Alabama Rallies to Down Kentucky in Five Sets

Nov. 7, 2010

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Despite three players with career performances and a 2-0 lead, Alabama rallied to defeat Kentucky in five-thrilling sets (16-25, 20-25, 25-21, 25-23, 15-13) on Sunday in Tuscaloosa, Ala. UK received career days from Gretchen Giesler, Stephanie Klefot and Christine Hartmann, but it was not enough to fend off a feisty Alabama team.

Kentucky drops to 14-12 and 8-8 in Southeastern Conference action with the loss. Giesler posted a career-high 16 kills, Hartmann dished out a career-topping 54 assists and Klefot posted a career-best and match-high 28 digs.

Senior Lauren Rapp led the Blue and White with 18 kills and added 15 digs for her 10th career double-double effort. Freshman Whitney Billings added a double-double with 14 kills and 16 digs. Junior Becky Pavan was the fourth Wildcat to reach double-figures with 10 kills in the match and senior Blaire Hiler just missed with nine hammers. Freshman Jessi Greenberg chipped in with nine digs which matches a career-best.

Alabama took a 3-1 lead in the fifth frame, but UK quickly tied the score with kills from Giesler and Hiler. Kentucky took an 8-7 lead into the switching of sides following a solo block from Billings. The Tide immediately knotted the score at eight, but UK scored a kill from Rapp and then forced the Tide into the third erroneous attack of the stanza.

With Kentucky ahead by a 12-10 margin following another kill from Hiler, Alabama rattled off three straight kills to recapture the lead at 13-12 forcing Kentucky into a timeout. Out of the break, Alabama was able to convert on a long rally to take match-point at 14-12. Kentucky was able to force the Tide into a hit long, but Alabama quickly responded with a kill to claim the match.

Rapp began the scoring for the match with a kill on an overpass after a strong serve from Billings. The teams traded points off of kills until the UK defense finally forced the Tide into a hitting error to make the score 5-3 in favor of UK. The Wildcats stretched their lead to 10-5 off of three straight points led by Billings and Rapp. The duo each laid down a kill and then teamed up for a block to propel the Blue and White to the five-point edge and force Alabama to use an early timeout.

UK kept the pressure on the home squad as the Wildcats' offense was relentless. Of UK's first 18 points 15 came in the form of a kill. Kentucky led 18-11 after consecutive points from a Billings and Pavan block and another Rapp kill and the Tide chose to use its final timeout. Kentucky did not allow the Tide to get any closer as the Blue and White finished the set with a 25-16 win.

The Wildcats scorched the Tide defense for 20 kills on a blazing .606 hitting percentage. Billings led the way with six kills on .600 hitting, while Rapp added five hammers on .500 hitting. Six UK players recorded a kill in the frame.

Alabama scored the first point of the second stanza, but UK quickly responded to even the score at one. Kentucky opened up a four-point lead at 8-4 after another Billings kill, however Alabama clawed back to tie the score at 11. Kentucky would then force a pair of erroneous attacked by the Tide to reclaim the lead. Hartmann and Giesler finished the rally with kills to take a 15-12 edge into the television timeout.

Kentucky finished out the set on a 10-8 run to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission. UK posted 13 kills led by four from both Rapp and Giesler in the stanza, while limiting Alabama to just 12 kills on .111 hitting.

After the Tide captured the first point of the third frame, Kentucky answered with kills from Pavan and Giesler. The Wildcats maintained a lead throughout much of the first portion of the set, but the home team fought back to tie the score at 13 and then take the lead on the next play for a 14-13 edge and UK opted to use its first timeout of the set.

Following the timeout, UK evened the score immediately with a kill from Giesler. The teams would go on to trade points until the Tide opened up a three-point edge at 19-16. Kentucky clawed back and following Giesler's 10th kill of the match and an mishit by the Tide UK pulled back to 22-20 and Alabama chose to use a timeout.

The Wildcats quickly claimed a lead behind a kill from Pavan in the fourth frame. Rapp and Hiler scored four consecutive points as the duo each had a kill and then Rapp served up a pair of aces for a 6-2 lead in the early stages of the stanza. Alabama continued to fight, however, as the home team eventually crawled back into things to tie the score at 16.

Following a Kentucky timeout, UK earned the lead back when Alabama served the ball into the net and then Giesler found a spot on an overpass to give UK a two-point edge at 18-16. Alabama would not go away. With UK leading, 23-20, the Tide scored the final five points of the set to even the match at two apiece and send the match into a deciding fifth frame.

Kentucky returns to action with a pair of home games next weekend. UK takes on Arkansas at 7 p.m. ET on Nov. 12 and top-25 ranked LSU on Sunday, Nov. 14 at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Follow along all season long with the Wildcats at UKathletics.com.