No. 13 UK Rallies for Sweep of No. 21 Texas A&M
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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 13th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team used late-set heroics to rally past No. 21 Texas A&M in sets two and three en route to a 3-0 (25-20, 28-26, 30-28) win on Sunday evening in Memorial Coliseum. In the third set, UK faced set-point on five occasions before a Kaz Brown-Lauren O'Conner block capped the frame and the win for the Wildcats.
"Very (proud of our performance late in sets two and three)," UK coach Craig Skinner said. "There's a lot of pressure when you're down and trying to have to knot it up each time you have to side-out. It's about making plays. The play Ashley Dusek made at the end of the second set will kind of go unnoticed, but she had a heck of a play to keep the rally going. And offensively, Shelby and Lauren, big days. We had to terminate the ball at the end."
With the victory, UK improves to 14-2 overall and 4-0 in Southeastern Conference action. Texas A&M falls to 10-4 overall and 2-1 against league foes. Kentucky returns to the court on Friday, Oct. 10 at Tennessee. That matchup is set for a 7 p.m. ET first serve. UK will then play host to Auburn on Sunday, Oct. 12 at Noon ET. The match will air live on the SEC Network.
O'Conner paced the attack with a match-high 17 kills, and with her third kill of the night she became the 15th player in program history to amass 1,000 in a career. In SEC action, O'Conner leads UK with 71 kills in four matches for a 4.73 kill-per set average.
Junior Shelby Workman laced 15 kills on .351 hitting while adding four digs in the win. Sophomore Anni Thomasson had eight kills, 13 digs and a career-high six aces. It is the most aces in a three-set match since Sarah Rumely equaled that total in a win over Murray State in 2009.
Junior setter Morgan Bergren dished out 43 assists, while adding seven digs and five kills. She led the Wildcats to a .319 attacking percentage and 15 or more kills in all three sets. Senior Jackie Napper led the defensive charge with 16 digs, while contributing a season-high six assists.
"I've said it from the beginning: This is a very competitive group individually and they are not satisfied with the ball dropping within their range and they go for it until it drops," Skinner said in regards to UK's defensive effort. "Tonight was really--it helped us not to allow A&M to have momentum and we were able to seal it and a lot of it was the hustle plays."Brown logged three kills, but added a team-high four blocks, including three solo rejections. Junior Sara Schwarzwalder chipped in with six kills and a block. Sophomore Kelsey Wolf had six digs to aid the winning cause.
Thomasson's tough serve to begin the match prompted an overpass that O'Conner quickly put down for the first tally of the night. Bergren followed suit with a crafty play for a 2-0 Wildcat lead. Bergren then teamed up with Schwarzwalder for a Big Blue block and UK was off the races. The Wildcats led 5-0 to open the match and it promptly forced a Texas A&M timeout. O'Conner smashed her 1,000th career kill to give UK a 6-2 lead. The Aggies fired back and pulled to within two at 9-7. TAMU eventually tied the score at nine apiece, before Brown came up with a solo rejection to end the run by the visitors.
Texas A&M earned its first lead of the set at 12-11 and stretched it to two at 13-11. Thomasson's third ace of the set tied the score once again and from there the teams would exchange points. UK captured a three-point edge on a Schwarzwalder kill to make the score 20-17. It was all the more breathing room the Wildcats would need en route to a 25-20 opening set win following O'Conner's seventh kill of the set.
Kentucky charted 17 kills on a .308 attacking percentage with O'Conner responsible for seven on a .545 clip. Texas A&M logged 11 kills on .207 attacking. UK benefited from three service aces and 13 digs in the set.
Back-to-back kills from O'Conner gave the Blue and White a 2-0 lead to begin the second stanza. The Aggies quickly tied the score at two and a trading of points ensued. The Aggies eventually earned the largest lead of the set at 13-10. After trailing by as many as four, a blocking error by Texas A&M enabled Kentucky to tie the score at 18 apiece.
The Aggies benefited from consecutive UK errors to take a 23-21 edge late in the set. Following a Kentucky timeout, UK scored two-straight on kills from O'Conner to tie knot the score at 23 apiece. The teams would trade points from there, as UK had three-set points before a kill from Schwarzwalder lifted the Wildcats to a 28-26 second set win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
Kentucky charted 22 of its 28 points via kill. O'Conner and Workman both had seven each to lead the way. UK also benefited from a .340 attacking percentage and 24 digs in the frame, with Napper accounting for eight and Thomasson six. Texas A&M posted 18 kills on .300 hitting and had three blocks in the frame, but it was not enough to fend off the Cats.
Schwarzwalder posted a kill and Thomasson notched her fourth ace of the match for a 2-0 lead to begin the third frame. The Aggies tied the score at four and then earned their first lead at 5-4. Kentucky would score four of the next six points for an 8-6 advantage. Thomasson posted back-to-back aces to help stretch the lead to 13-9 in favor of Kentucky.
Texas A&M fought back to within two at 14-12, and UK opted to take a timeout to quell the Aggie run. After UK earned another comfortable lead, the Aggies eventually pulled to within one at 19-18. Out of the timeout, Workman went cross court for a kill to recapture a two-point lead for the Blue and White. The Aggies would not go away, however, and tied the score at 21 before a Bergren kill started a back-and-forth battle. Texas A&M earned a 23-22 lead following a lengthy rally, but the Aggies served t2he ball in the net to tie the score yet again.
Brown saved set point with a solo block, but the Aggies earned another change at 25-24. UK forced the Aggies into an erroneous attack to save another one. Workman saved the third-straight set point with a slicing kill into the middle of the Aggie defense. Another Workman kill gave UK a fighting chance as the home team tied the score at 27 apiece. An O'Conner kill saved a fifth-set point. UK claimed the match on a Brown-O'Conner rejection for a 30-28 victory.
Kentucky had 15 kills in the final set with Workman's seven the leader. UK attacked with a .304 clip, but had three blocks and 15 digs to rattle the Aggies. Texas A&M had 25 kills in the set and utilized a .340 attacking percentage, but committed eight hitting errors and a pair of service errors.Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the Kentucky volleyball team and all 22 varsity sports. For additional info on the volleyball team like Kentucky Volleyball on Facebook or follow the team on Twitter at @KentuckyVB.