Workman, Napper Lead UK to Win at Louisville
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - On a night where a number of personal records fell, it was a total-team effort that resulted in a 3-1 (25-20, 15-25, 25-21, 25-19) win on the road at Louisville for No. 16 Kentucky on Tuesday evening. The win marked the first victory in Louisville since 1993 and the first during the Craig Skinner era.
"It's a step in our process to get to the next level," Skinner said on the win. "You have to be able to win in different gyms, different color uniforms, different fans. There are a lot of tough places in the SEC to play, and to compete at the highest level, we have to learn how to do this. It was a big win and obviously a big win for the kids."
Junior Shelby Workman erupted for a career-high 21 kills on a career-best .348 hitting percentage. She also turned in the first double-double of her career by chipping in with 12 digs. Thirteen of her 21 kills came in the most explosive offensive performance in a single frame in recent memory for the Cats.
"She took over, I'm proud of her for doing that, she took the load," Skinner said on Workman's effort. "The other half of that is Morgan [Bergren] found her a lot, gave her opportunities to score points. She scored with one blocker or two blockers, off-speed and hitting it hard. She really carried us in that third set, and she's capable of doing that."
Not to be out-shined, senior Jackie Napper, a Louisville native, logged a career-best 26 digs, topping her previous high of 24 which she set as a junior. Napper has totaled 10 or more digs in every match this season and has strung together 15 or more in five-straight matches.
Kentucky improves to 6-1 on the season, while Louisville falls to 3-3 on the year. UK will remain on the road for its final round-robin tournament of the season. UK travels to No. 17 North Carolina Sept. 12-13. In addition to the Tar Heels, UK will also face VCU and Georgia Southern while in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The records continued to fall for the Wildcats as junior setter Morgan Bergren dished out 55 assists - the most in a four-set match in the 25-point rally scoring era - as she led the Blue and White to 67 kills on .285 hitting. The 67 slams mark a program record for kills by a unit in the 25-point rally scoring era. Bergren also added 11 digs for a double-double effort, the third of the year for the Muncie, Ind., native.
Sophomore outside hitter Anni Thomasson notched 14 kills and 13 digs for her fifth double-double of the young season. Senior Lauren O'Conner was the final Wildcat to reach double-figures with 14 kills on .290 hitting and a season-high five digs.
Junior Sara Schwarzwalder chipped in with seven kills and a team-high tying three blocks. Sophomore Kelsey Wolf had seven digs with six coming over the final two sets.
Freshmen Kaz Brown had four kills and three blocks, Sharay Barnes notched a pair of kills in a set of action, Emily Franklin had a kill and a block in the fourth set, Darian Mack charted a dig and Ashley Dusek posted two digs in the total-team effort.
After the Cardinals scored the match's first two points, O'Conner laced one along the line for UK's opening tally. A block from the Thomasson-Schwarzwalder duo knotted things at four apiece. The home team would quickly score the following two points before Thomasson beat the defense in the back left corner. An erroneous attack from the Cardinals again tied the score. UK grabbed its first lead with a back-row kill from Thomasson at 7-6. From there, the teams would exchange points until UK shook loose for two-straight off kills from Thomasson and Schwarzwalder to grab a 14-12 edge. The Cards would score three of the next four points to tie things once again, this time at 15.
Workman helped ignite a rally for the visitors beginning with a kill. She then teamed with Brown on a block and O'Conner capped the spurt with a service ace to push the score to 19-16 in favor of the Blue and White. Louisville opted for a timeout. It was all the more breathing room the Cats would need as the Cards never got closer than two en route to a 25-20 opening set victory. The Blue and White ended the frame on a 5-2 run to close out the win.
Kentucky dominated all phases of the match in the opening set winning the offensive battle with 17 kills on a .371 hitting clip compared to Louisville's .158 clip and 13 hammers. UK passed out 17 assists and scooped up an equal number of digs. Workman had five kills and Thomasson and O'Conner both had four apiece. Napper led the defensive effort with seven digs, while Thomasson and Brown each added a pair of blocks.
Louisville grabbed the lead at 4-3 in the second set and never looked back. The home team claimed a 25-15 second set win to even the match at one set apiece into the break. The Cardinals logged 14 kills on .429 hitting. Kentucky had 11 kills on .129 hitting and committed seven hitting errors in the frame.
After Louisville scored the third set's first three points, O'Conner came through the middle with a powerful slam. Three-straight kills from Workman gave UK the lead at 5-4. The Wildcats' spurt continued as the home team was forced into an errant attack and Bergren found Workman for her fourth kill of the early going for a 7-4 Kentucky advantage. Louisville then opted for an early timeout.
Kentucky kept the pressure on as Schwarzwalder capitalized following a lengthy rally and Workman then struck for consecutive hammers for a 10-4 difference. The result was a 9-0 run giving UK all the more distance it would need as the visitors took a 2-1 edge in the match with a 25-21 third set win.
Workman simply exploded in what would have been a career-match prior to entering her junior season. She had 13 kills - equaling the most in a match as a sophomore - on .632 hitting to pave the way for the Cats. As a unit, the Blue and White totaled 22 kills in the frame on a .264 clip. The Blue and White also posted 29 digs in the frame with Napper picking up eight.
Louisville jumped out to a 4-1 edge in the fourth frame and eventually stretched the advantage to as many as four. Kentucky then strung together a 7-2 run to take its first lead of the set at 11-10 following a cross-court shot from O'Conner. A kill down the line from the left hand of Workman was touched by a Cardinal followed by Thomasson finding a spot to stretch UK's lead to three at 14-11 and the home elected to take a timeout.
Out of the break, O'Conner smashed a shot into the center of the court and then Thomasson and Emily Franklin teamed up for a rejection to give UK a 16-12 edge. After a pair of points from the Cardinals, Franklin came back with a quick set and following Napper's career-high 25th dig of the match, Schwarzwalder tallied a kill to once again give UK a four-point spread at 18-14. Louisville took its final timeout.
Following the timeout, Wolf came up with two superb rally-saving kills and Thomasson eventually won a battle at the net to lift Kentucky to its largest lead of the set at 19-14. The momentum totally swung in UK's favor as the Cardinals were flustered into an attacking error to give UK a 20-14 lead. The visitors then charted back-to-back points to pull back to within four at 20-16 and Skinner wisely opted for a timeout to quell the threat.
Thomasson spelled the Cardinal run with a kill down the line following the timeout and an overpass came right to Schwarzwalder who calmly placed it down. Schwarzwalder then teamed with Bergren for a rejection and Thomasson laced another kill for a four-point Wildcat swing for a 24-16 and match point. The Cardinals saved the match three times before Bergren found Thomasson for a cross court shot and the 25-19 fourth set win to capture the match.
Kentucky notched 17 kills on a match-high .359 attacking clip in the final stanza. Thomasson had five kills and O'Conner added four. Napper led the way again, defensively, with eight digs. Louisville was limited to 12 kills on .171 hitting.
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