UK Claims Kentucky Classic Behind 3-1 win over Long Beach
Aug. 25, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Led by sophomore Lauren O'Connerthe 13th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team claimed the Kentucky Classic following a 3-1 (19-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-19) win over Long Beach State on Saturday evening capping off a flawless weekend to start the 2012 season.
O'Conner was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament after posting double-figure kill efforts in all three of UK's victories including a season-best 16 in the tournament-clinching match. She led the team with 3.25 kills per set while also adding 10 blocks for the weekend.
Senior setter Christine Hartmann and junior Alexandra Morganjoined O'Conner on the All-Tournament team. Hartmann notched 10.4 assists per set while ranking second on the squad with 13 blocks for a 1.08 average. Morgan was stellar as well with 25 kills on a team-best .388 hitting percentage. She also topped the team with 16 blocks for a staggering 1.33 blocks per frame average.
"We want to be better defensively early and try and catch up offensively," UK coach Craig Skinnersaid. "If we can serve and block like that in matches we've got a great chance to win. Long Beach is a very good team and they'll win a lot of matches this year; and I appreciate them coming across the country to play us."
The Wildcats (3-0) will now hit the road for seven consecutive matches to close out the non-conference schedule. Up first for the Blue and White is the annual showdown with instate rival Louisville on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. UK will travel west on I-64 and take the floor at the site of the 2012 Final Four inside the KFC Yum! Center.
O'Conner led all scorers with 16 kills and a pair of solo blocks. Junior Whitney Billings notched her second-consecutive double-double effort with 13 kills and 10 digs. Senior Ashley Frazier was the third Wildcat to reach double-figures in the kills' column with 13 kills while adding four rejections. Hartmann dished out 44 assists and led the team with six blocks in the win. Morgan chipped in with nine kills and four blocks. Freshman Sara Schwarzwalderadded five hammers and a trio of roofs.
After the 49ers captured the opening set by a 25-19 margin, it was all Kentucky from there as the Blue and White totaled 25-18, 25-20 and 25-19 set wins to claim the tournament.
Morgan sparked the comeback effort to knot the score into the locker room with five kills on a blazing .833 hitting percentage in the second stanza. UK totaled 15 kills in the frame while limiting the visitors to 10 on .114 hitting.
Frazier and O'Conner formed a dynamic duo combing for 11 kills in the third frame to give the Wildcats the lead. Hartmann dished out 11 assists leading UK to a total of 16 kills in the set. Kentucky also tallied four blocks in the stanza including two solo rejections from Frazier to rally the Blue and White to the win.
"It's good to see (Frazier and O'Conner's performance in the third set)," Skinner said. "Against great teams you need outside hitters to terminate the ball. It's another thing we've worked on a lot in preseason and it paid off. It took us a while to get it going, but they did a great job. They didn't get flustered by errors and made changes and got kills in the end."
UK teamed up for 4.5 blocks and rattled Long Beach State into a negative .027 hitting clip in the final frame to cap the match. O'Conner posted five kills to aid the offensive effort in a 25-19 win.
Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the UK volleyball team.
Kentucky Classic All-Tournament Team