Tenacious Cats Sweep Western Kentucky

Sept. 2, 2011

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - After trailing in every set the Kentucky volleyball team's tenacious effort propelled the home team to a 3-0 (26-24, 25-23, 25-23) sweep of visiting Western Kentucky on the opening night of the Kentucky Classic. UK clawed out of a deficit in every set to earn its first sweep of the season behind a tremendous blocking performance and a team-high 11 kills from freshman Lauren O'Conner.

The Blue and White improve to 3-2 on the season with the victory, while Western Kentucky drops its first contest of the season and moves to 3-1 overall.

"Blocking is the biggest momentum changer in our game," UK coach Craig Skinnersaid. "I think it was evident in tonight's match. Our left side blockers really made some key adjustments with Western Kentucky's fast-paced offense."

O'Conner led the attack with a career-high 11 kills while chipping in with three blocks. Junior Ashley Frazier posted seven kills and turned back five opponent attacks. Seniors Ann Armes and Gretchen Gieslerboth notched six kills apiece, with Giesler leading the defensive effort with six turn-backs.

Setter Christine Hartmanndished out 32 assists and found a hole four times for kills of her own good for a team-best .667 hitting clip.

Junior libero Stephanie Klefot led a back-line defense that had every player account for two or more digs. Klefot notched 15 scoops on the night followed by seven each from freshman Jackie Napperand Hartmann.

Western Kentucky jumped out in front by a 3-0 margin to open the match, but UK fired back with three straight kills to tie the score at three. WKU maintained a three-point edge for most of the opening portion of the set, but the Blue and White finally tied it again at 14 apiece with a thundering kill from Frazier. WKU continued its advantage until back-to-back kills from the right hand of O'Conner knotted the score at 22.

A kill from Giesler lifted UK to a one-point lead before Western tied the score once again. Frazier's third kill of the stanza gave the Blue and White set-point and the UK defense forced a Western Kentucky attacking error for the clinching point to capture the first frame by a 26-24 margin.

UK totaled a match-high 19 kills on .308 hitting in the set. O'Conner led all scorers with eight hammers on a blistering .571 hitting percentage. The Lady Hilltoppers were limited to 14 kills on .270 hitting in the set.

The visitors opened up the second set by grabbing an early lead. The Wildcats fought back to tie the score at 10 following a dunk from Hartmann. UK took the lead when the duo of Frazier and Armes combined for a block.

In one of the best plays of the night in an extended rally, sophomore Jessi Greenbergmade a diving save in the middle of the court to keep the play alive. It eventually resulted in the second block from the Armes-Frazier combination to bring the 999 fans in Memorial to its feet and give the Wildcats an advantage that they would not relinquish.

Kentucky capped the set with an Armes kill and benefited from a service error from the Lady Hilltoppers to go into the lockerroom leading 2-0 following a 25-23 second set win. UK posted four momentum-changing blocks in the set as the offense managed 12 kills on .167 hitting led by three from Armes.

UK grabbed the early edge in the third frame when O'Conner and Giesler teamed up for a block followed by a service ace from Klefot. Western Kentucky, however, would fire back and tie the score at three before grabbing a three-point edge at 12-9.

Kentucky knotted the score at 16 behind the duo of sophomore Whitney Billingsand Armes with one of six UK blocks in the stanza. The second ace of the set from the hand of Klefot lifted UK to a 17-16 lead. The Lady Hilltoppers would not go away as the visitors reclaimed the lead and marched ahead 20-17.

Consecutive kills from Billings and Giesler brought UK back to within one at 20-19. An attacking error by the visitors gave the Wildcats a lead at 22-21 they would never surrender as the home team held on for a 25-23 final set win capped off by a kill from Frazier.

UK's defense was at its best in the final set with six rejections led by four from Giesler. The Wildcat offense tallied 10 kills with Frazier pacing the attack with three in the set.

The Blue and White return to action with a pair of matchups in the Kentucky Classic Saturday. UK will take on Ohio at 11 a.m. ET and Virginia Tech at approximately 7:30 tomorrow evening.

Kentucky's Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 9-10. UK is one of four sites selected for Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas, from the Lexington Region. Tickets are on sale now through the UK Ticket Office.

Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the UK volleyball team and all of Kentucky's 22 teams.

Kentucky Classic Tournament Schedule

Friday, Sept. 2

Ohio def. Virginia Tech - 3-2 (16-25, 25-23, 15-25, 25-23, 16-14)
Kentucky def. WKU - 3-0 (26-24, 25-23, 25-23)

Saturday, Sept. 3
Ohio at Kentucky - 11 a.m.
WKU vs. Virginia Tech - 1 p.m.
WKU vs. Ohio - 5:30 p.m.
Virginia Tech at Kentucky - 7:30 p.m.