Volleyball Cats Nearly Upset No. 20 Notre Dame
Oct. 23, 2001
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky volleyball team came within two points of upsetting 20th-ranked Notre Dame in a thrilling five-game match on Tuesday, Oct. 23 in Memorial Coliseum. Senior April Barnhorst knocked down a season-high 19 kills to lead the UK attack.
Kentucky (10-9, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) found many things to celebrate despite the final score, as several Cats posted career bests in the match. Junior Kristen Batt found her way into the UK record books after posting 14 kills in the match. She now hold 10th place on UK's all-time career kills list with 936, passing Jill Ackerman (1983-86). Fellow junior Anne Koester grabbed her first double-double of the season with a season-high 16 kills and a career-best 13 digs.
Freshman Sarah Spinner earned her eighth double-double of the season with 10 kills and 13 digs, while sophomore setter Kristi Kelley tallied her first career double-double with 59 assists and 14 digs. Kelley added a career-high seven blocks, while Barnhorst added eight defensive stoppers of her own.
UK got off to a great start, taking the first game by a tally of 30-28. Sissy Canfield's three kills led the UK attack in the match, while both teams had trouble with accuracy. Kentucky posted a .075 hitting percentage to Notre Dame's .091, but still grabbed the win.
Notre Dame took control of the second game early on, pushing off to an 11-5 lead before a Spinner kill sparked the Cats. UND managed to hold the Cats at bay for a while, but Kentucky wouldn't be counted out, fighting back to a mere one-point deficit at 25-26. The Irish finished off the game, however, holding the Wildcats scoreless and grabbing the tying win, 30-25. Kristen Batt sent down a kill to make the score 11-16 and move into 10th place in the records book for career kills.
Kentucky returned from the lockerroom recharged and broke past a 4-1 UND opening run to tie things at four. The Cats took their first lead on a Batt kill to put UK up 5-4. Kentucky would stretch its lead to as many as six down the stretch as it took the go-ahead game, 30-26.
Poised to take its first win over a ranked opponent this season, UK stayed tough in game four, keeping within four throughout the game. The Cats held the Fighting Irish at 28 for three straight points, highlighted by an Anne Koester reverse kill. Notre Dame held strong, however, grabbing the game win, 30-27, and forced a tiebreak situation.
Kentucky won the toss before game five and elected to receive. The teams saw seven ties in the thrilling fifth game, as UK found itself at an 8-5 advantage before the changeover. Notre Dame grabbed the lead at 11-10 but a misplaced UND serve tied it again. The Irish grabbed another lead before a huge block assist by Barnhorst and Koester forced another tie at 13.
An April Barnhorst kill evened things again at 14, before Notre Dame went on serve for the match with the 15-14 lead. Barnhorst stepped up again, combining with Kelley for a block assist to keep the Cats alive. Kentucky put a block out of bounds on the next point to give
UND the advantage again, and this time the Irish wouldn't let the opportunity pass them by, as they grabbed the match win on a block assist by Malinda Goralski and Kristen Kinder.
"We knew that Notre Dame would be tough as a ranked opponent and a program with so much prestige," Coach Jona Braden said. "It was important for us to take what we learned at South Carolina on Sunday and put a whole match together.
"We had a whole lot of leadership from April Barnhorst on the floor tonight," Braden continued. "Sure, we'd like to have some points back, but we will learn and get better from this incredible match."
Kentucky returns to action this weekend when it heads south to Mississippi for an SEC road swing with Ole Miss on Friday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. ET and Mississippi State on Sunday, Oct. 28 at 3 p.m. ET.