Impressive Offensive Start Paces UK Past Albany
Aug. 26, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - For the sixth time in seven seasons under the direction of Craig Skinner the Kentucky volleyball team will begin the season with a victory. An impressive offensive display helped propel the Wildcats past Albany in a 3-1 (25-21, 23-25, 25-23, 25-16) win in the opening match of the season Friday morning in Tallahassee, Fla., at the Florida State Invitational. Kentucky returns to action playing the host Seminoles later this evening with first serve set for 7 p.m. ET.
"Offensively it was a good start for us," Skinner said. "We need to do a much better job defensively, especially in transition. I'm happy to get a win in the first match of the year, and now we know the things we need to execute better to get to the next level."
The Wildcats posted 14 or more kills in all four sets of play this afternoon with sophomore setter Elizabeth Koberstein dishing out a career-high 53 assists and leading UK to a .354 hitting clip in the match. Seven Wildcats struck for five or more kills led by a match-high 18 from senior Becky Pavan. Pavan torched the Great Danes with a .516 hitting clip while committing just two errors.
Junior Ashley Frazier was the other Wildcat player in double-figures with 14 kills in her debut with the Blue and White. Senior Gretchen Giesler added nine, while sophomore Whitney Billings and senior Ann Armes each struck for five.
Freshman outside hitter Lauren O'Conner had a great start to her collegiate career with seven kills. Koberstein was the other UK player with five or more kills as she added to her own cause with seven kills of her own.
Junior libero Stephanie Klefot paced the back line defensive effort with a match-high 21 digs. Freshman Jackie Napper posted 14 in her debut to help lead a defense that earned 67 scoops in the match. Pavan paced the front line with three blocks.
The Wildcats opened the 2011 season with a dominant offensive performance powered by 18 kills on a sizzling .469 hitting percentage. Seven different Kentucky players recorded two or more kills in the opening stanza led by four from Pavan. Koberstein dished out 14 assists to lead the Wildcat attack.
Pavan began the scoring in the 2011 campaign with a kill from the right side. From there the two squads engaged in a back-and-forth battle with neither team stretching a lead of more than two points at a time. UK's offensive firepower led the way with the Blue and White scoring nine of its first 10 points off of kills.
Kentucky earned a 5-1 run highlighted by a pair of kills from O'Conner to break free at 19-15. Kentucky capped the stanza with a pair of kills from Giesler and Koberstein to capture the opening frame by a 25-21 margin.
UK took a 2-1 lead in the match following a thrilling 25-23 third set victory. The Blue and White totaled 19 kills on .362 hitting in the set, but the winning point came on a block by the duo of Frazier and Giesler.
For the second time in the match the Blue and White scored nine of its first 10 points on kills. In a back-and-forth battle, neither team captured more than a two-point advantage. With UK trailing, 22-21 Pavan scored consecutive kills to lift the Wildcats to a 23-22 score. Following an Albany timeout, the Great Danes evened the score with a kill before O'Conner slammed down a kill into the middle to lift UK to set point. With the squads rallying, Giesler and Frazier stepped up for a set-clinching block in the center of the net for the win.
The Blue and White jumped out a 3-1 lead and never looked back in the fourth frame. Kentucky recorded 14 kills in the set on .294 hitting. Pavan closed the set with a pair of kills to aid the Wildcat cause to close out the match with an impressive 25-16 win.
Albany evened the match with a 25-23 second set win despite a late charge by the Blue and White. Kentucky charted 14 kills on a .290 hitting clip.
The Great Danes earned an early 3-0 lead in the stanza, and UK eventually tied the score up at six behind three straight kills from Giesler, Frazier and Armes. The teams swapped points before Albany once again earned a commanding advantage at 13-9.
Albany maintained an edge all the way until earning set point at 24-19 before Kentucky's late-charge pushed the score to 24-23. Koberstein led the way with a kill and a pair of aces. She also set up Pavan for a smashing slam to the middle of the floor to force Albany into a timeout. A crafty kill just over the outstretched arms of a Wildcat block lifted the designated visitors to the 25-23 set win.
Kentucky's Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 9-10. UK is one of four sites selected for Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas, from the Lexington Region. Tickets are on sale now through the UK Ticket Office.
Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the UK volleyball team and all of Kentucky's 22 teams.