Wildcats Capture UK Invitational Crown with Sweep of WVU
Sept. 10, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky volleyball team capped its non-conference slate with a decisive 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 26-24) sweep of West Virginia to claim the UK Invitational crown Saturday night in front of 1,017 fans in Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky concluded its non-conference portion of the schedule winning seven consecutive matches while dropping just one set in the run. UK now holds a 9-2 record entering Southeastern Conference action that begins Friday, Sept. 16 against Auburn. With the loss, West Virginia falls to 2-9 on the year.
"That was another good win for us," Kentucky coach Craig Skinnersaid. "It's tough to play seven matches in seven days with only dropping one set. We didn't perform our best tonight, but we continue to find a way to win in a variety of ways."
Junior Ashley Frazierwas tabbed the UK Invitational tournament's most valuable player after charting 11 kills in tonight's victory over the Mountaineers.
"Ashley continues to get better every match out," Skinner said. "We knew she could attack, but now she's really doing the little things like blocking. She was solid all weekend for us."
Junior Stephanie Klefot and senior Gretchen Gieslerjoined Frazier on the All-Tournament team. Klefot paced the back-line defense with a team-high 15 digs, while Giesler posted six kills and added a trio of blocks in tonight's win.
Giesler began the scoring for the Blue and White in the opening frame. UK attained a lead it would never relinquish during the entire set as the Wildcats rolled to a 25-18 opening frame win. Frazier led the offensive output with six kills on a .500 hitting percentage. Setter Christine Hartmannpassed out 16 assists and Klefot had seven digs in the stanza.
UK's blocking helped the Wildcats go into the break with a 2-0 advantage following a 25-22 second set win after six rejections in the set. Kentucky offense managed just 10 kills in the frame, but it was UK's defense that prevailed forcing West Virginia into nine attacking errors.
The Mountaineers grabbed an early lead at 2-1, but Hartmann and Giesler teamed up for a block followed by a kill from Frazier that ignited a UK run. O'Conner had a pair of kills to give the Wildcats a 23-19 lead, but West Virginia made things interesting with three consecutive kills to save set point. The visitors then served the ball into the net giving UK the set.
UK faced the most adversity in the third set as West Virginia earned a 19-14 lead midway through the frame. Frazier then posted a pair of kills and added an ace to bring the home squad to within 20-17 forcing West Virginia into a timeout.
Out of the break, UK's defense pressed the visitors into an attacking error and then O'Conner found a spot for a 20-19 deficit. After West Virginia halted UK's run, O'Conner had back-to-back kills and then Billings chipped in with a hammer as UK surged ahead 22-21.
The Mountaineers earned set point at 24-23, but UK would not be denied. The Blue and White came up with another huge defensive stop and then O'Conner gave the home team match point with her 13th kill of the match. Sophomore Elizabeth Koberstein'scrafty dunk capped the weekend for the Wildcats as UK earned its second consecutive UK Invite crown.
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.