Auburn Earns Comeback Win over No. 24 Kentucky

Sept. 24, 2010

Box Score

AUBURN, Ala. – A balanced offensive attack and a tremendous blocking effort from freshman Whitney Billings was not enough as Auburn earned a 3-2 (25-27, 25-16, 20-25, 25-17, 15-12) upset of No. 24 Kentucky, Friday night in Auburn, Ala. The win snapped a seven-match winning streak for the Wildcats in the series.

Billings earned a career-best eight blocks while also leading the team with 13 kills in the loss. The freshman had three solo rejections and five block assists. Kentucky (7-6, 1-2) had four players record 10 or more kills for the second consecutive match, but Auburn capitalized on 16 service errors and just a .162 attacking clip from the Blue and White to pull off the thrilling five-set upset.

Senior Lauren Rapp had 13 kills on .333 hitting. Senior Blaire Hiler totaled 11 kills with junior Ann Armes chipping in with 10. Freshman setter Elizabeth Koberstein dished out 48 assists for the second straight match while sophomore Stephanie Klefot had a match-high 17 digs. Junior Becky Pavan totaled five kills and added seven blocks for the Wildcats.

Auburn began the scoring in the decisive fifth set, but then gave the point right back to UK with a service error. Kentucky earned its first lead of the set with a block from Billings to make the score 3-2. An attacking error by the Tigers enabled Kentucky to take a 4-2 edge with Auburn deciding to use an early timeout with the visitors ahead.

Out of the break Rapp extended the advantage to 5-2 with her 11th kill of the match. Auburn fired back with four straight points to earn a 6-5 lead and forcing Kentucky into a timeout. Kentucky roared back to score the next three points and take an 8-7 lead into the switching of sides. Auburn would answer with four points to take an 11-8 edge. A kill from Billings stopped the run, but the teams would exchange points back-and-forth with UK not able to pull closer than two points as Auburn closed out the match with a 15-12 fifth set win.

Auburn opened the match with the first point of the meeting, but UK would rally back to take the next two points off of a pair of Pavan blocks. The Wildcats took a three-point edge at 7-4 off of a kill from Rapp. Auburn would fight back and tie the score at eight apiece. From there the teams would exchange points until the home team captured three straight points to earn a 14-11 lead.

UK would score three straight points of its own behind a pair of Hiler hammers to bring the score closer at 15-14. A trio of kills from Rapp gave the Wildcats the lead once again at 17-16. An attacking error by the Blue and White allowed Auburn to pull to within 19-18, but Koberstein came up with a timely tap for her first kill of the match to give Kentucky a 20-18 advantage. The home team would benefit from a UK miscue to tie the score at 23 apiece late in the stanza.

Auburn would go up set point, and then give the point back to Kentucky with a service error. A Hiler-Rapp rejection lifted UK to 25-24, but an attacking error by the Wildcats tied the score at 25. Auburn was then caught out of rotation to allow the Wildcats to earn set point once again. Kentucky captured the set with a timely ace from the hand of Armes for a 27-25 win.

UK charted 15 kills in the frame led by six from Rapp. Koberstein found six different UK players for a kill in the set. Kentucky’s defense limited Auburn to a .027 hitting clip and just nine kills in the frame.

Auburn controlled most of the early portion of the second set, with UK finally tying the score at six apiece behind a block from Billings. With the match tied at 10, the home team would go on to score four of the next five points to take a 14-11 edge. Kentucky pulled to within 15-14 thanks to another turn-back from Rapp and Billings. The home team would answer with a 3-0 run to earn a four-point advantage at 18-14 forcing UK into a timeout. The Tigers would go on to finish the set on a 7-1 run and even the match at one set apiece after a 25-16 second set victory.

Auburn allowed just eight kills from the Wildcats on .000 hitting. The Tigers charted just 10 kills on .208 hitting, but capitalized on eight hitting errors and four service errors committed by the Blue and White.

Resembling the first two sets Auburn struck for the first point of the set. The home team would extend its advantage to 7-3. UK would respond with a 4-0 run highlighted by a pair of Armes kills and a combined block with Pavan to bring the score to 8-7 in favor of the Tigers. An ace from Billings knotted the score at 10. The fourth kill of the set by Armes and a Koberstein service ace gave the Wildcats its first lead of the stanza at 12-11. Three straight kills from the hand of Billings lifted UK to a 17-14 edge midway through the set. The freshman then combined with Pavan for another block to give the Wildcats a four-point advantage at 18-14 and forcing Auburn into a timeout.

Out of the break the Blue and White won the rally with a cross-court kill from Armes. The Tigers pulled to within 19-16, before the home team committed a ball-handling error to give UK a 20-16 lead. UK earned set-point with the second ace of the set from Koberstein. Auburn, however, fought back and saved set point four times before Armes ended the set with a kill to the back row for a 25-20 set three win.

Armes had seven kills in the stanza to pace the Wildcats who laid down 15 kills in the frame. The Wildcats used a .344 attacking clip in the process.

Hiler began the scoring in the fourth frame with a powerful slam along the line for a 1-0 edge for the visitors. The teams exchanged points until Auburn scored three straight points to take an 8-5 lead. Consecutive kills from Armes tied the score once again with both teams possessing 10 points. Auburn would then score the next three points to earn a lead once again at 13-10. Back-to-back kills lifted the home team to its largest lead of the set at 15-11 forcing Kentucky into a timeout. It would be all the room the home team would need as Auburn evened the match at two sets apiece with a 25-17 fourth set victory forcing a decisive fifth set.

Kentucky will next be in action on the road at Georgia, Sunday Sept. 16. Match time is set for 1:30 p.m. ET.

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