Floor Defense Leads UK to Win at Mississippi State
Nov. 5, 2010
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Behind a tremendous defensive effort from the floor the Kentucky volleyball team scored a 3-1 (25-17, 18-25, 25-19, 25-18) victory at Mississippi State on Friday. The Wildcats notched a season-best 77 digs in the victory led by a match-high 21 from sophomore Stephanie Klefot and a career-high total from freshman Whitney Billings with 19.
Kentucky (14-11, 8-7) had previously earned a pair of sweeps behind a dominating block effort, in tonight’s victory the winning factor came from the back row as four players notched 12 or more digs in the win. Senior Lauren Rapp posted 14 and sophomore Christine Hartmann added 12 to round out the players in double-figures in the category for the Blue and White.
“Our defense won the match for us tonight which has been a point of emphasis for us in practice this week,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “Offensively our middles, Becky (Pavan) and Gretchen (Giesler) put up big numbers for us. As long as we have a great defensive effort and a strong serving presence we usually come out on top.”
Juniors Becky Pavan and Gretchen Giesler led the offensive output for the Wildcats. Pavan had a match-high 13 kills on .423 hitting and Giesler added 10 on a .389 clip. Billings and senior Blaire Hiler each added nine. Hartmann had her team-leading sixth double-double effort with 39 assists to go along with her 12 digs. Freshman Jessi Greenberg contributed seven digs to UK’s winning effort.
Pavan opened the scoring for the match with a thunderous slam along the right side for an early 1-0 lead. Kentucky broke open a three-point edge at 6-3 behind a pair of kills from Billings. Pavan and Billings tacked on a few more kills and the UK defense forced Mississippi State into an error to take an 11-5 lead with Mississippi State opting for its first timeout of the stanza.
Out of the break, UK forced the Bulldogs into another erroneous attack. Kentucky eventually stretched its lead to 18-10 after consecutive home team errors. The Blue and White closed out the set to earn the first point with a 25-17 score.
The Blue and White were led by Billings with six kills in the set as UK charted 15 for the stanza on .237 hitting. Kentucky limited the Bulldogs to nine hammers on just .053 hitting. In the frame, Rapp charted her 1,200th career kill to become the 10th player in Kentucky history to amass 1,200 or more kills in a career.
Mississippi State captured the early advantage in the second frame. Kentucky eventually tied the score with a solo block from the hands of Rapp at seven apiece. The home team then earned a 7-3 run to claim a 14-10 lead and forcing UK into a timeout. The Bulldogs would go on to score the next three points to stretch their lead to 17-10 mid-way through the frame. UK rattled off three straight points behind a kill from Giesler and a pair of aces from Hiler to make the score 18-13 in favor of the home team. The Bulldogs were able to close out the set and even the score at one apiece behind a 25-18 second set win.
The Wildcats tossed down 11 kills in the frame led by four from Giesler. Mississippi State, however, posted 18 kills on .361 hitting in the stanza.
Kentucky struck first to open the third set as the visitors claimed a 4-0 edge to begin the frame. Pavan had a kill and an ace in the run to lead the way. A kill from Pavan and a block assist along with Rapp lifted UK to a 12-7 advantage forcing Mississippi State into an early timeout. The Wildcats maintained a comfortable lead throughout the stanza and behind three consecutive points from the duo of Hartmann and Giesler UK extended its advantage to 19-13. UK was able to close out the set behind another kill from Giesler to take a 25-19 victory and a 2-1 lead.
Kentucky posted 12 kills in the stanza led by three from Hartmann. UK’s defense was the difference in the third set with Mississippi State managing just eight hammers on negative .024 hitting. Kentucky had three blocks in the set, with Pavan and Hartmann teaming up for a pair.
The teams traded points back-and-forth to begin the fourth frame until UK went on a 5-0 run to take a 9-6 lead. In the run, UK had three kills and forced the Bulldogs into a pair of errors. UK continued to maintain its advantage throughout the set with Mississippi State only managing to get to within three points. Pavan tossed down a kill and then teamed up with Rapp for a block to give UK a 25-20 lead with Mississippi State opting to use its final timeout.
UK quickly closed out the set with two kills from Rapp and Hiler and Giesler also teamed up for a block to lift UK to a 3-1 win and a fourth set victory at 25-18. The Wildcats totaled 15 kills on a .178 attacking clip while limiting Mississippi State to .048 hitting and 10 kills.
Kentucky returns to action with a match-up at Alabama on Sunday, Nov. 7. UK and the Crimson Tide will meet at 2 p.m. ET. The match is set to air live on Fox Sports South.
Follow along all season long with the Wildcats at UKathletics.com.