Balanced Attack Propels #19 UK to Sweep of Auburn
Nov. 21, 2008
AUBURN, Ala. - The 19th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team earned its 17th victory in Southeastern Conference play with a 3-0 sweep on the road at Auburn Friday. The Blue and White used a balanced offensive attack while holding the Tigers to just a .039 hitting percentage for the night. The Wildcats earned set victories of 25-20, 25-15 and 25-18 to claim the match.
Kentucky (26-4, 17-2) was led by sophomore Sarah Mendoza's nine kills, followed by eight from sophomore Lauren Rapp. Senior Queen Nzenwa, freshman Becky Pavan and sophomore Blaire Hiler all chipped in with seven kills for the match. Junior setter Sarah Rumely was the director of the balanced attack as she distributed the ball for 33 assists. Leading the back line was junior BriAnne Sauer and sophomore Laura Stokowski who notched nine and seven, digs respectively.
At the net, Pavan paced the blocking efforts with seven. Rumely added five, while Nzenwa contributed three.
"I'm really proud of our team for coming out and winning the first set," said Head Coach Craig Skinner. "Auburn has been taking a lot of opening sets from good teams, so I was glad that we concentrated and came out with great effort. We really played well as a team tonight."
The Blue and White jumped out in front early after an Auburn error and an ace by Rumely giving them a 2-0 edge to start the first set. Auburn would go on to tie the score, and then the two teams traded points back and forth. The home squad would break away for the largest lead in the early going at 10-7. But, the Wildcats roared back scoring the next four points highlighted by a block off the arms of Nzenwa and Rumely to take an 11-10 lead. The two squads traded points back and forth once again until UK broke away to take a three point advantage at 18-15.
Nzenwa and Rumely tallied back-to-back kills, and then Nzenwa and Hiler teamed up for a block in the stretch. Auburn wouldn't go away though, as the Tigers rattled off three points of their own to knot the score once again at 18. An attacking error by the home squad gave UK a 21-20 edge and the Blue and White would score the next four points. Pavan ended things for Kentucky with a solo block and a set-clinching kill for the 25-20 first-set win.
After trailing 3-0 in the early going of the second set, an ace by Mendoza gave the Wildcats a 5-4 advantage. It would be a lead they would never relinquish en route to taking a 25-15 win and a 2-0 set lead.
The Wildcats took their largest lead of the second frame after scoring five straight points in the middle part of the set, claiming an 18-11 edge. Mendoza notched a pair of kills, and Rumely and Pavan teamed up for a block in the stretch which forced Auburn to use a timeout. Out of the break the duo sent another rejection back onto Auburn's side of the court for a 19-11 edge. Rapp tallied the final two points for the Wildcats off a powerful kill and an ace.
Auburn once again took the first point of the set, but their lead would not last for long as UK went on a 5-1 run to take a 7-3 lead in the third. Auburn pulled within two at 8-6, but Kentucky fired back with six of the next eight points for a 14-8 edge. In that run, Nzenwa tallied a pair of kills and added her first career ace in SEC action. Kentucky earned the match clinching point on a block from Pavan and Rapp for the 25-18 victory.
Kentucky returns to action Friday, Nov. 28. The Wildcats will host Tennessee in the regular season finale at Memorial Coliseum. The match is slated for a 7 p.m. start and admission to the event is free.
Live stats and free video streaming is available at Kentucky's official website UKathletics.com. Stay tuned all season long to follow along with the Cats.