No. 3 Florida Needs Comeback Effort Against No. 22 UK

Sept. 17, 2010

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - In a match that rivaled the last five meetings between the squads with extra sets needed to determine a winner, No. 3 Florida staged a comeback effort to overcome a feisty No. 22 Kentucky squad with a 3-1 (18-25, 25-19, 25-13, 25-20) win Friday in front of 2,087 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

It was the conference opener for both squads and the third-ranked Gators (7-1, 1-0) posted three straight set wins after the Wildcats (6-5, 0-1) emerged with a 25-18 opening set victory to set the stage for another back-and-forth battle between the rivals.

Junior Ann Armes had a career night for the Blue and White with a career-best 16 kills and a team-high nine digs, just missing out on her first career double-double. Senior Lauren Rapp continued to shine with eight kills and a match-high six blocks to pace the Wildcats.

"Three or four people really stepped up this evening for us," UK coach Craig Skinner said. "They really made a stand for themselves, but we need to figure out a way to click on all cylinders."

Kentucky came out of the gate firing away and posted a match-high .303 hitting percentage and 13 kill in the opening frame. Freshman Whitney Billings led the way with five kills, with Armes chipping in with four. Sophomore Christine Hartmann dished out 11 assists and she also posted six digs in the opening frame.

Billings opened the match by hammering down a powerful slam to bring all 2,087 fans to their feet. The squads swapped points back and forth until UK broke free for a 12-11 edge after an attack error from the Gators. The visitors continued to hang around with the score 19-17, but UK finished the set on a 6-1 run for the 25-18 win. In the final six points, UK's defense forced the Gators into three attacking errors with Armes and Billings each getting a kill. Hartmann concluded the set by placing a ball on the floor on an over-pass ball to give the Blue and White the early advantage.

"I really liked the way we came out and played in set one," Skinner said. "I thought we got a little too comfortable after that, and we can't allow ourselves to do that against great teams like Florida. We have to continue to make them earn their points and not allow them to go on runs like they were able to do tonight."

Florida answered with a 25-19 set two victory to even the match at one set apiece going into the locker room. The Gators limited the Wildcat offense to a mere .087 attacking clip and just nine kills.

Armes opened the set with a kill to give the Blue and White an early lead. Florida raced back and took the edge at 4-3 with a kill. It would be a lead the Gators would never relinquish. UK pulled to within four at 19-15 on a service error from the visitors, but that would be all the closer the home squad would get. Florida finished the set on a 6-4 run.

The Gators posted a 25-13 set three win to take a 2-1 advantage. Florida's defense was stifling as Kentucky managed a negative .065 hitting clip with only Rapp and Armes in positive figures. Armes had four kills in the stanza.

Florida jumped out to an early lead in the four set, taking an 8-2 edge. Kentucky did not quit however, and tied the score at 13-13 after an ace from senior Blaire Hiler. Florida would respond with a 4-0 run to pull away and not allow the home team to get any closer as Florida finished the set out and claimed a 25-20 win.

Kentucky returns to action when it hosts South Carolina on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. ET. The match will be televised live on CWKYT and Fox Sports South. Dick Gabriel will have the call and former UK letterwinner Katie Eiserman will provide the color commentary.

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