Bergren's Record Setting Day Leads UK to Sweep of Arkansas
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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The No. 15 Kentucky volleyball team sent its seniors off in style with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-20) win over Arkansas Saturday night, but it was the record-setting hitting percentage by junior setter Morgan Bergren that led the balanced attack.
Bergren had a team-high 10 kills on 10 attempts for a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage as the Wildcats (26-5, 15-3) closed the regular season on a three-match winning streak. Bergren's hitting percentage marks a new UK and Memorial Coliseum record. The Muncie, Ind., native added a match-high 25 assists for her seventh double-double of the season in addition to a team-high two service aces.
"A double-double and hitting a 1,000, I don't think I've seen that before," UK head coach Craig Skinner said. "It's pretty cool for a setter to have those kinds of numbers and to help keep Arkansas off balance throughout the match."
Bergren's record-setting numbers highlighted a balanced match overall for UK, as four Wildcats had at least seven kills, two recorded nine or more digs and five had at least two blocks. Kentucky totaled nine blocks and had five service aces with just one error. UK hit .294 with 41 kills while holding Arkansas to .168 hitting with 41 kills, three blocks and no aces.
"I thought we were pretty balanced offensively and got a lot of people involved," Skinner said. "The biggest difference in our match was the serving. We served tough with one error and five aces, that's off the charts in terms of ace-to-error ratio. I also thought our concentration was good."
Bergren's perfect hitting percentage broke the Memorial Coliseum record and program record in a three-set match in the 25-point rally scoring era, set in 2008 when Queen Nzenwa hit .867, also against Arkansas.
Freshman Kaz Brown and sophomore Anni Thomasson had eight kills, while Brown led the way at the net with six block assists. Redshirt freshman Emily Franklin added seven kills and three blocks. Senior Lauren O'Conner posted four kills and two blocks.
As part of Senior Night festivities before the match, Napper, O'Conner and fellow senior Alyssa Gergins were honored, along with managers Quentin Muth and Kristen Sanford. They have helped the Wildcats advance to the NCAA Tournament in every season of their careers, advanced to the Sweet 16 twice and won at least 22 matches every year.
Tonight's win concluded the regular season for the Wildcats who will await their fate for an at-large bid and a program-record 10th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Selection Show will air at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU on Sunday, Nov. 30.
Kentucky benefited from an Arkansas miscue to begin the scoring in the first set. The Razorbacks tied it up, before an O'Conner kill ignited a 4-0 rally for the Wildcats to capture a 5-1 lead. After Arkansas came to within three at 8-5, Thomasson found a spot in the corner and then Tronick and Franklin teamed up for a block to once again give UK a comfortable edge. An O'Conner kill pushed the lead to five at 13-8 and Arkansas opted for a timeout. An ace from Bergren was followed by an Arkansas errant attack and the Wildcats earned their largest lead of the frame at 17-11. Consecutive kills from Bergren and Thomasson capped the set as UK rolled to a 25-16 win.`
The Wildcats charted 13 kills on a .365 hitting percentage in the frame. O'Conner had four kills on a .444 clip. Bergren dished out 10 assists and found five different attackers for at least one kill. Workman and Napper both had three digs, while Franklin led the way with three blocks to help limit the Razorbacks to a .118 attacking percentage and nine hitting errors.
The teams exchanged points to begin the second set. The final tie came at seven apiece, before the Wildcats scored three-straight including a block from Brown and O'Conner to give the home team a 10-7 edge. O'Conner and Brown teamed up again for another rejection to give UK its largest lead at 13-9. Tronick capitalized on an overpass to lift the Wildcats to a 15-10 lead and Arkansas chose to take its final timeout. After the timeout, Brown took advantage of an overpass, O'Conner had an ace and Thomasson followed with a kill for an 18-10 UK lead. It was a lead Kentucky would not relinquish, as Bergren sealed the set victory with a kill for a 25-18 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
UK charted 14 kills on a .333 attacking percentage in second stanza, while Arkansas posted 14 kills on a .212 percentage. Bergren led the way with five kills on five attempts while also dishing out six assists. Dusek had three digs and Brown and O'Conner both had a pair of blocks.
The third set began in similar fashion to the second, with the teams swapping points. Kentucky then opened up a three-point lead at 7-4 benefiting from a trio of Razorbacks' errors. Arkansas pulled to within one at 10-9, but Franklin came up with a kill to squelch the run. The visitors would not go away, however, and eventually tied the score at 13 apiece. Thomasson immediately broke the tie with her eighth kill of the night. Napper extended the Wildcats' lead to a multi-point edge at 15-13 into the media timeout. Consecutive kills from Franklin forced the Razorbacks to use a timeout trailing UK, 17-14, midway in the third set. A kill from Workman gave the Wildcats their largest lead at 20-15, but the visitors scored two-straight, and Skinner opted to use his first timeout.
Following the timeout, Bergren came up with her 10th kill of the match, marking the second time in her career she eclipsed the double-figure plateau. Brown and Bergren then teamed up for a block to lift the Wildcats to a 21-18 lead. UK had match point at 24-18, but the Razorbacks rallied for two points before an extended rally eventually won the match for the Wildcats on an Arkansas miscue at 25-20 to complete the sweep.
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