended off 36 shots over the two games - Arin Gilliland scored the game-winning goal vs. Georgia, scoring her fifth goal of the season, adding to her team lead of 15 points on the season. In addition, the Lexington, Ky., native tallied the assist in the game-winning goal to Kelli Hubly in the win over Tennessee.
Men's soccer - The Kentucky men's soccer team continued its rugged schedule to open the 2012 season, traveling to face No. 25 UAB on Saturday and posting a 2-1 comeback win with a pair of second-half tallies. - Kentucky faced off with its seventh ranked opponent of the 2012 season in facing UAB, with the Wildcats falling behind 1-0 early and rallying with goals from senior midfielders Charley Pettys and Matt Lodge for the comeback win. Lodge's goal marked the 23rd of his career, ranking fourth-best in UK history. - The Wildcats have been paced by a dynamic offensive unit in 2012 that has netted 23 goals in the first 13 games, averaging 1.77 goals per game and 12.2 shots a contest. Defensively, UK has a 1.51 goals-against average and owns an 85-69 advantage in corners.
Rifle - The Kentucky rifle team started off its season with a 4666 - 4643 victory over No. 4 Nebraska. - Senior Henri Junghanel led Kentucky in smallbore, posting a 591. Junghanel also shot a 591 in air rifle. - Junior Emily Holsopple shot a team-best 591 in air rifle after shooting a 587 in smallbore. Women's golf - Kentucky finished tied for 12th in the Tar Heel Invitational that was filled with 13 top-50 teams. - Junior Liz Breed was the high finisher for the Wildcats, finishing tied for 32nd at 9-over-par. Men's golf - The UK men's golf team placed fourth at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational this week, finishing just four strokes off from first. - The Wildcats also competed in the Bearcat Invitational this week as head coach Brian Craig sent Harrison Greenberry, Joseph Barr, Seth Blann and Matthew Anderson to compete in the event as individuals.
Cross country - The Kentucky women's cross country team produced a 12th-place performance at NCAA Pre-Nationals on Saturday in Louisville. - Macumber raced across the challenging E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park 6,000 meter course in 20:09.00 to notch her fourth top-10 finish in as many meets this season. - Oswald earned a time of 20:32.70 to finish in 23rd ensuring UK was the only unranked team at the nationally competitive meet with multiple top-25 performers. - The Wildcat men finished in 25th-place overall.
Upcoming schedule Monday, Oct. 15 Men's golf at Querencia Cabo Collegiate (San Jose del Cabo, Mexico)
Tuesday, Oct. 16 Men's golf at Querencia Cabo Collegiate (San Jose del Cabo, Mexico)
Wednesday, Oct. 17 Men's soccer at Marshall - 7:00 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18 Women's tennis at ITA Regionals (Lafayette, Ind.) Men's tennis at USTA/ITA Regional Indoor (Memphis, Tenn.) Friday, Oct. 19 Women's soccer hosts South Carolina - 6:30 p.m. Volleyball hosts Arkansas - 7:00 p.m. Women's tennis at ITA Regionals (Lafayette, Ind.) Men's tennis at USTA/ITA Regional Indoor (Memphis, Tenn.) Rifle at Murray State Swimming and diving hosts Tennessee and Indiana - 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 20 Women's tennis at ITA Regionals (Lafayette, Ind.) Men's tennis at USTA/ITA Regional Indoor (Memphis, Tenn.) Football hosts Georgia - 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 21 Volleyball hosts LSU- 1:30 p.m. Rifle hosts Army Women's tennis at ITA Regionals (Lafayette, Ind.) Men's tennis at USTA/ITA Regional Indoor (Memphis, Tenn.) Women's soccer hosts Auburn - 2:30 p.m. Men's soccer hosts Florida International - 5:00 p.m.
Junior Emily Holsopple looks to lead No. 2 Kentucky over No. 4 Nebraska this weekend. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
The Kentucky rifle team finished second in last season's NCAA Championships. As the Wildcats open up their 2012-13 campaign on the road at Nebraska on Saturday, Kentucky is ranked preseason No. 2 in the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association poll, once again right behind defending national champions Texas Christian University.
Kentucky didn't come away empty handed last year, taking home some hardware in the smallbore competition as national champions. With such high expectations coming into this year, head coach Harry Mullins feels comfortable with the lofty ranking placed upon this year's squad.
"I think we're in the top three or four," said Mullins. "We definitely have the talent pool equal to some of the other teams. Depth-wise, I think we haven't shown our depth like some of the other teams have so I think we're going to have to work on that some. We try to put ourselves in the situation to be in contention to have a good season."
If that's the formula they've followed the last several seasons, the team should be in good shape to compete for the national title once more this season. Over the last four years, Kentucky has finished fourth or better, including two second-place finishes and a national championship in 2011.
With what Kentucky has returning this season, the Wildcats should be able to carry the momentum of a runner-up performance last season. With the No. 2 preseason ranking, the players are likely to use that as motivation rather than added pressure.
The players expect and welcome the high expectations.
"I think for some of them it's an expected thing," Mullins said. "That's good and bad. It's unfortunate when you take that for granted. I think they look at it a little bit and the season's so long and the polls move differently and we change our team around differently."
Mullins certainly seems excited about those returning players as well. He mentioned junior Emily Holsopple and senior Henri Junghanel as workhorses for this year's squad. Freshman Connor Davis is expected to make an immediate impact.
With Kentucky's depth, the Cats have the luxury of moving some pieces around from event to event to get some experience for some of their younger shooters while still being competitive.
But the road certainly won't be easy for Kentucky as the Cats face several of the top-20 teams in the nation starting this weekend with No. 4 Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are an up-and-coming program after hiring Stacy Underwood as head coach prior to this season. Underwood served as an assistant coach to Mullins from 2007-12, becoming the first full-time assistant rifle coach in NCAA history.
Underwood was instrumental in helping lead Kentucky to its first NCAA national championship in 2011 and now looks to take her own program their starting this season in Nebraska. From the looks of things, the Huskers are already heading in the right direction. In its first competition, Nebraska defeated now No. 5 Alaska-Fairbanks, a perennial power in the sport.
With Nebraska already facing stiff competition in its first meet, the Huskers will already have a leg up on Kentucky, as the Cats will just be participating in their first event of the year. Though it's only their first event, this road meet could be very important down the road.
"I think what Nebraska did last week against Alaska-Fairbanks definitely earned them a lot of respect," said Mullins. "I think our (shooters), if they don't treat them with respect, will probably have to pay for that down the road. So this is a good test as far as making sure that we do give them the due diligence and respect that they deserve because they're a very strong and up-and-coming team."
With what Underwood accomplished during her time at Kentucky and the bonds she built along the way with some of the shooters on UK's current roster, emotions will likely be running high for both the players and Mullins himself. But despite what impact Underwood left on the program, UK isn't going to Nebraska for a reunion.
Mullins fully expects his team to put all emotions aside in Lincoln this weekend.
"I think we'll be competing against the course just like Nebraska's going to do," said Mullins, "Having the stigma of intimidation or whatever, I think Nebraska is a very viable opponent for them to compare our scores. And our guys are going to want to show Coach Underwood we love you, but we want to beat you."
But what Mullins really hopes to see is that the hard work in the offseason and preseason pays off. Though they are getting a bit of a late start to the season compared to other programs around the country, Mullins thinks his Wildcats will be ready to compete, even if they aren't quite to their potential just yet. He just hopes to see this team to continue to improve the rest of the season.
That all starts this weekend at Nebraska.
"I think our guys and girls have worked really hard in the last month and a half, and some of them during the summer, to perform at the level where they feel they should," said Mullins. "Are we 110 percent match-mode-ready? Probably not in that sense. Even if we shoot a big number, I think you'll see some really good things from us towards the end of the semester and beginning of next semester as well."