Aug. 27, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Sophomore setter Elizabeth Koberstein dished out 70 assists, while seniors Becky Pavan and Gretchen Giesler had career-high kill outputs in a dramatic 3-2 win (22-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 15-13) over No. 23 Tulsa Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla. Koberstein becomes the first UK player to pass out 70 assists in a match since Sarah Rumely in 2006. Pavan had a match-high and career-best 19 kills, with Giesler also matching a career-high with 16 hammers in the victory.
"That was a positive step forward for us," UK coach Craig Skinner said. "We responded from a poor outing last night and we got a win against a very good Tulsa team who is going to get a lot of victories this year. Our middles had a fantastic day and a fantastic tournament overall."
With the win Kentucky improves to 2-1 on the season and Tulsa drops to 1-1 on the year. UK will return to action with a home match against Cincinnati, Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.
Junior Ashley Frazier began the decisive fifth frame with a kill to give the Wildcats the early edge. Tulsa then responded with consecutive points to take the lead, but Kentucky fired back to score the next seven points and earn a commanding 8-2 advantage.
Back-to-back kills from Frazier and senior Ann Armes lifted the Wildcats to a 10-4 lead and forced Tulsa to use its final timeout. Kentucky earned match point at 14-6 following a block from the tandem of Giesler and sophomore Whitney Billings. Tulsa would then put together the largest run of the match to pull to within 14-13, but Giesler fired home with a rifling shot into the center of the court for the match winner.
Koberstein directed UK's offense to 76 kills on .308 hitting. Four players totaled 10 or more kills in the match led by 19 from Pavan. Giesler had 16 and Frazier followed with 15. Armes was the final player to reach double-figures with 13 kills.
Junior libero Stephanie Klefot led the backline defensive effort that continued to stifle the offensive production of the nation's leader in kills in Tulsa's Tyler Henderson. Klefot posted a match-best 28 digs and freshman Jackie Napper added 13. Billings picked up 13 scoops to become the third player to reach double digits. A trio of players had three blocks in the match for the Blue and White in Giesler, Armes and Pavan.
With their backs against the wall the Wildcats responded in a big way with a 25-20 fourth set victory to force a decisive fifth frame. Kentucky had 16 kills on .324 hitting, led by five from the hand of Frazier.
UK jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but quickly let go of the lead as Tulsa charged ahead by a 7-3 margin. Kentucky did not falter, however, as the Blue and White responded with a 5-1 run to tie the score at eight highlighted by a pair of kills from Giesler.
Tulsa once again broke free for a three-point edge, but Kentucky's four consecutive points in the middle of the stanza pushed the designated home team ahead at 16-14. UK had two kills from Giesler, a hammer from O'Conner capped off by an ace by Pavan in the run. The spurt was enough for the Wildcats, as the Blue and White finished the set behind three more kills from Frazier.
Kentucky earned a 4-3 advantage following an ace by Billings to take control of the second set and earned a lead it would never relinquish. The Blue and White surged ahead 15-11 after the tandem of Frazier and Armes scorched the Tulsa defense for consecutive kills. Tula pulled back to within two at 18-16, but the Wildcats led by the inspired play from Billings responded when the sophomore from Helena, Ala., smashed a kill for the final run. UK would allow just two more points scored by the Golden Hurricane, ending on a 6-2 run to cap off the set. A kill from the hand of Koberstein was the finishing touch for the designated home team in the frame.
UK put down 15 kills on .355 hitting in the set and Koberstein passed out 14 assists to lead the way. Billings had a pair of kills and three digs in the set to lead the charge. Pavan once again led the scoring with five kills and an ace in the set. Kentucky's defense limited Tulsa to 11 kills on .258 hitting and constantly frustrated the Golden Hurricane attack.
In an ultra-competitive opening set, Tulsa outlasted Kentucky 25-22 to claim the first frame. The squads exchanged points for much of the opening set. Kentucky rode the right-arm of Pavan who had seven of Kentucky's opening 12 kills in the set. The senior also laced an ace along the right line to aid her excellent start. The Golden Hurricane eventually shook loose to earn a five-point advantage at 22-17, but three straight kills from Giesler propelled the Blue and White back to within two to force Tulsa into a timeout.
Out of the break, Tulsa earned the first point. A pair of late-set kills from Frazier was not enough for UK as the Golden Hurricane outlasted the Wildcats in the late going. Pavan led the way with seven hammers on .778 hitting in the opening set. Koberstein directed the offense to 17 kills on .371 hitting, but Tulsa was able to produce 16 kills on .438 hitting to pull away.
Tulsa captured a 2-1 lead following a 25-21 third set win. The Golden Hurricane benefited from nine Wildcat miscues in the stanza, as UK limited Tulsa to just 13 kills on .270 hitting. Kentucky's high-octane offense produced 17 kills, but it was not enough to overcome its own mistakes.
Kentucky found itself in a hole immediately falling behind 2-0 in the opening portions of the frame. An Armes hammer tied the score at seven, but that was the closest UK would get the rest of the set as Tulsa was able to fend off any charge by the Wildcat offense.
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.
Elizabeth Koberstein became the first UK player since Sarah Rumely in 2006 to have 70 assists in a match.
UK had four players reach double-figures in kills marking the first time UK has achieved that feat since a victory over then No. 15 LSU in November of 2010.
Senior Becky Pavan matched a career-high with 19 kills.
Senior Gretchen Giesler also matched a career-best with 16 hammers of her own.
Junior Ashley Frazier posted 15 hammers, the most in a match in her UK career.
Junior Stephanie Klefot totaled a match-high 28 digs and has now posted 20 or more scoops twice this season and 14 times in her career.
Freshman Jackie Napper has earned 10 or more digs in two of UK's three matches this season, including 13 in the win over Tulsa.
Freshman Lauren O'Conner earned the first start of her career.
UK used the starting lineup of Elizabeth Koberstein, Gretchen Giesler, Ann Armes, Stephanie Klefot, O'Conner, Jackie Napper and Becky Pavan for the first time this season.
Pavan had 10 of UK's first 20 kills in the match.