No. 15 Wildcats Down South Carolina in Five Sets

Oct. 4, 2009

Box Score

COLUMBIA, S.C.  – The 15th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats needed five sets to overcome a feisty South Carolina team (25-20, 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 15-13) in Columbia on Sunday. Three Wildcats posted 10 or more kills in the win and sophomore Becky Pavan totaled a career-high 16 kills in the victory.

Kentucky (15-1, 5-0) needed five sets to win in two consecutive matches, but capped the weekend by remaining perfect in Southeastern Conference action. It was once again a total team effort in the victory. UK hit .222 for the match and totaled 65 kills on the night. Kentucky's 14 blocks were also a big factor in the Wildcats' victory.

“South Carolina played great today especially after being down by two sets,” said Kentucky coach Craig Skinner. “I think we got a little too comfortable, but somehow we found away to find enough intensity and pull off the win in set five. South Carolina is a good team and they will continue to have a great season.”

Senior setter Sarah Rumely tallied 51 assists on the day to move into sole possession of second place all-time in UK's career assist record list. The senior also added five kills and 11 digs to post her 35 th career double-double effort. Junior Sarah Mendoza also earned a double-double with 21 kills and 12 digs. It is the second straight match the junior has eclipsed the 20 kill mark.

Junior Lauren Rapp was the third Wildcat in double-figures as she hammered down 10 kills on the day. Sophomore Ann Armes added eight kills and sophomore Gretchen Giesler chipped in with four. Senior BriAnne Sauer led the back-row effort with 18 digs and freshman Stephanie Klefot added 10. Junior Laura Stokowski posted five digs to aid the Wildcat cause. At the net defensively, Pavan struck for seven blocks with Giesler adding six.

In the deciding fifth set South Carolina managed to take the opening point for the fifth time in the match. However, UK got a kill from Pavan to immediately tie the score. After a kill from the home team, UK earned the next three points behind a kill from Mendoza and an ace from Rapp. South Carolina committed a hitting error to give UK a 4-2 lead and South Carolina used its first timeout.

Out of the break South Carolina took the next two points with a kill and a hitting error by Kentucky. Mendoza responded with a kill and then the home team committed a hitting error of its own to give UK another two point edge at 6-4. From that point the teams exchanged points back and forth until South Carolina tied things at seven apiece. UK quickly answered to take the 8-7 lead at the change of sides when Pavan hammered home her career-high 15 th kill of the day. Rumely posted her second ace of the day to give the Wildcats a 9-7 edge and South Carolina burned its final timeout.

UK got a huge block from the tandem of Rapp and Pavan to increase its lead to 10-7 before South Carolina ended the run with back to back points to inch closer at 10-9. Pavan once again came up with a kill and followed suit by teaming up with Mendoza for another UK block making the score 12-9 in favor of the visitors. Pavan continued to be a force as on the next possession the middle blocker earned an assist when she found Rapp for a kill giving UK a four-point edge and two points shy of putting it away.

Mendoza scorched the Gamecocks for another kill putting UK in position for set point. The home team saved set point twice to make the score 14-11 and Skinner opted to take a timeout to calm his team down. What looked like a kill for the Wildcats fell just wide and then UK suffered a ball handling error allowing the Gamecocks to pull to within 14-13. Mendoza ended the match with her 21 st kill of the night ending the threat and keeping UK's record in conference play perfect.

In the fifth set, UK totaled just a .147 hitting clip and nine kills but it was enough to overcome the Gamecocks. South Carolina hit .357 in the set but only had seven kills.

South Carolina was able to take the first point of the match, but Kentucky rattled off two straight points to take the early lead. Kentucky took the lead at 4-3 after an early kill from Rumely and would continue to maintain control throughout the early portion of the frame. After a kill from Rapp and a hitting error by the home team to make the score 11-6, South Carolina chose to use its first timeout of the set.

The Gamecocks earned a point on the first possession out of the break to inch closer at 11-7, but it was all Kentucky from there as the Blue and White took seven out of the next 10 points to grab a comfortable 18-10 advantage before South Carolina took its next timeout. The Blue and White took a commanding lead at 20-11 after the fifth kill of the set by Pavan. However, the Gamecocks were able to rattle off four straight points to pull within 20-15 and Kentucky opted to use its first timeout of the stanza.

Out of the break South Carolina claimed the next two points behind a UK miscue and a block to come within three points at 20-17 forcing Kentucky to use its final timeout. Mendoza slammed down a powerful kill and Klefot followed with an ace to give Kentucky a 22-17 advantage. From that point on, Kentucky was never again threatened as they finished off the set behind a kill from Rumely and a 25-20 set one win.

Kentucky hit .297 with 14 kills in the opening stanza. Pavan led the way with five kills and three other players totaled three hammers. Kentucky came up with two blocks while forcing South Carolina into seven hitting errors and a .216 clip.

Once again South Carolina began the set by taking the first point, but Kentucky answered yet again with a kill from Pavan to quickly even the score. A Giesler-Mendoza block tied the score at two apiece and from there UK would take the next four points behind three tremendous blocks. Kentucky went up 10-5 after a kill from Mendoza and South Carolina once again was forced to burn an early timeout. In the early going Kentucky's line of defenders at the net tallied three blocks and forced South Carolina into four other hitting errors.

After a timeout South Carolina was able to rattle off three straight points and then continued to inch closer to the Wildcats eventually tying the score at 14 apiece. The teams continued to trade points back and forth until back-to-back UK miscues allowed South Carolina to take its second lead of the set at 17-16. UK opted for a timeout after South Carolina's run and Rumely answered with a crafty kill and then an ace. Pavan gave UK a two-point lead with a solo block making the score 19-17 and South Carolina burned its final timeout of the stanza.

Out of the break the teams traded points back and forth until UK posted consecutive kills from Rapp and Mendoza to go up 24-20. South Carolina saved one set point before Mendoza ended it for Kentucky with a slam to the back row giving the Blue and White a 25-21 set two victory.

Mendoza and Pavan each had four kills in the second set, but the Wildcats only managed to hit with a .171 clip. UK's defense came up with three blocks and 18 digs while limiting South Carolina to a mere .114 average. South Carolina committed nine hitting errors in the second frame.

The third set opened in similar fashion with South Carolina grabbing the opening point before Kentucky answered with a kill of its own from the hand of Rapp. South Carolina earned a lead by as many as two at 8-6, but Kentucky responded with three consecutive kills to go up 9-8. The home team opted for another early timeout with Kentucky's offense rolling. The Gamecocks readjusted and came back by taking the next three points and reclaiming a two-point edge at 11-9 forcing UK to use its first timeout.

South Carolina once again earned a two-point edge at 14-12, but a block from the tandem of Rumely and Giesler followed by an ace by Mendoza tied the score at 14 apiece. Back-to-back kills from Armes gave the Blue and White a 16-15 lead and South Carolina chose to burn its last timeout of the set.

Despite a tremendous effort from junior Laura Stokowski to save a rally by diving into UK's bench, South Carolina managed to finish the play when the ball returned to their side of the net. South Carolina reclaimed the lead on the next possession. From that point on the teams continued to trade points back and forth with neither team taking more than a one-point edge. Kentucky took its final timeout of the stanza trailing 20-19.

Mendoza's kill knotted the score once again out of the break. The teams exchanged the next four points, before South Carolina earned a two-point advantage at 23-21 after an erroneous hit by Kentucky. The home squad earned set point with a block, but UK was able to save set point twice behind a kill from Klefot and Armes. South Carolina finished the set with a kill along the left line to claim a 25-23 set three win and force a fourth set.

UK hit .353 in the stanza and tossed down 17 kills led by five from Mendoza. South Carolina managed 16 kills on .333 hitting to stay neck and neck with the Wildcats. The Gamecocks benefited from five UK hitting errors and a pair of service errors.

For the fourth time in the match South Carolina began the set by taking the first point of the set. Rapp responded with a kill of her own and the teams continued to trade points back and forth. UK took a two-point lead at 5-3 after a combined block from Giesler and Rumely. UK stretched its lead to 9-5 after three straight points began with a kill from Armes, a South Carolina hitting error and was finished off by a block off of the arms of Pavan and Rumely. The Gamecocks once again burned an early timeout with Kentucky's offense clicking on all cylinders.

Kentucky continued to roll taking a lead by as much as seven points at 14-7, forcing South Carolina to use its final timeout. In the stretch UK tossed down four kills in the run. Mendoza gave UK its largest lead at 15-7 with another kill, but South Carolina took five of the next six points to move closer at 16-12 and Kentucky used its first timeout of the set. The Gamecocks continued their run by take the next two points after the timeout to inch even closer at 16-14 and Kentucky used its final timeout to attempt to reclaim control of the set.

South Carolina did not back down and rattled off four more points to take an 18-16 lead. Mendoza finally ended the 8-0 run with a kill into the back corner. South Carolina pushed its lead to 20-17 with two straight points, before Mendoza capped a magnificent rally by both squads with a kill to make the score 20-18. However, UK just could muster enough offense to get back into things and South Carolina capped the set with a 25-19 win evening the match and sending it into a deciding fifth stanza.

The Gamecocks totaled 13 kills on .158 hitting while limiting the Blue and White to 12 kills on just .105 hitting. Kentucky committed eight hitting errors and two service errors in the set.

Kentucky will return home next weekend for two SEC matches. Friday night Kentucky takes on Auburn at 7 p.m. ET at Memorial Coliseum. Sunday, UK welcomes Georgia for a 1:30 p.m. ET showdown which will air live on CWKYT (Lexington Channel 5).

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