Hiler Ignites Comeback Five-Set Win Over Georgia

Sept. 26, 2010

Box Score

ATHENS, Ga. – Senior Blaire Hiler’s career day ignited a comeback effort by the 24th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team to a dramatic 3-2 (21-25, 20-25, 28-26, 25-19, 15-13) win at Georgia, on Sunday in Athens, Ga. The senior totaled a career-best in kills (18) and blocks (seven) to help the Blue and White rally from a 2-0 deficit to win the final three sets and claim the match.

Kentucky improves to 8-6 overall and 2-2 in Southeastern Conference action. Georgia falls to 9-6 and 1-3 in SEC action.

“This is one of my all-time favorite wins,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “Our team could have packed it in, but they came back and competed. They played fearlessly and that is something we are going to have to continue to do.”

Hiler led the total team effort in both kills and blocks. Senior Lauren Rapp posted 14 kills on a blistering .542 hitting clip and chipped in with five blocks. Junior Ann Armes totaled 10 kills and had nine digs, while freshman Whitney Billings was the fourth UK player to reach double-figures in kills with 10 while adding four digs.

Sophomore setter Christine Hartmann came off the bench to lead the UK rally from the floor general slot and post 30 assists and leading UK to an above .300 hitting clip.

“Christine came in and really gave us life and led us to a victory,” Skinner said.

Kentucky started the fifth set by earning the first two points with consecutive blocks led by Becky Pavan. The junior teamed up with Hiler for one rejection and then Armes for the other. Georgia fired back with three consecutive kills to take the lead at 3-2, but UK benefited from a home team service error to tie the score at three. Georgia responded with another 3-0 run off of three straight kills to earn a 6-3 advantage and force UK into an early timeout.

Out of the break Hiler notched her career-best 17th kill of the match. The kill ignited a four-point UK swing to take an 8-6 lead into the switching of sides. Hartmann made a spectacular save off of the net during a long rally and then teamed up with Rapp for a UK block for the fourth point of the rally. Georgia took the opportunity to use a timeout during the switch.

After the timeout, Kentucky kept the pressure on as Rapp was able to put down an over-pass ball for a 9-6 UK lead. After Georgia ended the six-point UK swing with a kill, Rapp fired right back with another hammer for a 10-7 Kentucky advantage. After consecutive points by the home squad to make the score 10-9, Rapp came up with another huge kill to keep UK out in front by a two-point margin. Hartmann then used a quick tap to find a spot in the back corner to make the score 12-9 in favor of the Wildcats and forcing Georgia to call its final timeout.

Kentucky earned match-point with the score 14-10 in favor of UK after a Georgia service error. The Bulldogs, however, fought back to save match-point three times to come to within one at 14-13. UK opted to use its final timeout to regroup. The timeout worked as Billings quickly came out firing with a kill to the back-corner to help complete the comeback effort with a 15-13 final set win.

UK posted nine kills in the set on .364 hitting. Georgia also had nine kills in the set, but committed four hitting errors and hit just .192 for the stanza.

Pavan added seven kills and four blocks in the win. Stephanie Klefot posted a match-high 21 digs to lead the defensive effort, while freshman Jessi Greenberg scored a career-best nine scoops to aid the UK cause.

Rapp opened the scoring with a kill from the middle to give UK an early 1-0 lead. Kentucky jumped out to a four-point edge at 10-6 after a kill from Armes. Georgia fought back and pulled to with 14-13 benefiting from a service error from the Wildcats. UK, though, would respond by taking three of the next four points to earn a 17-14 edge and force the home team into a timeout.

Georgia came out of the break to score the next two points, but Rapp ended an extended rally with a kill to end the scoring by the Bulldogs with an 18-16 lead. The Bulldogs would score the next two points, however, tying the score for the first time in the opening frame at 18 apiece. Kentucky opted for a timeout to attempt to quell the scoring. The Bulldogs did not slow down as the home team came out of the break to score the next two points and take its first lead of the set by a 20-18 margin and Kentucky opted to use its final timeout. UK could never pull to within more than one point the rest of the way and Georgia closed out the set with a 25-21 opening set victory.

Both squads came out with a hot hand as Georgia totaled 17 kills on .378 hitting and UK charting 13 kills on .333 hitting. Armes and Rapp each had three kills in the opening stanza.

Resembling the opening set, Kentucky took the first point of the set with a kill from Armes. Georgia would go on to score the next two points to take the lead. The Wildcats continued to fight back and eventually knotted the score at seven apiece. The Blue and White earned its first lead of the stanza with a block from Rapp and Hiler to make the score 8-7 in favor of the visitors. After a 9-9 score, the Wildcats scored the next three points all thanks to Rapp. The senior laid down her fifth kill of the match and then had consecutive blocks to give UK a 12-9 edge.

After a timeout for the home team the Bulldogs came out and took the next two points to pull to within one, but UK fired back with a 4-0 run highlighted by a Pavan kill to take a 16-11 edge. Kentucky earned an 18-13 lead behind the duo of Pavan and Armes rejecting another Bulldog attempt and Georgia took the opportunity to use its final timeout. Georgia fired back with seven straight points to take a 20-18 edge before UK finally ended the scoring with a Pavan-Billings block. That would be all the closer the Blue and White would get as Georgia closed out the set on a 5-2 run and would take a 2-0 lead into the break after a 25-20 second set win.

Georgia hit .314 with another 17 kills in the stanza, while Kentucky totaled 11 kills on just .200 hitting.

Georgia earned the lead to begin the third set with a kill to start the frame. The Bulldogs maintained a steady edge over the Wildcats with UK eventually tying the score at nine apiece. However, the home team would quickly regain the edge. After a pair of UGA points, Kentucky took a timeout trailing 18-15. Back-to-back kills from Hiler and Hartmann enabled the Wildcats to pull back to within one at 21-20.

A kill from Rapp tied the score at 22 apiece, and the teams would exchange points until Georgia had match-point at 24-23. Billings came up with a match-saving kill to tie the score at 24. UK would then earn set-point with a kill from Armes to go up 25-24, but Georgia would score a kill of its own to tie the score once again. Georgia would earn match-point at 26-25, but UK would force the home team into an erroneous attack. Hiler then came up with back-to-back big plays with a solo rejection and then a kill on an over-pass to lift the Wildcats to a 28-26 third set win to force the match into extra frames.

Kentucky posted 12 kills on .310 hitting while Georgia had 19 hammers on .262 hitting. UK benefited from eight attacking errors by the Bulldogs to stay in the match.

The Wildcats scored the first two points of the fourth set off of kills from Pavan and Rapp to take the early edge. Georgia tied the score at four, but UK responded with three straight points to reclaim a comfortable advantage at 7-4. With UK ahead 11-8 after another Georgia service error the Bulldogs opted to use its first timeout of the set.

Georgia fought back to pull to within one at 14-13, but Hiler responded with another kill to lift UK back up by two. The Bulldogs continued to fight pulling to within one again at 18-17, before the Wildcats notched consecutive kills from Armes and Hiler to go up 20-17 and forcing Georgia into its final timeout. Kentucky was able to close out the match and force a deciding fifth frame with a 25-19 fourth set win. Hiler notched three of UK’s final four points with kills.

Kentucky used a match-high .350 attacking percentage and 19 kills to rally for the win. UK’s defense was also spectacular limiting Georgia to a mere 10 kills on just a .179 attacking clip. Hiler led the way with six kills in the set.

Kentucky is back in action on Wednesday, Sept. 29 for a showdown with No. 20 Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. The match is set for 7 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ESPNU.

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