No. 14 UK Prevails in the Bayou to Open SEC Play
Box Score (PDF)
BATON ROUGE, La. - The 14th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team, ignited by a scrappy defensive effort and 17 kills from senior Lauren O'Conner, earned a 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-20, 25-17) win at LSU to begin Southeastern Conference action on Wednesday night.
"I'm just really proud of our defensive effort as the match went on," UK coach Craig Skinner said. "We talked about chipping away for two hours and being able to sustain it to try and wear LSU down. We struggled a little bit offensively to get a rhythm, but our defense was the key to the match and I'm proud of all of the people that came in and made a contribution to the win."
With the win, Kentucky improves to 11-2 overall on the season and 1-0 in league action. LSU falls to 5-5 and 0-1 against conference foes. Kentucky resumes league play with a matchup at South Carolina on Sunday, Sept. 28 at 1:30 p.m. ET. The match will be available to see on SEC Network+ with Derek Scott and Kim Hudson-Williams. Mandy Robbe will have the call on UKathletics.com.
The Wildcats earned 12 blocks in the match and nearly five players logged double-figures in the digs' column to pave the way defensively. Senior Jackie Napper had 16 digs, while sophomore Kelsey Wolf contributed 10. Juniors Morgan Bergren and Shelby Workman both picked up nine scoops, while sophomore Anni Thomasson contributed eight. Thomasson, junior Sara Schwarzwalder and freshman Emily Franklin all had four blocks.
O'Conner led the way offensively with 17 kills. Thomasson had 13 and Workman contributed eight. Bergren dished out 44 assists as UK notched 57 kills in the victory.
After LSU opened the scoring in the first frame, but Workman followed with a cross-court shot. Workman's second kill of the stanza gave UK its first lead at 3-2. LSU scored the next five points, however to grab a 7-3 edge. Kills by O'Conner and Thomasson, a block from Franklin and Bergren and an ace from Thomasson knotted the score at eight apiece in an early back-and-forth battle. A four-point Tigers spurt made the score 13-9 in favor of the home team.
A 5-0 run that was highlighted by a pair of blocks knotted the score at 15 apiece and LSU opted for a timeout. The Tigers regrouped and posted a 3-0 run to pull ahead 19-16 late in the opening set. Kentucky answered with a 3-0 spurt of its own which included a pair of Bergren kills to tie the score at 19 all. From there the teams exchanged points until, consecutive kills from O'Conner and Workman followed by an erroneous LSU attack gave the Cats set point at 24-21. Thomasson finished the set for the Wildcats to lift UK to a 25-22 set victory.
Kentucky had 16 kills in the set with Thomasson notching four and three other players posting three apiece. UK utilized a .237 hitting percentage, but LSU posted just 13 kills on a .206 clip.
The Tigers opened to a 3-0 lead in the third stanza, but UK quickly fired back with five-straight points of its own. Kentucky kept the pressure on, stretching the lead to 10-7 following an O'Conner-Franklin-Bergren triple block. Following the momentum-extending block, Kentucky scored the next two points to earn its largest lead of the set at 12-7. The lead extended to 16-8 following a kill and a solo block from O'Conner.
LSU pulled to within four at 23-19, but O'Conner earned kills on two of the final three points scored and the Wildcats claimed a 25-20 third set win to go ahead 2-1 in the match.
Kentucky managed 13 kills in the set, while limiting LSU to 12 on a .054 hitting percentage.
The home team opened the fourth frame by scoring the first four points. Three-consecutive attacking errors enabled the Cats to come back and take the lead at 6-5. UK's run extended with a Dusek ace and a Workman kill, after a lengthy rally, for an 8-5 visitors' advantage. LSU eventually fought back to tie the score at 10 apiece.
Kentucky fended off the Tigers' surge and earned a 14-11 lead after a pair of O'Conner kills. It was all the more breathing room the Blue and White needed en route to a 25-17 fourth set win to clinch the victory.
LSU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second set before O'Conner laced a shot for UK's first tally. A misfire from the Tigers tied the score at two apiece. After trading points, LSU was able to shake loose for three-straight for an 11-8 advantage. A Bergren-Schwarzwalder block tied the score at 16 all, the first tie score since 7-7.
LSU quickly recaptured a multi-point lead at 20-17. A pair of Franklin kills pulled UK back to within one at 21-20, forcing the Tigers into a timeout. An erroneous attack tied the score at 21, but the home team the next two points for a 23-21 lead. A Thomasson solo rejection once again tied the score, this time, at 23. However, LSU would score the set's final two points for a 25-23 win to even the match at one set apiece.
Kentucky posted 13 kills on .273 hitting in the frame, while LSU logged 17 on a .289 percentage. O'Conner had five kills for the Wildcats to lead the way.
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