No. 8 Wildcats Cruise to 3-0 Sweep at Mississippi State
Oct. 16, 2009
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Behind a complete effort in all phases of the game the eighth-ranked Kentucky volleyball team cruised to a 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-16) win at Mississippi State on Friday.
The Wildcats (18-1, 8-0) dominated the match both offensively with 54 kills and defensively with 62 digs in the match. Three UK players recorded double-figure efforts in both the kills and digs column. Junior Sarah Mendoza registered her second consecutive double-double with 14 kills and 14 digs to lead the way.
"I was very excited about our floor defense tonight," Kentucky coach Craig Skinner said. "Offensively a lot of people got involved and hit for a high percentage. Those two things are very important as we continue to go through the conference season."
Kentucky struck for a .404 hitting percentage - its third match in its last four with an above .400 hitting percentage. Three UK players hit over .400 for the match with junior Blaire Hiler leading the way with 10 kills on a career-tying .600 clip. Sophomore Becky Pavan tallied 11 kills on a .588 percentage with Gretchen Giesler contributing eight kills on a .462 percentage. Junior Lauren Rapp added seven kills with senior setter Sarah Rumely tallying four. Rumely also dished out 40 assists on the night.
In the back-row freshman Stephanie Klefot led the way with 17 digs. Senior BriAnne Sauer matched Mendoza's total of 14. At the net UK recorded a season-best five solo with a total of seven team blocks. Giesler led the way with three rejections.
Kentucky opened the match with a quick start by taking the first three points of the match. After forcing the home team into an error, Giesler came up with a dominating solo block and Mendoza finished the run off with a kill. Mississippi State crept back into things tying the score at four apiece benefiting from a pair of UK miscues.
The Wildcats would take the next point on another early kill from Mendoza, but the Blue and White never got more than a three-point edge until three consecutive kills stretched its lead to 14-10. Mendoza hammered down a pair of kills and Rumely added another in the run, but it was the masterful defensive play of the entire squad that enabled the run which forced Mississippi State into a timeout in an attempt to regroup. Of UK's first 14 points, 11 came in the form of a kill.
UK continued to control the pace of the set never allowing the home team to pull within more than two points at 15-13. A transitional kill from Pavan gave the Wildcats a 20-15 advantage and the Bulldogs opted to use their final timeout. Out of the break Kentucky would go on to take five of the next seven points to claim the first set 25-17. UK charted a sizzling .409 hitting percentage and 20 kills in the frame. Mendoza accounted for eight on a .500 hitting clip to open the match. Rapp chipped in with four and Rumely dished out 17 assists in the stanza.
Pavan ignited another hot start for the Blue and White in the second set by slamming down consecutive kills to begin the stanza. Mississippi State hung with the Wildcats for much of the early portions of the frame, even taking a one-point advantage twice during the frame. However, UK shook loose for a three-point edge at 16-13 behind a kill from Hiler which forced the home team into a timeout.
UK would go on to take four of the next five points to stretch its lead to 20-14 behind a solo rejection from Rapp. The Wildcats closed out the set with two great defensive plays - first a dual-block off of the hands of Rapp and Giesler. A tremendous dig from Sauer and save by Rumely allowed Mendoza to fire away and find a spot in the back corner to give the Blue and White another 25-17 set victory.
Kentucky used a .350 attacking percentage in the second stanza while limiting Mississippi State to a mere .070 clip. Pavan led the way with five kills on a blistering .833 hitting percentage. UK registered 17 kills in the set to continue its hot hitting.
For the third consecutive set the Wildcats claimed the first two points as the sophomore tandem of Pavan and Giesler provided kills to open the set. After Mississippi State knotted the score at two UK took complete control of the early going. The Wildcats scored seven of its first 10 points off of kills to go up 10-5 and forcing the home team into an early timeout.
Kentucky never relinquished control as the Wildcat offense was too much to handle. UK's defensive effort in the back row was equally impressive with a number points resulting in the diving saves from the entire squad. With UK leading 19-11, Mississippi State used its final timeout.
UK took a 20-11 lead after a block from Hiler and Pavan enabling redshirt-freshman setter Christine Hartmann to enter the lineup for quality action. She registered her first career assist when she found Pavan in a back slide. UK wrapped up the victory with a block from the duo of Giesler and Rapp to win 25-16.
The Wildcats used a match-high .467 hitting percentage while limiting Mississippi State to just .094 to roll to the finish.
Kentucky returns to action on Sunday with a road trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for a match-up with Alabama. Match time is set for 2:30 p.m. ET.
Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date news, highlights and features from the Kentucky volleyball team.