No. 21 UK Roars Back to Defeat Northwestern

Aug. 28, 2009

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Behind a dazzling offensive performance the No. 21 Kentucky volleyball team roared back to a 3-1 victory over visiting Northwestern after dropping the opening frame to begin the year in front of 1,520 fans at Memorial Coliseum. Kentucky claimed the victory by set scores of 23-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-22.

A number of Wildcats had tremendous opening day performances including a career-best effort from sophomore middle blocker Gretchen Giesler. Giesler posted career-best numbers in kills (10) and blocks (4) while making her very first career start.

UK's director of the offensive unit, Sarah Rumely, tallied 54 assists in leading UK to 61 kills on the night on a .272 hitting percentage. After a shaky start where the Wildcats hit under .100, UK fired back with hitting percentages of .381, .333 and .359 in the ensuing stanzas.

"It was great to get the first win, but we did start out a little slow in the first set," said Kentucky coach Craig Skinner. "After that first set we hit over .330 in each set, so it was a great match offensively."

The junior tandem of Sarah Mendoza and Lauren Rapp led the offensive production with 17 kills apiece. They both also notched double-double efforts. Rapp scooped up 11 digs and Mendoza contributed with 10.

Defensively, junior Laura Stokowski was a fixture in the back-row matching a career-high with 17 digs in the opening effort. Rapp paved the way at the net turning back a team-best five attacks.

Neither team got off to a great start in the opening set as both teams struggled offensively posting below .100 hitting percentages. Mendoza, however, jumped out to a quick start with four kills in the opening frame.

Rapp exploded in the second set rolling in helping the Wildcats roll to an easy 25-18 victory to tie the match at one set apiece. The junior from Indianapolis tallied 10 kills in the stanza alone, while Rumely dished out 16 assists.

Kentucky's defense got in on the action in the third set tallying 5.5 team blocks in helping UK to a 25-21 set victory to break the set-tie. Mendoza had seven kills on a .538 attack percentage as Kentucky began to pull away.

In the deciding set, Mendoza and Rapp combined for seven kills and the team struck for three blocks. Junior Blaire Hiler contributed four kills in the frame to aid the Wildcat cause.

With the opening day victory, UK is now 5-0 under Skinner in opening day matches.

The Kentucky Classic resumes Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. Kentucky will take on Western Carolina to open the day that will see four matches played at Memorial Coliseum.

Florida International began the tournament with a 3-0 victory over Western Carolina. Olga Vergun led the Golden Panthers with 12 kills in the victory.

Complete coverage of the Kentucky Classic can be found at including live stats, video feed and recaps following the day's events.

Kentucky Classic Schedule

Saturday, August 29
Western Carolina at Kentucky; 10 a.m.
Northwestern vs. Florida International; Noon
Western Carolina vs. Northwestern; 5 p.m.
Florida International at Kentucky; 7 p.m.