#19/22 UK Notches Sweep of Mississippi State
Oct. 24, 2008
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The #19/22 Kentucky volleyball team remained perfect against SEC West opponents using a stifling defense at the net to claim a three-set sweep over Mississippi State on Friday night in Starkville. UK claimed set scores of 25-19, 25-23 and 25-15 for the win.
"It took us awhile to get in rhythm, but once we did I thought we did a great job of closing out the match," said Head Coach Craig Skinner. "Our blocking effort was phenomenal tonight which I really thought gave Mississippi State problems offensively."
Offensively for the Blue and White, five players tallied four or more kills. Sophomore Sarah Mendoza led the way with eight and classmate Blaire Hiler chipped in with seven. Sophomore Lauren Rapp tallied six, with Nzenwa (5) and Pavan (4) the other players adding the spark. Rumely dished out 24 assists and junior BriAnne Sauer led the defense with 12 digs on the night.
"Mississippi State is a much-improved team," said Skinner. "It was a really tough place to play, and I'm really happy that we got better as the match went on the win another one."
To open the first set, Kentucky claimed an early 2-0 lead off of a kill from Nzenwa to kick start the match. Mississippi State would take a lead at 5-4 and hold onto it until UK tied the score again at 12-12 on a lift from Mississippi State. With the score knotted at 15, the visitors rattled off two straight points behind kills from Mendoza and Pavan forcing the Bulldogs into a timeout. The score stayed close with Kentucky never breaking away from a two-point edge until the Cats rattled off three straight points off of Mississippi State miscues to take a 21-17 edge, forcing another timeout from the home squad. The Blue and White closed out the set with fire. Nzenwa hammered home a thunderous kill to ignite the final rally. She then teamed up with Rumely for a block. Rapp served up an ace and Hiler closed out the set with a kill that found a gap in the defense for a 25-19 win.
The Wildcats opened the second set in much the same fashion as they did the first, by taking an early lead beginning with another service ace from Rapp. However, Mississippi State quickly rebounded and grabbed the lead at 8-7. With the Bulldogs holding a 14-11 edge, Kentucky used its first timeout of the session. Out of the break the Wildcats rattled off three straight points highlighted by a solo block from Pavan. The two teams traded points back and forth with neither taking more than a one-point edge until the Blue and White took a 21-19 edge off a block from Nzenwa. That lead was immediately erased as the Bulldogs took the next three points for a 22-21 advantage. A rejection off the arms of Nzenwa and Rumely tied the score back at 22. After each team took a point, the Wildcats earned set point with a powerful hammer from Nzenwa. Pavan and Rumely closed things out for Kentucky with a set-ending block giving UK a 2-0 lead off of a 25-23 set two win.
Of UK's first nine points in the third set, four of them came off of blocks as the visitors claimed a 9-6 lead to start. The Blue and White stayed in control clinching their tenth victory in SEC action. After taking the early lead, Mississippi State got within 13-10 on an ace, but UK rattled off four of the next five points driven by a pair of kills from Hiler. The Wildcats ended the frame on a 6-1 run finishing with an ace from the right arm of Mendoza.
Fans keep in mind that UK's next match against Alabama, on Sunday, Oct. 26 will be aired live on FSN South. Match time is set for 2:00 p.m. EST.