Kentucky Volleyball Drops SEC Opener, 3-1, to Arkansas
Sept. 26, 2003
FAYETTEV ILLE, Ark. - The University of Kentucky volleyball team fell to Arkansas, 3-1, in its Southeastern Conference opener on Friday, Sept. 26 at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville, Ark. The Cats recovered from a first-game loss to even the match at halftime, but couldn't pull the upset of the reigning Western Division champions.
Melissa Popp and Sarah Spinner were excellent for Kentucky at the outside positions, pulling in 17 and 18 kills, respectively. Julie Davis continued to excel in her starting role as well, collecting six blocks and five kills. Danielle Wallace got some good looks off the bench, finishing with seven kills on .385 hitting.
Overall, UK (8-5, 0-1 SEC) hit just .156 to Arkansas' .200. The Hogs (9-4, 2-0 SEC) found two players with double-figure kills as well as Sara Kincaid had 17 and Denitza Koleva recorded 12.
The Wildcats started slow in the opening game, allowing the Hogs to rush toward an 11-4 lead before calling a timeout. Another 12-5 run by UA pushed the deficit to 14 at 23-9. UK perked up late and managed to whittle the margin to six at 29-23, but despite the run, a service error cost the Cats the game. Popp and Spinner each registered four kills in the game, while McCaslin had a game-high six digs.
Kentucky built upon the momentum to start the second game, doubling the Razorbacks' score several times early. With the Cats leading 12-6, Arkansas seemed to be closing the gap after three straight points. But UK reverted to its scrappy style of play and regained a six-point edge.
The Hogs came calling again and cut the lead to two at 16-14, causing Jona Braden to shuffle her lineup. Kentucky remained in control despite the pressure and advanced to a 21-15 tilt, forcing a Razorback timeout. UK remained in control down the stretch and used strong defensive play from Kirby Newhouse to close out the 30-25 game victory, knotting the match at halftime.
Arkansas returned with a vengeance in the third game, rattling off three in a row before building to a 8-2 lead. However, the Cats wouldn't be counted out and evened the tally at 10 with solid play by Julie Davis. Kentucky burned a timeout with the Hogs leading 15-12, but had to call another when a 7-3 UA run put them back seven points.
The Wildcats rallied from there, using solid defense and smart play to cut the advantage to one at 28-27. A Sara Kincaid kill deep in the court and a missed block by the Cats let the Hogs take the third game by a score of 30-27. Spinner paced the Cats in the game with seven kills.
The fourth game remained close until an 8-4 Arkansas run put Kentucky behind by six at 16-10, resulting in a trip to the bench. The Cats couldn't quite pull it together late in the game, and tried one last timeout down 25-15. UK again made a late run at the Hogs, cutting the lead to eight at 28-20. After a Razorback timeout, two Kentucky errors handed the game and match to the home team, 30-20.
The Wildcats move to 15-8 all-time in SEC openers. The Cats have not won a league debut since a 2000 victory over Mississippi State.
Kentucky continues the road swing on Sunday, Sept. 28, when the team travels on to Baton Rouge, La., to face LSU in a 1:30 p.m. CT battle. The Tigers were swept, 3-0, by South Carolina in Baton Rouge Friday night.