No. 17 Kentucky Cruises to 10-0 Start
Sept. 12, 2009
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Behind an all-around team performance the No. 17 Kentucky volleyball team cruised to a 3-0 (25-22, 25-12, 25-17) sweep of Portland to improve to 10-0 on the season. For the third consecutive weekend the Wildcats took home a tournament title as the Blue and White went 3-0 at the Kansas State Invitational.
It was a total team effort for the Wildcats as once again the entire lineup saw action. Junior Sarah Mendoza and sophomore Becky Pavan led the way with nine kills apiece as eight UK players tallied two or more hammers in the victory. Senior setter Sarah Rumely posted 37 assists and earned six kills of her own. Sophomore Gretchen Giesler paced the front line with four blocks and added seven kills. Juniors Blaire Hiler and Ann Armes had seven and six kills respectively. Senior BriAnne Sauer led the back row effort with a match-high 12 scoops.
"I'm really proud of this team coming away with three victories over some very good opponents," said Kentucky coach Craig Skinner. "We saw a lot of different looks this weekend, and we were effective when we needed to be. A number of individuals really stepped up at different times and that is why we are such a balanced and diverse team. We faced some tough competition and our competitors competed and made a difference."
Kentucky earned control of the opening set when they took a 6-5 lead after a Hiler kill. However, Portland continued to fight back and eventually earned a two-point edge at 12-10 after back-to-back kills caught the Wildcats on their heels. Portland took its largest lead at five points with the score 18-13 in favor of the designated home team. UK clawed back with four straight points to pull within one at 18-17 forcing Portland into a timeout. Out of the break Giesler came up with a block to tie the score at 18. From that point the teams traded points until back-to-back kills from Pavan and Giesler gave UK a 24-22 advantage. Giesler teamed up with junior Lauren Rapp to end the set in favor of the Blue and White at 25-22.
The Wildcats used a .333 hitting percentage and four team blocks to pull away from the Pilots in the opening stanza. Giesler paved the way both offensively and defensively as she totaled team set-highs of four kills and three blocks.
Despite a tremendous defensive effort on the opening play by Portland, Kentucky got the best of the rally and Mendoza picked up the first point of the second set with a magnificent touch shot in a gap among the discombobulated Pilot defenders. From that point on the Wildcats took complete control of the stanza. Mendoza totaled three kills in the opening stretch and UK took a commanding lead at 9-3. UK earned its largest lead in the early stage of the set at 11-3 after a Rumely crafty kill. From then on UK rolled to a 25-12 second set win.
Kentucky tallied 17 kills in the second stanza behind a blazing .600 hitting percentage. Seven different Wildcats earned a kill including three from Mendoza, Pavan and Hiler. Senior Brooke Bartek contributed two, while sophomore Christine Hartmann concluded the set with an ace.
Armes scored UK's first three points in the third set as the teams exchanged points to begin the frame. The back and forth battle continued throughout most of the early stages of the set, but Kentucky was able to take advantage of consecutive Pilot errors to claim a 13-11 edge. That was all the room the Wildcats needed as they pulled away from that point on for a final set victory with the score 25-17. In the final frame Kentucky hit .250 and was led by Armes' five kills.
Kentucky returns to action when they travel to Louisville on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Match time is set for 7 p.m. ET. Complete coverage of the Wildcats in Manhattan can be found at UKathletics.com.