Volleyball Cats Win Thriller Over Morehead State, 3-2
Oct. 2, 2001
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky volleyball team fought back from a surprising 2-0 deficit to in-state rival Morehead State before rebounding to take the match in five games on Tuesday, Oct. 2 in Memorial Coliseum. The 3-2 final score marked the first time since Oct. 6, 1980 that the Eagles posted more than one game win against the Wildcats.
Kentucky (7-5, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) turned what looked to be a dismal evening into a record night as four Wildcats recorded double-doubles in the match, a season high for UK. Junior Kristen Batt led the UK attack with 26 kills and 21 digs, both season highs, earning her fifth double-double of the season.
Also tallying new career highs in the match were senior Whitney Sample, with 19 digs, and junior reserve Toni Lee, with 12 digs. Sample's 69 assists lifted her to her fourth double-double of the season. Freshman Sarah Spinner, who was virtually shut down in the first two games, rebounded to record 13 kills and 13 digs for her fifth double dip of her career. Senior April Barnhorst churned out her third double-double of the season with a season-high 16 kills and 13 digs.
UK jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in the opening game, but Morehead State (11-5, 2-2 Ohio Valley Conference) charged back, tying it up at 24 before taking the game, 30-27. Game two was all MSU from the start, as the Eagles took a commanding 18-5 lead before UK mounted a comeback. The Cats managed to tie things up at 29, but Morehead squeaked past the Cats, grabbing the 33-31 decision.
Morehead State continued to dominate play at the beginning of game three, building a 4-2 lead before UK charged back to tie the match at five. The teams played fairly even for a while before UK built a seven-point lead at 20-13. MSU worked its magic again, tying things up at 29, but UK grabbed the next two points and its first game win, 31-29.
Game four was all Kentucky as the Cats fought through early ties and built its margin down the stretch. The Eagles were unable to find their rhythm, and key kills by Batt and Barnhorst helped UK seal the tying game-win, 30-14.
Game five was all Blue as the Wildcats built a strong 7-2 lead on the play of Batt, Barnhorst and a more accurate Spinner. MSU didn't back down, however, cutting the Cats' lead to four at 13-9, but two strong kills by Batt sealed the UK comeback win, 15-9.
It was the first time this season that UK won a match while hitting below .200. Kentucky's .170 came after a dismal .074 performance in game two. Game four found UK hitting a match-high .359, while UK held the Eagles to a -0.022 percentage in the tying game. The match also marked the first time since 1994 that Morehead had managed to steal a game-win away from the Wildcats.
"I'm very pleased with how we handled the pressure tonight," Coach Jona Braden said. "Morehead capitalized on all the things we knew they would. I commend Morehead for an incredible performance. It's hard to be up two games and lose.
"This was an incredible opportunity for us," Braden continued. "The team had an excellent chance to get out there and fight hard for a win. They found their rhythm and really put forth a collective effort."
The Cats return to SEC action on Friday, Oct. 5, when they play host to No. 17 South Carolina at Memorial Coliseum at 7 p.m.
Game One - MSU 30, UK 27
Game Two - MSU 33, UK 31
Game Three - UK 31, MSU 29
Game Four - UK 30, MSU 14
Game Five - UK 15, MSU 9