Kentucky's Defensive Wall Overwhelms Georgia
Oct. 29, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A stifling Kentucky defense was too much for visiting Georgia as the Wildcats used 15.5 blocks to roll to a 3-0 (25-20, 25-12, 25-17) victory Friday night in front of 1,126 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky's (12-11, 6-7 SEC) 15.5 rejections marked the fifth time this season the Blue and White had eclipsed the 15-block plateau, but the first in a three-set match. The Wildcats totaled a season-best 19 turn-backs in a five-set match at Auburn, while notching more than 15 on three other occasions in matches that all had four or more sets played.
"I'm very pleased with the way we played tonight," UK coach Craig Skinner said. "We played with confidence and we played extremely fast. Our focus was on each and every point and that was exceptional.
"Our players came into practice this week and were determined to get better," Skinner said. "Our blocking and serving has been very average in the past few weeks and we really stepped up in those areas tonight."
Five players earned three or more blocks on the evening led by junior Gretchen Giesler who posted three solo rejections and teamed up for three more for a total of six blocks. Freshman Whitney Billings and senior Blaire Hiler each totaled a pair of solos and a pair of block assists, with junior Becky Pavan adding four block assists. Senior Lauren Rapp added three block assists to contribute to UK's stifling front line.
Billings led the offensive output which was at its best in the second stanza. The freshman from Helena, Ala., was the lone player in the match to reach double figures with 10 hammers. Rapp was not far behind with nine kills and nearly missed out on a double-double with eight digs. Hiler struck for seven kills and Pavan and Giesler each had four. Setter Christine Hartmann dished out 28 assists and led the Blue and White to the tune of 36 kills on .226 hitting. Hartmann also added a pair of blocks.
Sophomore Stephanie Klefot had a match-high 11 digs from the back line, while freshman Jessi Greenberg contributed four scoops on the night. Kentucky allowed just 26 kills in the match for a negative .010 hitting percentage.
The lead swapped hands just six times in the entire match and the score was tied just 12 times throughout the three-set affair.
Pavan opened the match with a thunderous kill to lift the Wildcats to a 1-0 lead in the opening frame it would never relinquish. The score was tied just once at 1-1, but UK utilized a 3-0 run behind a pair of kills from Hiler and Billings to stretch the UK lead to 4-1 and the Bulldogs would never get any closer. Hiler's kill closed out the frame with UK capturing a 25-20 victory.
Rapp totaled five kills and a pair of blocks to pace the Wildcats in the opening stanza. Billings chipped in with four hammers as six players registered at least one kill. Kentucky totaled 17 kills in the set on .237 hitting. Georgia managed just 10 kills on .118 hitting.
Billings led the charge in what was perhaps the Wildcats' most complete performance of the season. The freshman posted six kills in the set to lead a UK offense that rallied for 12 kills on a dazzling .526 hitting clip. UK's defense ignited the high-octane offensive output as the Wildcats totaled a staggering eight blocks in the frame.
Pavan once again opened the scoring to begin the set. A UK service error on the next possession was the only tie score in the entire frame as the Wildcats immediately opened up an 11-1 run and claimed a 12-2 advantage. During the string of points, Kentucky had five solo rejections. An ace by Klefot closed out the set for a 25-12 Kentucky win and a 2-0 lead into intermission.
The third set proved a bit more challenging for the Blue and White, as Georgia forced six lead changes and 10 ties in the stanza. Kentucky totaled just seven kills on .056 hitting, while the visitor's notched 11 kills on a negative .025 clip. The Wildcats scored four points off of blocks and benefited from 12 more misfires from the Bulldogs.
Kentucky quickly took the early 1-0 lead by forcing Georgia into an erroneous attack. From there the teams would swap points back-and-forth until the score was tied at 15-15. From there, Kentucky would close out the set on a 10-2 run and secure the 3-0 sweep by a 25-17 margin. In the final run, UK forced five Bulldog attacking errors including the final two points of the set.
The Blue and White returns to action on Sunday, Oct. 31 for a 1 p.m. ET match. Kentucky welcomes Auburn to Memorial Coliseum for a match set to air live on FS South with Dave Baker and Phil Bush on the call.
Follow along all season long with the Wildcats at UKathletics.com.