No. 16 UK Claims SEC Road Victory Over LSU
Sept. 20, 2009
BATON ROUGE, La. – Behind a season-high 14.5 blocks the 16th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team cruised to a 3-0 (25-22, 25-15, 25-21) sweep of LSU in the Southeastern Conference opener for the Blue and White on Sunday afternoon. The match between the two schools marked the first-ever live telecast of a regular-season SEC match on the ESPN family of networks as ESPNU carried the match.
Kentucky (11-1, 1-0) got a career-day from sophomore middle blocker Gretchen Giesler who had a career-best 10 kills and six blocks for the Blue and White in their victory. Sophomore Becky Pavan also contributed nine kills and six blocks of her own.
“It is always great to get a win on the road,” said Kentucky coach Craig Skinner. “I thought we really came out and put pressure on LSU with our blocking which we haven't had in a few matches. I thought both Gretchen (Giesler) and Becky (Pavan) both played tremendously well in the middle for us and that proved to be the difference in the match.”
Junior Sarah Mendoza matched Giesler with a team-high 10 kills in the victory. Senior Sarah Rumely tallied 31 assists while adding six blocks and a pair of kills for an all-around day. Junior Lauren Rapp notched five kills and three blocks to aid the Wildcat cause. In the back-row senior BriAnne Sauer totaled a match-high 16 digs—which gives her over 1,200 for her career. Sauer is just the second Wildcat in school history to amass more than 1,200 scoops in a career. Freshman Stephanie Klefot chipped in with nine digs.
LSU has won 33 of its last 35 matches at the Maravich Center against league teams other than Florida. Kentucky is the winner of both of those matches as the Blue and White have posted sweeps in Baton Rouge in consecutive seasons.
The Wildcats opened the match by capturing the first point when Mendoza shut down an LSU attack with a solo block. UK took control of the set quickly, benefitting from four kills in the early going to take a 6-2 lead. LSU pulled to within 8-7, but UK would go on to score seven of the next 10 points to grab a 15-10 edge into the first television timeout. On Kentucky's 15th point the defense was spectacular keeping a play alive after what looked like an apparent kill from the Tiger offense to go on and force an LSU hitting error.
Out of the break Kentucky continued to maintain a comfortable edge. The Tigers captured the first two points, but UK responded by taking the next two. A tag-team effort by Rumely and Giesler provided a thundering block to keep the momentum in Kentucky's favor with the score at 17-13. A Pavan kill pushing the score to 18-14 prompted LSU to use its first timeout of the first stanza. LSU used the timeout to pull within 20-18 of the Wildcats after the home team claimed three of the next five points.
Skinner and the Wildcats opted to use a timeout of their own and Pavan responded with a kill. After LSU answered, Mendoza drilled a kill that hit an LSU defender and sailed into the stands giving UK a 22-19 edge. LSU chose to take its second timeout of the frame trailing by three. LSU committed a blocking error allowing UK to go ahead by four, but the home team was able to rattle off three consecutive points to inch closer at 23-21. LSU pulled to within one after an attack error by the Wildcats. However, UK responded with consecutive points to end the threat and take a 25-22 set one victory. Giesler threw down a powerful kill and then combined with Rumely for the set-clinching point on an authoritative block.
Kentucky was led by Mendoza (6) and Pavan (5) in the kill column in the first set. UK out-hit LSU by a margin of .188 to .140. The Wildcats, however, did chart five blocks in the opening frame to pull away from the home team. With five digs in the first stanza Sauer was able to chart her 1,200th career dig.
The second set opened with a Pavan kill and the Wildcats quickly emerged with a 7-1 advantage forcing LSU to use an early timeout. Kentucky tallied three blocks in the run and Giesler tallied a pair of kills in back-to-back possessions to allow Kentucky to grab the early advantage. Kentucky led by as many as nine points at 12-3 after Giesler struck for another kill. Kentucky maintained its comfortable lead throughout the entire stanza and was never once threatened rolling to a 25-15 set two victory.
Giesler erupted for six kills and three blocks in the second frame leading Kentucky which totaled 12 kills and five blocks as a unit. UK benefited from nine LSU attacking errors. Kentucky's defense limited LSU to just .059 hitting while UK's back row notched 13 digs.
For the first time in the match the home team earned the first point of the set, but UK answered immediately with another block. UK took a three-point edge at 6-3 after a Rapp kill, but LSU was able to stay close in the early going. The home team tied the score with a block at eight apiece. A Wildcat miscue allowed the Tigers to take a point advantage, but UK responded immediately with consecutive kills from Pavan. Kentucky rattled off two more points behind an LSU attacking error and an ace from Klefot to take a 12-9 edge and forcing LSU into a timeout.
Out of the break UK took a four-point lead when Pavan and Mendoza teamed up for a block. The Tigers pulled to within two at 16-14, but UK would go on to take the next two points behind a kill from junior Blaire Hiler and a block from Rumely and Pavan to take an 18-14 advantage forcing LSU to use its final timeout of the set. LSU would never get closer than within three points down the stretch as the Blue and White captured the match on a service error by the home team to claim a 25-21 set three victory.
Kentucky tallied four more blocks in the deciding set to seal the deal for the visitors.
Kentucky returns to action on Friday, Sept. 25 when they open a two-match SEC home stand. UK first takes on Ole Miss Friday night at Memorial Coliseum at 7 p.m. On Sunday, Sept. 27 UK hosts Arkansas in a locally televised match at 1:30 p.m. on CWKYT in Lexington.