Wildcats Outlast Georgia in Five-Set Thriller

Oct. 28, 2012

Final Stats | Photo Gallery 

ATHENS, Ga. – In a thrilling five-set match the Kentucky volleyball team outlasted the Georgia Bulldogs 3-2 (25-13, 24-26, 25-19, 23-25, 15-12) for its second-consecutive five-set victory this weekend. UK was paced by senior setter Christine Hartmann who directed the offense to 72 kills on .338 hitting while contributing a career-high 19 digs in the win.

“We responded and played very tough against a really good Georgia team,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “Georgia has as much fire-power as anyone in the conference and we were able to withstand it with our blocking defense as the match went on. We had some great defensive plays by (Jessi) Greenberg and (Christine) Hartmann; and a big-time kill from (Lauren) O’Conner at the end of the match. We showed the grit we needed to win on the road.”

With the win Kentucky improves to 15-8 overall and 9-4 in Southeastern Conference action. Georgia falls to 13-9 and 7-5 in league play. UK will return to action with two home dates next weekend. Up first is a match against Ole Miss on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.

Kentucky got off to a quick start in the decisive fifth set as junior Whitney Billings began the scoring with a kill. Junior Alexandra Morgan tallied a pair of kills in the stretch as UK took a 4-1 lead. Following a Georgia timeout, the home team scored three-straight to knot things at four. The teams would swap points, and then UK earned a 3-0 run of its own to take an 8-5 lead into the switching of sides.

The Bulldogs did not go away, however, climbing back to within two at 9-7 after consecutive points. UK took a break to attempt to quell the Bulldog run. Georgia would eventually knot the score at 11, before the Wildcats scored two straight capped by a kill high off the hands from sophomore Lauren O’Conner for a 13-11 edge. Georgia then took its final timeout. The Bulldogs scored off a kill out of the break, but the Wildcats closed out the set by scoring the final two points for the 15-12 win.

UK scored 10 of its points off kills in the final stanza with a .348 hitting clip. Georgia managed nine hammers on .261 hitting.

Kentucky received standout performances from several players led by Hartmann. The senior setter found four Wildcats for double-figure kills for the second-consecutive match. Billings led the way with 18 kills on an astounding .452 hitting percentage. Billings also logged her third-straight double-double with 14 digs to her stat sheet.

Morgan had a career-high 15 kills on a blazing  .500 hitting clip and added four blocks. O’Conner notched 14 hammers and had a team-high two service aces. Senior Ashley Frazier was the final UK player to reach double-figures as she also had 15 hammers on .250 hitting. She added three blocks and an ace in the win.

Freshman Sara Schwarzwalder posted seven kills and matched a career-high with a team-best eight blocks. Senior Stephanie Klefot had 17 digs and five assists, while junior Jessi Greenberg contributed eight digs and sophomore Jackie Napper had six.

The Wildcats came out firing on all cylinders and jumped out to an early 8-4 advantage that forced the Bulldogs into an early timeout. Frazier had two early kills as the Wildcats did not commit an error in its first six swings of the stanza. The Bulldogs fought back to within two before the Blue and White utilized a 4-0 run to push the lead to six at 18-12. UK came up with a pair of blocks in the run to couple with quality offense. The Dawgs opted to use their final timeout, and UK wasted little time in adding to the advantage with another 4-0 run to increase the lead to 22-12. UK closed out the set on a 3-1 run that concluded with a Schwarzwalder-Billings block for the 25-13 win.

UK blasted the Bulldogs for 14 kills on .462 hitting. Billings led the way with five kill son a perfect 1.000 hitting clip. Georgia managed just eight kills on .115 hitting and committed five errors that went into UK blocks.

Georgia responded with a quick start to the second set taking a four-point lead at 15-11 to force the Blue and White into a timeout midway through the frame. Kentucky eventually climbed back to take a 21-20 advantage, but the Bulldogs fought through the Wildcats’ comeback effort and outlasted the visitors for a 26-24 second set win.

The Days hit .258 with 13 kills, while UK managed 14 kills on .407 hitting. However, UK committed five errors combined between hitting and service errors.

The two teams swapped points to begin the third frame before the Wildcats shook loose for a 3-0 run capped by an O’Conner kill for a 10-7 lead. Georgia chose to use its first timeout of the set. The Wildcats continued its hot pursuit stretching their lead to five at 18-13 following a Schwarzwalder and Frazier rejection. Kentucky continued to roll resulting in a 25-19 third set win as UK capped the stanza with a pair of blocks and a clinching kill from the hand of Frazier.

Kentucky scored 16 kills on .324 hitting in the frame, with Georgia posting 12 on .143 hitting. UK also had five rejections in the set.

Georgia was able to utilize a 3-0 run to earn a 12-9 lead early in the fourth set to force the Wildcats into an early timeout. The Bulldogs were able to continue its streak and stretched the lead to five at 16-11 forcing UK to use its final timeout. After trailing by as many as six late in the set, UK clawed back to tie the score at 23, but the Bulldogs scored the final two points to force a decisive fifth frame.

Kentucky totaled 15 kills on .268 hitting, and Georgia had 16 kills on .217 hitting. UK’s four errors were too much to overcome as the Bulldogs were able to pull out the win.

Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the UK volleyball team. For additional coverage of the volleyball squad be sure and check out CatScratchesBlog.com/volleyball.