Volleyball Falls in Opening Night of Radisson Invitational
Sept. 7, 2001
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The University of Kentucky volleyball team dropped its opening match in the Radisson Invitational to host Western Michigan, 3-1, on Friday, Sept. 7 in Kalamazoo, Mich., before a crowd of 865 fans.
The Cats (2-3, 0-0 Southeastern Conference) were led by junior Kristen Batt, who tallied 16 kills and notched a .324 hitting percentage. Sophomore Carman Malone, who tallied 20 kills on the night, led Western Michigan, who defeated Valparaiso in the tournament opener earlier in the day.
Kentucky got off to a slow start, falling behind 9-1 in the first game but managed to pull within six before the Broncos took the first game, 30-20. UK was paced in the opener by Batt and freshman Sarah Spinner who each recorded four kills. The Cats hit .189 in the first game to WMU's .314.
Western Michigan jumped out to another early lead over the Wildcats in game two before UK came alive, cutting the score to 14-12 and forcing a Bronco timeout. After tying the score at 19 with a service ace by senior April Barnhorst, Kentucky looked strong down the stretch, building to a 28-25 lead before Spinner delivered back-to-back service aces, handing UK the 30-25 decision. Batt added four more kills in game two, while Barnhorst added four digs.
The Wildcats returned from the break recharged, taking an early 4-1 lead before WMU fought back to tie it at four. The Broncos then went on a 6-0 run to take the 10-4 lead. The Cats wouldn't be counted out, however, as several scrappy plays kept them in the hunt down the stretch. Western Michigan remained poised, taking the game, 30-21, and gaining a 2-1 advantage in the match.
Game four remained close at the start before WMU went on a run, pulling out to a 17-10 lead. The Wildcats answered with a 3-0 run to cut the lead to four, but a Bronco timeout gave WMU a chance to regroup. UK didn't quit, fighting back to pull within four three more times down the stretch. A Malone kill gave WMU the game and match.
"This was a great atmosphere to play in," Coach Jona Braden said. "Western is a great program with incredible tradition. For us to step out against such a strong team and do a 180 from how we played on Tuesday (against Western Kentucky) was really strong.
"We got in some holes, but came together and fought hard," Braden continued. "We fought hard, and hopefully brought back some of the fire that we had at SMU last weekend."
The Wildcats return to action on Saturday, Sept. 8, when they face James Madison at 12:30 p.m. before concluding play in the tournament against Valparaiso at 5 p.m.
Game One - WMU 30, UK 20
Game Two - UK 30, WMU 25
Game Three - WMU 30, UK 21
Game Four - WMU 30, UK 24