Volleyball Cats Open SEC Road Schedule with 3-0 Loss to No. 9 Florida
Sept. 28, 2001
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The University of Kentucky volleyball team lost its Southeastern Conference road opener to the ninth-ranked Florida Gators, 3-0, on Friday, Sept. 28, in Gainesville, Fla.
Florida (6-1, 2-0 SEC) won the 31st meeting between the two squads, extending it series lead to 24-7. The Gators relied heavily on the talents of sophomore Aury Cruz, who tallied a double-double with 13 kills and 13 digs, while leading the serving attack with seven aces.
Kentucky (5-5, 1-2 SEC) kept things close during the first game but was overpowered by the defending SEC Champion Gators down the stretch. The Gators recorded 14 service aces to UK's two, dominating the match. Florida held Kentucky to a .074 team hitting percentage, while posting a .295 on the night.
Leading the way for UK was freshman Sarah Spinner. Spinner, who returned to her home state of Florida for the first time in her UK career, tallied 8 kills in 15 total attacks for a .333 hitting percentage.
The Gators took a quick 8-3 lead in the third game, before the Cats cut it to one at 18-17 after several strong kills, including two by senior April Barnhorst. UF managed another two-point deficit before a block assist by freshman Sarah Spinner and Sissy Canfield closed the Cats in at 20-19, forcing a Gator timeout. Coming out of the timeout, a strong kill by Canfield tied the game at 20. Kentucky then took the lead on a Kristen Batt kill just inside the perimeter.
Florida regained the lead, but the Cats wouldn't give up, tying it again at 24. Florida took the next three points, forcing a UK timeout. Kentucky managed to grab two more points, but the Gators took the game, 30-27. Spinner's three kills led UK, while four other Cats grabbed multiple kills.
The Gators dominated the second game, breaking out to a 16-5 lead after five service aces and forcing a Kentucky timeout. The Cats stayed in the game, and cut the lead to seven after Barnhorst blocked a ball at the net and added a kill to one by Spinner. UK would get no closer, however, as Florida took the game, 30-19.
Heading into game three at a 2-0 disadvantage, Kentucky needed answers to the Florida service game. The Gators stayed on top of their game, serving up four aces early on to take an 11-6 lead. UF turned its attention to attacking and built its lead to eight, 14-6, causing the Cats to take a break. While Kentucky found several positives in the game, UF overpowered the Wildcats, taking the game and the match with the 30-17 win.
"Our goal coming into this game was to stick to our game plan, believe in ourselves and compete with a very tough team," Coach Jona Braden said. "We definitely did that in game one. We didn't take care of some jump servers for Florida in game two, and we seemed to fade in game three.
"Florida is a great team," Braden continued. "They will only get better. We played well with them in the beginning, but mental lapses cost us down the stretch."
It was the first home match in four weeks for the Gators, who were coming off a 3-0 sweep of Texas last Tuesday. Florida claimed its first SEC victory on Sept. 21 over No. 19 South Carolina in Columbia, 3-2.
The Cats return to action on Sunday, Sept. 30, when they travel to Athens, Ga., to take on the Georgia Bulldogs. Action gets underway at 2 p.m. at Ramsey Coliseum.
Game One - UF 30, UK 27
Game Two - UF 30, UK 19
Game Three - UF 30, UK 17