No. 24 Kentucky Outlasts Auburn in Five Sets
Oct. 23, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. – A balanced performance both offensively and defensively lifted the No. 24 Kentucky volleyball team to a 3-2 (25-18, 21-25, 25-19, 21-25, 15-12) victory at Auburn on Sunday afternoon. Junior Christine Hartmann matched a career high with 54 assists and posted a career-best eight blocks to lead the charge.
With the win Kentucky improves to 19-4 overall and 10-2 in league play. Auburn drops to 9-13 overall and 3-9 in conference action.
“People might think I’m crazy for saying this, but we really needed that,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “We needed to know that we were capable of winning in a tough environment with our backs against the wall. Several people really stepped up for us in that fifth set led by Stephanie Klefot who showed tremendous leadership to push us through.”
Hartmann’s 54 assists led the offense as four players recorded 13 or more kills in the match and UK posted a .261 hitting percentage. Junior Ashley Frazier struck for 15 to lead the way, and senior Becky Pavan added 14. Sophomore Whitney Billings turned in a 13-kill performance on a squad-best .435 hitting percentage. Freshman Lauren O’Conner matched Billings with 13 kills.
On the defensive side of things, junior libero Stephanie Klefot had a season-best 26 digs in conference action to pace the back-line. Freshman Jackie Napper notched her second double-figure dig effort of the weekend with a career-best 13 scoops in league play. Pavan also had eight blocks in the match as the Wildcats totaled 14 in the five-set match. Senior Ann Armes totaled nine kills to aid the Wildcat cause.
Auburn opened the scoring in the final set and quickly secured a 5-1 lead to force the Wildcats into an early timeout. Out of the break, Auburn served the ball into the net and from there it was all UK. Frazier smacked down a kill and then O’Conner earned an ace. Frazier posted her second kill in two attempts in the set to even the score at five and force the Tigers into a timeout.
Following the break the Wildcats offense did not slow down as Pavan struck for a kill and then Frazier totaled two more to give UK an 8-5 lead. Auburn finally snapped the 7-0 UK run with a kill. The Wildcats two-point cushion was enough though as the Blue and White fended off the Tigers and stretched the lead to four at 12-8 following back-to-back errors by the Tigers. Auburn opted to use its final timeout.
Out of the break, Auburn posted a kill and then the Wildcats responded with consecutive kills from Billings and O’Conner for a 14-9 edge. The Tigers fended off match points on three occasions to pull to within 14-12 and the Wildcats opted to use its final timeout. UK used the break to regroup and O’Conner quickly lifted the Wildcats to a win with her 13th kill of the match.
The Blue and White earned a 25-18 first set victory to grab the early lead as the Wildcats utilized an 11-3 run to close out the set. Kentucky posted 16 kills on a sizzling .433 hitting percentage with six players recording two or more in the stanza.
Frazier opened the scoring with a kill, but Auburn responded with a quick four consecutive points. The Wildcats clawed their back into things and knotted the score at 11 following a kill from Billings. UK grabbed its first lead of the set when it forced the home squad into an erroneous attack. It was all Kentucky from there as the Wildcats scored 11 of the final 13 points which included five kills and a solo rejection from Hartmann.
Auburn captured the second set to even the match behind a 25-11 victory. The Wildcats charted just 11 kills on a .172 hitting clip and committed six errors. Auburn struck for 14 hammers on a .367 percentage to grab the win.
The Wildcats responded with a 25-19 third set victory to go up 2-1. The Blue and White created its own offense with 18 kills on a .364 hitting and five blocks to score 23 of its 25 points in the frame. Auburn committed just two other hitting errors in the frame.
Pavan opened the frame with a kill and then teamed up with Hartmann for a rejection for an early 2-0 edge. Auburn stormed back and took the lead at 3-2. Kentucky fought back and eventually captured the edge back on kills from Billings and O’Conner. The Wildcats then maintained a lead for the rest of the way. Pavan concluded the set the same way she began it with a kill.
Auburn forced the deciding fifth frame with a 25-21 fourth set win that featured six tie scores and a pair of lead changes. The Wildcats totaled just 12 kills on a .143 hitting clip as the Blue and White committed seven hitting errors in the set. Auburn, meanwhile, posted 15 hammers to stave off the visitors.
Kentucky resumes action with a pair of home matches next weekend. The Wildcats will first open up with South Carolina at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 28.
Kentucky's Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 9-10. UK is one of four sites selected for Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas, from the Lexington Region. Opening night matches are scheduled for 5 and 7 p.m. ET. Saturday’s final is set for a 4:30 p.m. ET first serve.
Tickets are now on sale through the UK Ticket Office. All-Session Tickets are reserved for all ages at $14. General Admission tickets for adults are priced at $12 and students or seniors' general admission is slated for $8.
Single session tickets are priced at $8 for reserved for all ages. General admission for adults is priced at $7, with students and seniors priced at $5. Youth single session tickets are $4.
For tickets or more information feel free to call, 1-800-928-CATS.
Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the UK volleyball team and all of Kentucky’s 22 teams.