Giesler Powers No. 11 UK to Win Over Alabama
Nov. 6, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Behind the inspired play of sophomore middle blocker Gretchen Giesler, the 11th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats earned a 3-1 (25-11, 22-25, 25-12, 25-15) victory over visiting Alabama on Friday evening in Memorial Coliseum. Giesler posted a career-high 13 kills on a sizzling .619 attack percentage while adding four blocks from her middle blocker position.
Kentucky (23-2, 13-1) combined for 57 kills on the night on a remarkable.336 attack percentage. Giesler was the spark to the UK attack, but several Wildcats scored top performances. Junior Sarah Mendoza led the squad with 16 kills while adding 10 digs for her 21st career double-double effort. Senior setter Sarah Rumely also notched a double-double with 47 assists and 12 scoops. It is the 37th double-double of her career.
From the back-line senior libero BriAnne Sauer earned a match-high 25 digs to record the 23rd match of her career with 20 or more scoops. Junior Laura Stokowski contributed 10 digs to put four UK players in double figures in the digs column.
Junior Lauren Rapp struck for eight kills, while junior Blaire Hiler and sophomore Becky Pavan each added seven hammers. Giesler led the blocking defense with four blocks, but five Wildcats recorded at least one rejection.
"It was another good Friday at home for us," Kentucky coach Craig Skinner said. "I thought our team executed very well for three quarters of that match. Game two was a unique situation, but Alabama is capable of doing a lot of things and they showed that in spurts tonight. I thought our middle attack was great tonight with Gretchen (Giesler), (Lauren) Rapp and Becky (Pavan) with all three of them getting kills in transition. Our defense was exceptional as well.
"We're really excited about the crowd tonight. It shows that they (the fans) fully support this team and are really focused on each individual match."
A notable crowd of 1,431 enthusiastic fans watched the Blue and White steam roll to a 25-11 opening set victory. UK posted a .393 attacking percentage behind 14 kills. With Alabama trailing by one at 5-4, the Wildcats put together an 8-0 run to pull away for a 13-4 advantage. It was a lead they would never relinquish as Kentucky finished off the set with a block from the combination of Mendoza and Giesler for the opening frame victory.
After the Crimson Tide evened the match into the intermission with a 25-22 set two victory, Kentucky would cap off the match with 25-12 and 25-15 set wins to clinch the match.
In the third set, Alabama opened the stanza by capturing the first two points. However, the Blue and White would quickly find its rhythm powering its way to a 13-5 advantage behind nine opening kills. The Wildcats would log another imposing run by stringing together a 7-3 dash. Once again the set was capped off by a block as Rumely stuffed an Alabama attack.
For the third set the Wildcats posted 17 kills on a scorching .471 hitting percentage. Six different UK players scored on a kill in the stanza with Mendoza earning six kills on .545 hitting and Giesler tallying four with a .667 clip.
UK matched its kill output of the third set with 17 more hammers in the fourth frame. The fourth stanza was a back and forth battle with Alabama holding an early 6-4 advantage before the UK offensive explosion began. Rapp scored on four consecutive possessions to give the home squad a 9-6 lead. Alabama would never again come within four points of Kentucky's high octane offense.
Serving proved to be a huge difference maker in the match with the Wildcats matching a season-high with seven aces on the night. Sauer led the way with three points on a first serve, while Mendoza and Giesler each struck for a pair of aces. Alabama committed 11 service errors for the match.
The Wildcats return to action on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET when UK hosts Mississippi State at Memorial Coliseum.
For the most up-to-date news, highlights and features about the Kentucky volleyball team please visit UKathletics.com.