No. 19 UK Faces Road Tests at Arkansas, No. 7 Missouri

Oct. 31, 2013

UK at Arkansas: Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET
UK vs. Alabama: Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. ET Radio: at Arkansas | at Missouri
Live Video : at Arkansas | at Missouri
Live Stats : at Arkansas | at Missouri
Match Info: Match Notes
Additional Info: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | 2013 Fact Book

After a brief, 2-0 homestand, the No. 19 University of Kentucky volleyball team returns to the road for a pair of weekend contests at Arkansas and at No. 7 Missouri. The Wildcats and Razorbacks square off Friday at 8 p.m. ET, while the Tigers host UK Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

A video stream of Friday’s contest can be found on, while Sunday’s match will stream on Both of this weekend’s matches will feature a live audio broadcast on, with Mandy Robbe and Katie Eiserman on the call. Live stats for both contests can also be found on

The Wildcats sit at 15-5 and are 7-2 in SEC action. UK won both home contests last weekend, with a sweep of Mississippi State and a 3-1 decision over Alabama. The sweep of the Bulldogs was UK’s 10th 3-0 win of the season. The win over the Crimson Tide, in which Kentucky posted a fourth-set comeback, featured 15 blocks by the Blue and White.

Arkansas boasts a 13-9 record, with a 6-5 SEC mark, while Mizzou is a perfect 25-0 and 9-0 in league play. The Razorbacks lost both contests last weekend, at Texas A&M and LSU. The Tigers won both road outings last weekend, also at LSU and Texas A&M. MU plays host to Ole Miss Friday before welcoming the Wildcats to Columbia Sunday.

Arkansas is 13-9 on the season with a 6-5 Southeastern Conference record. Before losses at Texas A&M and LSU last weekend, the Razorbacks had played four of their last five contests at home. The home stretch included wins over Auburn and Georgia and losses to Alabama and No. 2 Florida. Arkansas is 6-5 at home, with a 2-3 SEC mark.

UA is led by Robert Pulliza, in his sixth season as head coach. The second head coach in program history, he has led the Razorbacks to an 87-90 record and the team’s first NCAA tournament appearance last season. Pulliza served as associate head coach at Kentucky from 2004-07 under head coach Craig Skinner. As a player at Ball State, he lead the Cardinals to the NCAA Final Four in 1994 and 1995, a feat he also accomplished as an assistant coach at Wisconsin in 2000.

The Razorbacks are led by junior Meredith Hays, who has notched 342 kills on the season and a 4.07 kills per set average. She is second on the team with 203 digs and third with 40 blocks. Freshman Breana Jones has a team-best .339 hitting clip, to go along with 102 kills and 42 blocks, which ranks third on the squad. Senior Raymariely Santos leads the Razorbacks with 533 assists in addition to contributing 195 digs and 117 kills. Fellow senior Ashley Vazquez has 438 assists with a team-high 24 service aces. Emily Helm, also a senior, has a team-high 387 digs, while 58 blocks from redshirt freshman Ana Sofia Jusino is a UA high.

Kentucky leads the all-time series against the Razorbacks by a 17-15 margin but are 7-8 in road outings. Arkansas won both meetings last season, 3-0 in Lexington and 3-2 in Fayetteville. Before the two-straight defeats, the Wildcats had won 10 straight contests.

Coming into the weekend, Missouri boasts a 25-0 mark on the season with a 9-0 record in SEC play. The Tigers have won 14 at home, including five league outings. Mizzou’s signature win was Oct. 20, a 3-1 triumph over No. 2 Florida in Columbia. MU hosts Ole Miss Friday evening.

The Tigers are led by Wayne Kreklow, in his ninth season at the helm and 14th at MU. He is assisted by Susan Kreklow, who was the head coach from 2000-2004 and currently is the Director of Volleyball. The duo, who also coached Columbia College together before coming to Mizzou, has led the Tigers to a 318-144 record in 14 combined seasons. The Kreklows have led MU to 10 NCAA appearances.

Going into the weekend, senior Lisa Henning leads Missouri with 353 kills and a 4.30 kills per set average, while her .333 hitting clip is sixth on the team. Junior Whitney Little has a team-best .493 hitting percentage and 93 blocks, also a team high. Fellow junior Sarah Meister has an MU best 317 digs, while senior Molly Kreklow leads the squad with 1034 sets and 33 service aces on the season. Kreklow has earned SEC Player of the Week honors twice this season, while Henning and freshman Carly Kan have been awarded it once. Kan, who has 261 kills and 206 digs on the season, has also been named the SEC Freshman of the Week once.

Kentucky has won all three meetings in the series, including a 3-0 sweep last season in Columbia. The other two contests, both at neutral sites, occurred in 1984 with a 3-2 win and in 2004, a 3-0 sweep.

The Wildcats lost both contests against Arkansas last year, starting with a loss Oct. 19 in Lexington. UK dropped a 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-20) decision, which snapped a 10-match winning streak against the Razorbacks. Alexandra Morgan led all Wildcats with 11 kills on a squad-best .400 hitting percentage. It marked the sixth time in 2012 the junior had topped the 10-kill plateau. Whitney Billings and Ashley Frazier both contributed nine kills on the night.

On Nov. 11, Arkansas staged a come-from-behind win to down Kentucky 3-2 (22-25, 16-25, 25-19, 25-20, 15-10) in Barnhill Arena. UK earned a 2-0 lead in the match and then saw the Razorbacks take the final three frames for the win to sweep the season series.

On Nov. 21, 2012, in the season’s only meeting between UK and MU, Kentucky logged 48 kills, eight service aces, 56 digs and five blocks in a dominating 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-14) victory at Missouri. UK’s serving resulted in eight service aces. Christine Hartmann directed the offense to the tune of 34 assists to accompany 11 digs for her second-consecutive double-double effort. Hartmann found five attackers for six or more kills on the night and registered five hammers of her own.

Kentucky posted a 3-0 victory over Mississippi State and a 3-1 triumph against Alabama last weekend in Lexington.

UK used a strong offensive effort from senior Whitney Billings and freshman Anni Thomasson to sweep Mississippi State 3-0 (25-13, 26-24, 25-21) and improved to 42-2 all-time against the Bulldogs. UK’s first-set win was one of its biggest of the season, and the Wildcats dominated in nearly every statistical category. The second frame saw Kentucky down 24-22, but it staved off set point to score the final four points to earn the win. The final set was close, but after they trailed briefly early at 2-1, the Wildcats maintained the lead.

A comeback victory in the fourth set capped by two of Kentucky’s season-high 15 blocks propelled the Wildcats to a 3-1 (25-17, 25-23, 18-25, 25-20) victory over Alabama Sunday. Three players registered six or more block assists in the victory including a career-high eight from senior Whitney Billings. Sophomore Sara Schwarzwalder matched her with eight, and senior Alexandra Morgan totaled six. The Wildcats were down 16-15 in the fourth set to the Crimson Tide before coming back to score the next three points and four of the final five points to seal the win.

UP NEXT: vs. south carolina & lsu
The Wildcats return home next weekend for matches with South Carolina and LSU. UK hosts the Gamecocks Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. before welcoming the Tigers to Lexington Nov. 10 at 1 p.m., a match which will air live on the UK IMG Network, including locally on CWKYT and on Fox Sports South.

Kentucky owns a 29-18 record against South Carolina and a 32-23 all-time mark against LSU. UK downed USC 3-0 Oct. 13 Last season, the Wildcats split the series with the Tigers. UK lost 3-2 in Baton Rouge before a 3-0 win in Lexington.

Through 20 matches, the Wildcats have been involved in 13 three-set matches. UK has posted a 10-3 record in 3-0 contests, including a 4-1 mark in Southeastern Conference action.

The 10 sweeps by the Wildcats on the season was fueled by a seven-match winning streak, where UK posted five 3-0 wins. The winning streak included a run in which Kentucky recorded victories in 19 of 20 sets. After claiming the fifth set in UK’s upset win over No. 4 Minnesota, only Alabama was able to win a set against the Wildcats.

In UK’s other seven matches this season that went longer than three sets, Kentucky has played two four-set contests and five matches that have gone the distance.

The habit of making quick work is nothing new for the Wildcats, who notched a 12-4 record in three-set contests last season.

In SEC play, the Wildcats lead the conference with an average of 2.92 blocks per set. In conference play, senior Alexandra Morgan ranks third in the league, averaging 1.32 blocks per set, while sophomore Sara Schwarzwalder is fifth with a 1.23 average. No other team has two players in the top five.

On the year, the Wildcats have totaled 184 blocks, for a 2.56 blocks per set rate. Morgan’s 1.12 blocks per set average and 75 blocks on the year are both team highs.

As a team, UK has out-blocked its opponent 11 times, with wins in all 11 contests and seven victories in SEC play. The Wildcats are 4-5 in matches where they have notched equal or fewer blocks then their opponent. Kentucky has 169.5 blocks on the season, while it has held the opposition to 153.5.

On Oct. 27, a season-high 15 blocks propelled the Wildcats to a 3-1 win over Alabama. Three players registered six or more block assists in the victory including a career-high eight from senior Whitney Billings. Sophomore Sara Schwarzwalder matched her with eight, and senior Alexandra Morgan totaled six. Kentucky out-blocked the Crimson Tide 5-0 in both the first and fourth sets.

UK has been honored with weekly honors four times by the SEC this season. Senior Whitney Billings was named the SEC Player of the Week on Sept. 16 and 29, while Alexandra Morgan earned Defensive Player of the Week accolades on Sept. 29 and Anni Thomasson garnered the Freshman of the Week award on Sept. 16.

Senior Whitney Billings made history against Louisville with her sixth dig of the match. After she reached the 1,000 kill plateau on Aug. 31, she eclipsed the 1,000 dig mark Sept. 10. The outside hitter became the first Wildcat in the modern era of Kentucky volleyball to achieve the 1,000 kills and digs mark in her career.

With 1,251 kills and 1,130 digs in her career going into the weekend, she is the sixth member of the 1,000 kills and digs club at UK. The previous five all met the mark before the 25-point rally scoring system was introduced in 2008.

Billings notched double-doubles in the first four matches to open the year. The Helena, Ala. native has posted nine double-double performances this season and 39 in her career.

195 Career Wins and Counting
Ninth-year head coach Craig Skinner is the school’s second all-time winningest coach with 195 career victories entering Friday’s match. Kathy DeBoer tallied 209 in nine seasons at the helm from 1984-92. In the Craig Skinner era, the Blue and White have amassed 17 or more victories in all eight seasons, and have captured 20 or more wins in five of the last six years.

Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 13-14. UK is one of four sites selected for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in Seattle, Wash., from the Lexington Region. This marks the second time in three seasons Memorial Coliseum will host this premier volleyball event. Tickets for the event are available now at