Balance Guides Wildcats to Sweep of Arkansas

Nov. 12, 2010

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - With a balance of attack and strong defensive play, the Kentucky volleyball team secured its sixth consecutive season of 15 or more victories with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-21) sweep of visiting Arkansas Friday night in front of 1,292 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

Kentucky (15-12, 9-8) secured its sixth straight season with 15 or more victories for just the sixth time in school history and the first since the stretch of seasons from 1988-1983. Kentucky's win over the Razorbacks marked the eighth straight in the series. The win also signifies the 24th time in program history the Blue and White have won 15 or more matches.

The Wildcats achieved the victory in impressive fashion with a balance of attack as four UK players drilled 10 or more kills in the match. Kentucky's defense was equally as remarkable as the Wildcats forced Arkansas into 22 hitting errors for just a .082 hitting clip in the match.

"I thought we had a great combination of offense and defense tonight and it really kept us efficient and consistent throughout the whole match," UK coach Craig Skinner said. "We had a bit of a drop off in the third set, but we really finished strong. (Lauren) Rapp really stepped up in the end and made some huge plays for us. (Christine) Hartmann led our balanced attack and evenly distributed the ball to all of our attackers."

Senior Lauren Rapp paced the squad with 13 kills on a blistering .455 hitting percentage, while turning back a team-best five blocks. Of Kentucky's seven blocks on the night, Rapp was a part of five of the rejections. Sophomore setter Christine Hartmann posted her third consecutive double-double with 37 assists and a match-high 11 digs. No UK player had more than 26 attempts as five players ranged from 16-to-26 swings.

Freshman Whitney Billings charted 11 kills with a .269 average and picked up seven scoops. Juniors Gretchen Giesler and Becky Pavan each added 10 hammers to round out the Wildcats who reached double-figures in the kills' column.

The home team jumped out to an early 3-0 lead behind three consecutive blocks in the opening stanza. Kentucky would never relinquish its lead and the Razorbacks would only get as close as 4-2 the rest of the way. The Blue and White stretched its lead to 16-7 after a kill from Billings for the largest spread of the set. Consecutive kills from the hand of Pavan capped the frame with UK garnering a 25-16 victory.

Kentucky posted 16 kills in the first set on a match-high .414 hitting clip. Pavan and Billings each led the way with four kills in the stanza and Hartmann dished out 11 dimes.

The match's first tie score came at the 1-1 mark in the second set when Arkansas followed a kill from Pavan with a kill of its own. The teams would exchange points back and forth until the Wildcats broke loose at 7-6 behind a kill from Giesler. Arkansas would pull to within 17-14, but Kentucky answered with a block from the team of Giesler and Hartmann. The Blue and White closed out the frame on a 7-5 run and Billings capped the run with a kill for a 25-19 second set win and a 2-0 lead into intermission.

UK struck for 17 kills on .262 hitting with Rapp finding the floor five times. Kentucky's defense turned back three Razorback attacks and limited the visitors to a mere nine kills on .050 hitting in the set.

The final set proved to be a back-and-forth battle as the stanza featured eight tie score and there lead changes. Arkansas opened the scoring, but UK responded with the next two points behind consecutive hammers from Pavan. Kentucky earned a 16-11 advantage with a service ace from sophomore Stephanie Klefot. Arkansas climbed back into things and tied the score at 19-19 after forcing UK into a mishit. From there UK would close out the set on a 6-2 run highlighted by kills from senior Blaire Hiler, Giesler and a match-clinching hammer from Rapp.

UK tallied 15 kills on .250 hitting with Rapp once again pacing the scoring with five more kills. Arkansas put together a better offensive performance with a match-best 14 kills but on just .194 hitting.

The Wildcats will return to action on Sunday, Nov. 14 when they play host to 15th-ranked LSU. Prior to the match the Blue and White will bid farewell to the senior class of Hiler and Rapp.

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