Klefot's Milestone Leads UK to 3-1 Win over Houston
Sept. 9, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Junior libero Stephanie Klefottopped 1,000 career digs behind 24 in a 3-1 (28-26, 15-25, 25-20, 25-17) Kentucky victory over Houston, Friday night in Memorial Coliseum. With the win Kentucky has now strung together five consecutive victories on its home floor.
Klefot becomes the 10th player in school history to post 1,000 or more career digs after surpassing 20 for the 16th time in her career in the win. She has totaled 10 or more in all nine matches this season.
"One-thousand digs is an awful lot," UK coach Craig Skinnersaid. "She roams the back row back there awfully well and she has a lot of respect from our opponents. She's a giver. She gives a lot to this team, not only with her performance on the court, but also emotionally. She's very valuable to this program."
With the win, Kentucky improves to 7-2 on the season while Houston falls to 5-3.
Kentucky had three players record 10 or more kills as junior setter Christine Hartmann dished out a season-high 47 assists. Senior Gretchen Giesler led the squad with 12 kills with junior Ashley Frazier and sophomore Whitney Billingsboth adding 10 on the night. Billings has now struck for 10 or more in a match on three straight occasions.
"It's nice to win a variety of ways, but it would also be nice to be consistent at times," Skinner said. "This team is capable of a lot of things on the court both offensively and defensively."
Once again it was UK's defensive prowess that led the charge as the Blue and White notched 10 blocks and combined for 61 digs. Giesler paved the way at the net with six rejections, while Klefot paced the back line with the match-high 24 scoops. Sophomore Jessi Greenbergcontributed with a career-high 11 digs in the match. It marked the first time in her career she has totaled 10 or more digs in a match.
"We definitely finished strong tonight and Houston is a very good team," Skinner "They've won some matches already this year and they're going to win a lot throughout the season. They're tough to defend. I wasn't extremely pleased with how we came out mentally, but that's something this team is going to have to mature with as we prepare for the matches."
Senior Becky Pavan helped lead a revived effort following the beak with eight kills and a trio of blocks. Freshman Lauren O'Conner continues her outstanding start to her first season with nine kills on .208 hitting and a pair of blocks. Freshman Jackie Napperadded seven digs to the defensive effort.
Kentucky opened the match by claiming the set 28-26. UK has now played five sets that needed more than 25 points to claim a winner. Kentucky has come out victorious on all five occasions.
Frazier began the charge for the Blue and White with five kills in the set, while Klefot posted 11 digs in the opening stanza alone.
A kill from Hartmann gave the Wildcats an early 3-1 edge. Houston would fire back to knot the score at 10 apiece. A pair of blocks from Giesler and company lifted Kentucky to its largest lead at 17-13. Houston continued to fight back and tied the score once again at 21.
The Cougars earned set point at 24-23, but Giesler came up with a set-point-saving hammer. Houston once again had set point, but a kill from Frazier erased the edge. Frazier then lifted Kentucky to set point with her fifth kill of the set, before senior Ann Armesfound a spot in the center of the floor for the set-clinching point.
Houston evened the match with a 25-15 second set victory. UK was held to just seven kills on a negative hitting percentage in the stanza.
The Wildcats roared back in a big way following the break, with a 25-20 third set victory. Four kills from Giesler and three blocks from Pavan ignited the run for the home team.
UK trailed for the majority of the opening portion of the frame, but would go on to tie the score at 12 following a block from the tandem of Giesler and O'Conner. Consecutive kills from Frazier gave the Blue and White a 19-17 edge and UK would not look back, closing the stanza on a 6-3 run. Three straight kills from O'Conner, Giesler and Pavan ended the run to bring the crowd to its feet.
Kentucky's offense fired at will in the final set blitzing Houston for 20 kills on a .548 hitting clip. Billings led the charge with six kills on a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage. Hartmann served up 17 assists in the set.
UK quickly grabbed a 4-1 advantage highlighted by kills from O'Conner, Giesler and Frazier. The home squad stretched its lead to 9-5 following kills from Pavan and Billings. The Cougars pulled to within three at 10-7, but the Blue and White finished the set on a 15-10 run capped off by an ace from Pavan to claim its fifth consecutive victory.
Kentucky will return to action with its final non-conference action Saturday in the conclusion of the UK Invitational. UK takes on Loyola Marymount at 11 a.m. and wraps up play with West Virginia at approximately 7 p.m.
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.
UK Invitational Schedule
Friday, Sept. 9
Saturday, Sept. 10