Rapp Leads UK to Tournament Victory
Sept. 13, 2008
LEXINGTON, Ky. -
Three University of Kentucky players recorded double-doubles and the Wildcat defense recorded a season-high 18 blocks en route to claiming the UK Invitational title with a four-set victory over Albany Saturday night. Kentucky claimed the match with 25-20, 25-19, 23-25, 25-22 set wins for its sixth consecutive win.
Sophomore Lauren Rapp was tabbed the most valuable player of the tournament leading the Cats with 14 kills, 10 digs and three blocks on the night--good for a team-high 16.5 points. Rapp was one of three UK players to tally double-doubles as sophomore Sarah Mendoza and junior Sarah Rumely also achieved the feat. Mendoza put down 11 kills and scooped up a career-best 13 digs. Rumely dished out 42 assists while contributing 12 digs on the night. Junior BriAnne Sauer was one shy of a career-high with 28 digs on the night.
"Albany is a really good team," said Kentucky coach Craig Skinner. "They are a very well coached team that plays great defense. To come in here in the second match of the day, it really becomes more of a mental game than a physical game."
Kentucky opened the first set with a fast start taking the first point of the night on a freshman Becky Pavan kill. The score was tied at 10 before UK stretched its lead to 17-13, on a kill from Rapp. Albany kept the score within two points until the Wildcats took a five-point edge at 23-18, on a Great Dane miscue. Albany's errors closed the set for the Blue and White with a 25-20 score. Rapp, Mendoza, freshman Ann Armes and Pavan all recorded three kills in the frame. UK earned eight of its points on blocks in the stanza to set the defensive tone early.
The Wildcats opened the second set by taking a 10-7 lead off a kill from Rumely. Albany would fire back with seven of the next nine points to take a 13-12 advantage. The two teams traded points back and forth until UK broke away with a four point edge at 20-16 with Rapp serving. Armes and Mendoza tallied kills to end the set with the score at 25-19 and giving Kentucky a 2-0 lead headed into the break. Rapp paced the offense with six of her kills in the set on .750 hitting.
Albany used a .273 hitting percentage and 14 kills in the third set to force a fourth frame with a 25-23 win. With the Great Danes leading 24-21, the Wildcats saved set point twice on a kill by Pavan and sophomore Blaire Hiler. Albany finally claimed the set on a kill from Kalyn Mostert.
"We were a little inconsistent in the third set," Skinner said. "We need to get to where we are competing during every point like it's the last point of the set."
The visitors jumped out to a 3-0 advantage before UK rattled off the next three points in the third frame. The score stayed close, as neither team really took control staying within two points of each other until the score was tied at 22. The Great Danes had an attacking error followed by a Rapp kill to give UK match point. The match ended on a block by Rapp and Pavan, defining the match for the Wildcats. Senior Queen Nzenwa led the UK offense in the fourth set with five kills on .417 hitting.
"Blocking is one of the things we excel at," Skinner said. "I think it is something we are identified by, and we will continue to work on everyday at practice."
The Wildcats will return to action Friday, Sept. 19th when they open Southeastern Conference action against Alabama. UK welcomes the Crimson Tide to Memorial Coliseum with first serve slated for 7 p.m. Live stats and complete coverage of the match can be found at UKathletics.com