Wildcats Continue Winning Streak over Morehead State
Sept. 2, 2008
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Despite falling in the second set, the Kentucky volleyball team claimed a 3-1 victory over Morehead State, Tuesday in Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats dominated in the first and final sets and four players reached double figures in kills to improve UK's record to 3-1 on the year.
Coming into tonight's match, the Wildcats had not lost to Morehead State since 1979. The two teams were playing in the 30th match of the series, and the pesky Eagles gave everything they had for the Blue and White. The senior leadership of Queen Nzenwa and a break-out performance by freshman Ann Armes erased any upset as the Wildcats handedly won the first and final sets to stave off the instate visitors.
After splitting the first two sets, Kentucky retained the lead behind sophomores Sarah Mendoza and Lauren Rapp's combined 10 kills and 25-23 third set victory. The two teams stayed close through the early part of the set, but UK would break out with a 12-7 advantage after consecutive kills from Mendoza. Morehead State fought back to tie the score at 14, but Rapp got involved in back-to-back points behind a kill and a block assist with Nzenwa. Nzenwa and Mendoza combined for six of the team's final seven points to claim the set 25-23 and reclaim UK's momentum.
"It's always good to get a win," Kentucky coach Craig Skinner said. "I didn't think we played particularly well, but we tried some different things and tested some lineups. Morehead State played extremely well and fought really hard. I thought the difference though was our dominating first and final sets."
UK played with a renewed vigor in the final set winning 25-11. The team hit at a .375 clip led by Nzenwa's .571 average. The senior led a passionate offensive attack, while the defense was equally impressive holding Morehead State to just five kills the entire set and a -.036 hitting average. Junior BriAnne Sauer paced the defense with six scoops in the frame, while UK's middle blockers combined for five digs of their own. Morehead State hung tough to begin the set, as they came as close as 9-8. But, UK would rattle off a 16-2 run to close out the match.
Rapp led the offense with 15 kills, and Armes set a new-career high with 11 kills in her breakthrough performance. Armes also chipped in with five digs, a block and an ace. Mendoza and Nzenwa were the other Cats in double-figures as they had 12 and 13 kills, respectively. Nzenwa and junior Sarah Rumely led the way in the rejection category putting back six Morehead State attempts. Sauer had 18 digs for the defense, while Rapp just missed out on her second double-double of the season with nine scoops.
Kentucky jumped out in front in the first set behind 15 kills and a .257 attack percentage. Rapp led the way with five in the opening frame. Morehead State took an early 3-0 advantage, but the home squad responded by running off five consecutive points highlighted by two of Rapp's hammers. Morehead State pulled within 13-9, but Kentucky fired back with a kill from Armes, a rejection off the arms of Rumely and Nzenwa, and then freshman Becky Pavan added another kill for three straight Wildcat points. The Blue and White finished the set behind a pair of Rumely attacks and another kill from Armes The set concluded when she laced a beautiful ball down the near side line to give UK the 25-16 first set victory.
Morehead State knotted the score at one set a piece behind a 9-0 run in the middle of the set. Kentucky took an early 11-3 advantage, before Morehead went on a 15-2 run to take a 17-13 lead. The visitors took a 20-15 advantage, when Nzenwa came up with back-to-back kills to pull Kentucky within 20-17. Rapp sent a dribbler over the net for the third straight UK point and the score moved to 20-18. MSU ended the set on three kills and a UK attacking error to claim the set victory.
UK will return to the court when they hit the road for the first time Friday. UK will play in the University of Maryland tournament and face St. John's, Missouri and Maryland in the two-day round-robin tournament. Kentucky faces St. John's for the first match of the tournament at 5 p.m. at the Comcast Pavilion.
Complete coverage of Kentucky volleyball can be found at UKathletics.com.