No. 8 Kentucky Records Sweep at Alabama
Oct. 18, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Kentucky capped off its two-match road swing with its second consecutive sweep (26-24, 25-19, 25-18) this time at the hands of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Sunday. The Wildcats' hot-hitting continued as the squad registered its 18 th match hitting above .200 and UK's defensive effort at the net enabled the Wildcats to roll to its ninth-consecutive victory.
Kentucky (19-1, 9-0) used a .381 attacking clip and forced Alabama into 19 hitting errors to earn its second straight sweep. Juniors Sarah Mendoza, Lauren Rapp and Blaire Hiler led the way offensively for the Wildcats. Mendoza charted a team-best 14 kills and Rapp chipped in with 11 on a .550 attack percentage. Hiler tallied eight on the day with an impressive .538 hitting clip.
“Offensively we were good again today,” Kentucky coach Craig Skinner said. “Both Blaire (Hiler) and (Lauren) Rapp were on attacking wise and it's always great to get balance like that because it is really hard to stop.”
Senior setter Sarah Rumely dished out 39 assists and sophomore Becky Pavan led the way with four blocks at the net. Senior BriAnne Sauer paved the way in the back row with a match-high 13 digs. Freshman Stephanie Klefot had two service aces and chipped in with six scoops.
Alabama opened the match with a kill to take an early lead, but UK responded with a quick two points. After a service error by the home team Sauer opened the Kentucky scoring with an ace. The teams traded points back and forth for the early portions of the set until a 6-6 tie was broken by a kill from Hiler. UK stretched its lead to four in the early going with back-to-back service aces by Klefot to make the score 12-8 in favor of the Blue and White.
The Tide pulled to within two at 14-12, but three consecutive points from the Wildcats stretched the lead back to five at 17-12. The Wildcats benefited from an Alabama miscue and then Mendoza and Rumely posted consecutive kills to cap off the run. With UK leading by a comfortable margin Alabama opted to use its second timeout of the frame.
The home squad continued to chip away at Kentucky's lead, eventually tying the score at 20 apiece after three straight points from the Tide. The teams swapped points back and forth with neither team relinquishing much in the tight first set. Alabama saved set point once after UK went up 24-23 behind a kill from Mendoza. However, UK would go on to score the next two points behind kills from Giesler and Rumely to take the first set 26-24.
UK used a .306 hitting clip to overcome the Tide in the first frame. The Wildcats registered 14 kills, five coming from Mendoza. The Wildcats also picked up 16 digs in the set with Sauer leading the way with eight.
“I thought we were very composed at the end of game one when the score was tight,” Skinner said. “Alabama is a physical team and they bring a lot of heat at you. You either have to play great defense or side out very well and we did both of those in spurts.”
Alabama began the second set by taking an early lead at 3-1. UK slowly chipped away at the lead to eventually even the score at eight forcing the Tide into a hitting error. Kentucky then claimed its first lead of the set behind a stifling block from Rapp and Pavan – followed by a Mendoza kill to go up 10-8 and force the Tide into a timeout.
Out of the break UK stretched its lead to 13-9 with some hot serving by Klefot. The Wildcats continued to maintain a five-point edge until Alabama registered back-to-back points to inch closer at 16-13. However, UK answered with consecutive kills from Hiler and Rumely to stretch its lead back to 18-13 and forcing Alabama into its final timeout of the stanza.
The Wildcats maintained control and never allowed Alabama to get closer than four points at 20-16. Rumely and Giesler teamed up for a set-clinching block to take the frame 25-19.
UK's hot-hitting continued with a .407 hitting percentage in the second stanza. Mendoza had four kills in the set with Rapp and Pavan both tallying three apiece to lead the Wildcats.
To open the third set the teams exchanged points back and forth with neither team gaining more than a two point edge. Kentucky finally shook loose for three straight points to earn a 15-12 edge. Hiler got things going with a solo block and then chipped in with Rumely for consecutive kills in the run. Following a timeout, Alabama sent a shot wide allowing UK to go up by four at 16-12. A three-point run from the home team brought the score to 16-15, and the Wildcats opted to use a timeout.
Hiler ended the run with a clever touch shot that found a gap in the defense over the block. Then Alabama misfired into the net followed by a solo block from Pavan which allowed UK to reclaim the lead at 19-15. UK kept a strong-hold on the lead and never relinquished a run by the Tide for the remainder of the set rolling to a match-clinching set victory by a 25-18 margin.
Kentucky hit a match-high .485 in the final set and limited Alabama to a match-low .229 percentage.
UK returns to action on Wednesday with a home date with Tennessee. Match time is set for 7:04 p.m. ET on Oct. 21. The match will air live on ESPNU as a part of the Campus Connection. The first 2,000 students in attendance will receive a wristband for access into the UK Men's Basketball student-only practice on Friday at 1:30 pm
Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date news, highlights and features from the Kentucky volleyball team.