Rapp's Offensive Explosion Gives #23 Cats Win
Oct. 19, 2008
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sophomore Lauren Rapp's career-high 21 kills lifted No. 23 Kentucky to a come-from-behind win over Ole Miss, 3-2, Sunday at Memorial Coliseum. Rapp exploded offensively for the Wildcats with the team's first 20-kill performance of the season to help UK stay perfect against the SEC West this season. UK claimed the victory by the scores of 25-14, 27-29, 19-25, 25-16, 15-12.
Kentucky (18-3, 9-1) fell behind 2-1 after Ole Miss (8-10, 4-5) stole consecutive sets in the middle of the match. But, behind Rapp and a career-high 19 kills from sophomore Sarah Mendoza UK captured the final two sets to clinch the win at home.
"Our goal coming into the match today was to get Lauren Rapp move involved offensively," head coach Craig Skinner said. "She really is one of the best right side blockers in the country, and she proved that both offensively and defensively today."
Not only was Rapp the power behind the offense, the Indianapolis native set a career-high with 16 digs and led the team with five blocks. She tallied seven kills in both the second and third sets on her way to the career-high 21 hammers. Rapp accounted for a team-high 25.5 points as well.
Other notable performances by the Wildcats today were a career-high 14 digs from sophomore Laura Stokowski. Junior Sarah Rumely notched season-highs with 57 assists and three service aces. Sophomore Blaire Hiler tallied a season-high 11 kills for her first double-digit kill performance of the season. Rumely, Mendoza and Rapp all earned double-double efforts for the match. Mendoza now has three-straight double-double performances.
Momentum shifted instantaneously to the Blue and White as they opened the match-saving fourth set with an early 4-0 run. Rapp began the run with a kill, followed by a pair from Hiler and one from senior Queen Nzenwa who provided a major spark in the fourth frame. Ole Miss pulled within 11-10, but that's all the closer they would get. UK finished out the set on a 14-6 run to force the fifth and deciding set. UK tallied 18 kills in the stanza, behind five from Nzenwa. Mendoza and Hiler each had four, while Rapp chipped in with three. Rumely dished out 14 assists in the set and the Wildcats hit for a match-high .273.
"We've shown a lot of heart this season, and the fourth set was no different," Skinner said. "We continue to sustain a high level of play--but, Queen (Nzenwa) provided a spark along with Mendoza's defensive effort and Rapp continuing on her great day. Rumely found the open attackers and we just made plays when we had to."
The Kentucky crowd may have gotten a little worried as they watched their Cats fall to a 4-1 deficit to open the fifth set. A pair of huge runs lifted the Blue and White and the crowd got behind their home squad. Trailing by three, UK put together a 4-1 run off of some Rebel miscues and kills from Pavan and Mendoza. The visitors then went up 6-5, before Kentucky strung together six consecutive points. Rapp had two powerful kills and a crowd-pleasing solo block in the stretch. Ole Miss didn't lie down however, and pulled within 13-11. Hiler found a spot along the left line to give Kentucky match point. The Rebels fired back with a kill of their own, before a service error clinched the match for Kentucky. Rapp led UK with three kills in the set, with three other players registering two.
"Mississippi is a very good team and they were able to capitalize on their possessions," said Skinner. "The SEC is a tough conference, and you have to be ready to play on every single point. But, I thought we really responded in the last two sets and showed our toughness to pull this out."
For the match, Kentucky held Ole Miss to just a .128 hitting percentage. UK tallied 69 kills on the day and turned back nine Rebel attacks.
Kentucky returns to action with two road matches next weekend. UK travels to Mississippi State on Friday, and then to Alabama on Sunday. Follow along with the Wildcats all season long on UKathletics.com.