Hiler Shines in UK's Five-Set Win over Kansas State

Sept. 11, 2010

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Senior Blaire Hiler had a night to remember in leading the 16th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team to a hard-earned 3-2, (19-25, 25-23, 25-16, 20-25, 15-8) victory over visiting Kansas State to wrap up the non-conference portion of UK's schedule. Hiler struck for her first career double-double effort with career-bests in kills (16) and digs (14) to pace the Wildcats.

Kentucky (6-4) has now played in five-set matches in three of its last four matches and earns a win over Kansas State for the second consecutive season.

"I'm proud of this group for gutting out another five set match and getting the win," UK coach Craig Skinner said. "We had a tough preseason and we improved a ton. Our best volleyball is ahead of us, and I really enjoy coaching this group."

Freshmen Whitney Billings and Elizabeth Koberstein each had a double-double as well. Billings totaled 14 kills and a career-high 16 digs. Koberstein saw the most extensive action of her career and led the UK offense to the tune of 34 assists while chipping in 11 digs. Both figures are career-highs. Fellow freshman Alexandra Morgan matched a career-best with eight kills and added seven blocks. Senior Lauren Rapp matched Morgan with seven blocks while adding five hammers. Junior Ann Armes totaled six kills, 10 digs and three blocks to aid the UK cause. Hiler and Billings were named to the UK Invitational All-Tournament team for their efforts.

Kentucky scooped up 75 digs on the night with five players registering 10 or more. Sophomore Stephanie Klefot led the way with a team-best 17 digs for her 10th straight match leading the team in that category.

In the decisive fifth frame, Kentucky posted a .231 hitting percentage with eight kills to roll to a 15-8 win. Armes scored three kills in the stanza with Hiler picking up eight digs in the set.

Kansas State scored the opening two points before the Wildcats tied the score at four by forcing the visitors' into a hitting error. Kentucky broke open the 5-5 tie with a 5-0 run capped off by consecutive kills from Rapp. Kentucky would continue to roll by finishing the set on a 5-3 run ending with kills from Morgan and Armes and a 15-8 clinching victory.

After dropping the opening set by a 25-19 margin, Kentucky came roaring back for 25-23 and 25-16 set two and three victories.

UK used a match-high .262 hitting clip in the second frame led by 10 kills from Hiler on .364 hitting. The lead changed hands eight times and there were 13 tie scores in the set. The teams exchanged points all the way until a 23-23 tie. Hiler would waste little time in leading the Blue and White to a tie into the locker room with set-ending kills to cap off the second frame.

The Blue and White then captured the third set behind a 25-16 performance. UK's defense was on display in the set with 13 digs and four blocks while limiting Kansas State to a negative .054 hitting clip.

Billings paced the offense with four kills in the set with Koberstein finding six different UK players to register a kill. Kentucky claimed a lead at 9-8 off of a kill from Billings and would never look back. The Wildcats closed out the stanza on a 15-8 run.

Kansas State answered in the fourth set with a 25-20 win to force the deciding frame. The visitors limited the Wildcats to just nine kills in the set en route to the win.

With the UK Invitational the Blue and White close out the non-conference portion of its slate. Kentucky will open Southeastern Conference action at home Fri., Sept. 17 when it hosts No. 4 Florida.

Follow along all season long with the Wildcats at UKathletics.com.