No. 19 Kentucky Rebounds with Win Over LSU
BATON ROUGE, La. – The 19th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats took care of business on the road Sunday, taking down LSU, 3-0 (25-21, 25-9, 27-25), in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Wildcats played some of their best volleyball to date in a dominant second set. The team allowed just nine points throughout, holding LSU to -.097 hitting with a stingy performance from the back line and five blocks. Kentucky was also extremely efficient, hitting .524 in the second with 11 kills and no errors in 21 attempts.
“We did well with our offensive efficiency today,” said 11th-year head coach Craig Skinner. “We did a good job of limiting errors and I was proud of our left sides coming up with points when we needed them.”
The win in the final road match of the regular season Kentucky sits at 19-9 in 2015 with a 12-4 mark in Southeastern conference play. The loss moves LSU to 9-17 and 5-10 in league action. UK is set to close out the regular season with home matches bookending the Thanksgiving holiday, as the Wildcats face Georgia on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. before Senior Day against Auburn on Nov. 27 at the same time in Memorial Coliseum.
The Wildcats offense – which hit .350 in the outing – was led by sophomores Kaz Brown and Darian Mack and junior Anni Thomasson, all of which registered double-figure kills. Brown led the team in kills (12), hitting percentage (.647) and blocks (5), with her hitting percentage and blocks being match-highs. Mack had 11 kills along with two digs and two blocks. Thomasson notched 10 kills and had her ninth double-double of the season with a match-high 13 digs. The junior added two assists, two aces and a block.
Senior setter Morgan Bergren had a match-best 35 assists while adding five kills, six digs and four blocks. Sophomore middle Emily Franklin added four kills, three digs and three blocks. Senior Sara Schwarzwalder and freshmen Anna Nyberg and Brooke Morgan each recorded a kill in the match.
Sophomore Libero Ashley Dusek continued to anchor the back line, notching 11 digs during the match while adding four assists. Freshman Olivia Dailey played on the back line, recording five digs and an ace. McKenzie Watson also added a dig, while sophomore Harper Hempel saw time as well.
The first set opened with LSU’s Cati Leak – who suffered a season-ending injury at UK earlier this season – serving for the Tigers before the point on a kill from Brown. The sophomore middle would get another kill before rotating out, with Dusek serving twice in a row and forcing two LSU errors for a 4-1 lead. Both sides swapped points, before a kill from Thomasson on her first touch made it 8-5 for the Wildcats. Brown would grab another pair of kills to make it 11-7 for the Cats in the early going. Franklin earned the solo stuff to give Kentucky a three-point advantage headed into the media timeout at 15-12. LSU pulled within one at 16-15 before a strike from Thomasson opened the gap back up to two. A big swing from Mack followed by a slide attack from Franklin made it 20-17, where LSU took its first timeout. UK would take two of the next three coming out of the timeout before LSU used its final break at 22-18. LSU would pull within two on a 3-1 run before UK took its first timeout at 23-21. Franklin was in on the final two points with a block and a kill in the 25-21 victory.
UK came into the second on a roll, taking five of the first six points with Brown and Thomasson being responsible for all five. Bergren notched a solo rejection to make it 8-3 in the early portion of the second. A block from Brown and Morgan led UK to a six-point lead at 12-6 and backed LSU into its first timeout. Kentucky continued to roll, with five straight points out of the break highlighted by an ace from Dailey and a block from Brown and Thomasson, forcing the final LSU timeout with a 17-6 lead. Nyberg notched her first kill of the match for a 23-9 lead before two LSU errors capped the match at 25-9.
Both sides swapped points in the early going before an overpass kill from Mack made a two-point gap at 5-3 for Kentucky. A cross-court kill marked Thomasson’s ninth of the afternoon for a 10-5 lead. Kentucky took two of the next three points, with LSU calling timeout with a 12-6 UK advantage. Kentucky continued to roll, as Bergren, Brown and Mack teamed up for a big block to make it 16-7. LSU took four of the next five points to pull within six, before a dump for Bergren made it 18-11. A kill from Schwarzwalder made Kentucky the first to 20. A kill from Thomasson made it 21-15 and gave the lone junior her ninth double-double of the season. LSU pulled within four at 21-17 and the Wildcats took their first timeout. LSU took two more before a kill from Brown got the team out of its rut, making the score 22-19. UK took a 24-21 lead before LSU fended off three match points to tie the match at 24-all. The two sides tied again at 25-all before a kill from Mack and an LSU error sealed the deal with a 27-25 victory in the third.
By the Numbers
.093 – The Wildcat defense stood tall, holding LSU to .093 hitting in the sweep.
11 – The 3-0 win marked Kentucky’s 11th sweep of the 2015 season.
9 – With 10 kills and 13 digs, junior Anni Thomasson notched her team-high ninth double-double of the season.
3 – Three players in Brown, Mack and Thomasson recroded double-figure kills
2 – With 141 block assists this season following five today, Kaz Brown ranks second all-time in single-season block assists.
Premier Sports Management announced its 10 finalists for the annual Senior CLASS Award on Friday, Oct. 30, with standout setter Morgan Bergren being one of the remaining candidates for the honor. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to help select the winner, and fans are encouraged to vote on the Senior CLASS Award website through Dec. 7. Fans can vote once a day until the Dec. 7 cut off.
Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 11-12. UK is one of four sites selected for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in Omaha, Neb., from the Lexington Region. This marks the third time in five seasons Memorial Coliseum will host this premier volleyball event.