No. 10 Wildcats Face Tennessee in Season Finale

Nov. 24, 2009

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 10th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team is set to wrap up its regular season with a date at Tennessee in Knoxville on Wednesday night. Match time is set for a 7 p.m. ET start.

A win over the Lady Vols would enable the Wildcats (27-3, 17-2) to capture its first SEC Championship since 1988. A Kentucky win would clinch a share of the SEC title with LSU, but Kentucky holds the tie-break over the Tigers and would earn the SEC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. UK has already clinched the SEC Eastern Division title.

Sophomore Becky Pavan had a break-out performance against the Gators with a career-high 17 kill performance. Junior Lauren Rapp added 15 hammers for back-to-back matches with 10 or more kills after pacing the team with 12 in a win over South Carolina.

UK's offense has continued to thrive as the Blue and White lead the conference with a .286 hitting percentage which also ranks seventh nationally. However, it is the number of options senior setter Sarah Rumely has in her distribution of the ball which is the key to the offensive success. The Wildcats lead the conference and are fifth nationally with an average of 14.81 kills per frame. Six Kentucky players average over 2.10 kills per stanza and Rumely dishes out an average of 11.88 assists per set.

Kentucky's defensive prowess is also notable as the Blue and White rank third in the conference with an average 15.45 digs per set led by BriAnne Sauer's 4.64 scoops per set. Kentucky's blocking has improved in the last few matches as the squad now turns back and average of 2.40 attempts a set. Gretchen Giesler has exploded defensively for UK as she has shot up the charts with an average of 1.12 blocks per stanza.

Tennessee was the first SEC opponent to hand UK a loss when the Lady Vols took a 3-1 meeting in Lexington on Oct. 21. A season ago the two squads split their meetings with both visiting teams capturing a win.

Sauer's career-best 35 dig performance was not enough to help the then seventh-ranked Kentucky volleyball team overcome Tennessee in a 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22) loss. For just the second time this season the UK offense was held under a .200 hitting clip. Tennessee limited the SEC's best offensive team to just a .184 hitting percentage for the match and forced 29 UK hitting errors. Sauer's defensive play enabled the Wildcats to stay in every set, with Tennessee only winning the match by seven total points.

Tennessee enters the final SEC match of the season with a 22-7 overall record and a 15-4 SEC record. The Volunteers are receiving votes in the latest AVCA poll and are essentially the second team out of the poll or the equivalent of 27th in the country. The Lady Vols had an impressive 3-1 victory over Florida a week ago at home for its first win over the Gators since 2005. Tennessee is led by Nikki Fowler the reigning three-time SEC Player of the Week. Fowler paces the offense with 3.80 kills per set while adding nearly a block per frame as well.

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