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Busy Friday in China for UK volleyball team

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It was another busy day in China for the Kentucky volleyball team, as the Wildcats moved to a hotel in downtown Shanghai during a packed day of activities.

Friday began with 90 minutes of study on campus at Shanghai University followed by lunch. It was then off to Shanghai Training Center to play with the Shanghai Juniors, the team the Cats beat in their first match on Thursday. Afterward, the Cats took a riverbank tour of Shanghai and saw the Chenghuang Temple, as well as the Oriental Pearl Tower.

Spotty Internet kept the Cats from posting any thoughts about the day, but they did manage to sneak a few posts out on Twitter and Instagram.





Highlights


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Head coach Rachel Lawson


Sophomore Sylver Samuel and Senior Lauren Cumbess



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Allison Peare's late-race kick propelled her to a second-place finish in the 800m after she finished second in the 1500 earlier on Sunday afternoon. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Allison Peare's late-race kick propelled her to a second-place finish in the 800m after she finished second in the 1500 earlier on Sunday afternoon. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Impressive performances came from all over the place for UK at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships this weekend.

After Andrew Evans took the discus title on Saturday, Keffri Neal, Ray Dykstra and Kendra Harrison -- who completed the hurdles double at 100 and 400 meters -- followed with gold medals of their own on championship Sunday.

Only one Wildcat, however, did something that Edrick Floreal simply couldn't explain.

"What Ally Peare did, that's just unheard of," Floreal said.

Within 90 minutes, Peare in ran in the finals of both the 1500m and 800m. To make things even more difficult, she had to qualify for the two grueling races in the preceding 48 hours.

The challenge is so great, in fact, that Floreal hesitates to even ask a student-athlete to face it.

"That's one of my greatest fears, to put somebody in the eight and 15, because the second one is always kind of god awful," Floreal said. "The kid is so lactic acid loaded up."

Defying biology, Peare managed second-place finishes in both. She tallied 16 points for her team, playing an important role as the UK women placed fourth, their best finish at SECs since 1983.

"It was a really great weekend for me," Peare said. "It's been really exciting and I'm just glad I was able to score a lot of points for the team."

Knowing the nature of the double, the coaching staff adjusted their projections for Peare's point-scoring down a bit entering the weekend. The senior, however, wasn't having any of it.

"I was only expected to score nine points," Peare said. "I even talked to Coach and I was like, 'I think I can score more than that.' "

She nearly eclipsed nine in her first race, finishing with a school-record time of 4:15.14 in the 1500. Afterward, women's distance coach Hakon DeVries pulled her aside to strategize for the 800.

"I had a lot of confidence in myself from Coach DeVries," Peare said. "He told me beforehand, that going into the 800, five other girls were coming back from the double of the 15. He said, 'I believe you can run 2:04.' "

Her time? 2:04.13.

Peare surged to the finish, nipping Georgia's Megan Malasarte by a mere tenth of a second.

"I thought, 'Man, no way you can come back after that 15 and do that.' " Floreal said. "And then when they took off in 57 (seconds through 400 meters), I thought, 'So much for us.' And then all of a sudden this little gal kept coming and then kept coming and then kicked in the home stretch. You're not supposed to be able to kick after running a 15. Your legs are not supposed to respond. I'm just so impressed."

For a little added perspective on Peare's feat, you needn't look any further than her UK teammate Keffri Neal. The junior won the 1500 and attempted the same double Peare pulled off, but finished eighth to account for 11 points. It was a more than respectable effort, but only makes Peare's all the more impressive.

"It takes a strong physical body and a strong personality as well," Neal said. "Maybe I'm not at that level yet but I'm trying to get there. She's a very good runner and I'm happy that she could run that fast."

Her coach, clearly, felt the same way.

With the women finishing fourth and the men coming in sixth -- their best SEC outdoor finish since 1996 -- the Cats turned in the clearest proof yet of the program's progress under Floreal. True to his nature, Floreal had already moved on to the next step when asked about it.

"Obviously the biggest trophy you get is the one you get at the NCAA," Floreal said. "We want to get ready for that and then position ourselves to do as best as we can and hopefully be a podium team at the NCAA. That's the goal of a program. That's what's going to define us."

Peare is on board, but she has so more immediate concerns to tend to first.

"I'm going to sleep very well tonight after I get a very good meal," she said.

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