Wildcats Fall to No. 21 Tennessee
Nov. 24, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Freshman Whitney Billings charted 12 kills, but it was not enough as No. 21 Tennessee defeated Kentucky 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-21) on the final night of regular season action Wednesday in Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky falls to 17-13 overall on the season and 11-9 in Southeastern Conference action. Tennessee improves to 24-6 and 15-5 in league play. UK will now await its fate for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. The NCAA will announce the field of 64 teams on Sunday, Nov. 28 at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN News. Kentucky is aiming for its school-record sixth consecutive bid into the national tournament.
Billings led the UK offense with 12 hammers and added six digs to pace the Blue and White. Seniors Blaire Hiler and Lauren Rapp each notched six kills, while Rapp led the front-line defense with four blocks. Sophomore Stephanie Klefot added a match-high 18 digs for UK as the Wildcats played in front of a home crowd of 1,425 fans and have now totaled over 1,000 fans in every home match this season.
"We didn't have the intensity or energy level to win the match tonight," UK coach Craig Skinner said. "Tennessee out-dug us by 15 balls and had almost 20 more kills than us. It's tough to come out on top against a good team with those numbers. We needed to make excellent plays and transition for points, and we just weren't able to capitalize on our opportunities."
Kentucky entered the match having won its last three matches including earning upsets of No. 15 LSU and of Ole Miss who sits in second place in the SEC West standings.
The Wildcats' were slowed offensively as Tennessee limited the home squad to just 29 kills on .095 hitting. Tennessee charted 47 kills on a .210 hitting clip in the victory.
Tennessee began the match with a 25-22 opening set victory. Kentucky began the scoring in the frame to take an early 2-0 lead. UK's defense forced a Tennessee hitting error and then Rapp found a spot for the match's first kill. Tennessee quickly evened the score at 2-2. The teams would then exchange points back and forth until the Lady Volunteers opened up a four-point edge at 20-16. Kentucky saved set-point on two occasions getting to within 24-22 behind a solo rejection from Rapp, but the Lady Vols would score the next point to claim the opening set.
Hiler led the way in the stanza with four kills for UK, while Rapp led the defensive effort with a pair of blocks.
The senior duo of Hiler and Rapp combined for a rejection to begin the second set. Tennessee would answer with four consecutive points to capture a lead it would never relinquish. Kentucky got to within four at 16-12 behind a block from Hiler and junior Gretchen Giesler. The visitors would close out the set on a 9-5 run to earn a 25-17 second set win and a 2-0 lead into the locker room.
Billings paced the attack with four kills in the set, with Rapp and Hiler each posting two blocks.
In the third frame, it was the visitor's who began the scoring claiming a lead it would never yield. Kentucky tied the score twice, once at 1-1 and again at 2-2 but would not be able to get any closer. Tennessee pushed its lead to seven points at 21-14. UK would go on to score six of the next eight points behind a pair of kills from Rapp and an ace from Klefot. Kentucky staved off match-point twice, before the Lady Vols conclude the match with a 25-21 victory.
Billings erupted for seven kills in the set on .385 hitting to give the Wildcats a chance. The Wildcats also managed a match-best .219 hitting percentage in the stanza led by Billings' above .300 clip.
Follow along all season long with the Wildcats at UKathletics.com.