Wildcats Storm Back for 3-2 Win at Tennessee
Oct. 26, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Facing a 2-0 deficit in the match as well as an eight-point hole in the fourth set, the Kentucky volleyball team showed great resiliency and rode the energy of the senior class to an incredible 3-2 (21-25, 27-29, 25-14, 25-22, 15-5) comeback win at Tennessee on Friday night. The win over the Lady Vols marks the first in Knoxville, Tenn, since the 2008 season, and it also ensures UK a sweep of the season series for the first time since 2007.
"This match goes to our seniors, they stepped up when we needed them to," UK coach Craig Skinner said. "We knew we had it in us to compete in big matches like this. Our seniors literally willed us to a win."
With the victory, Kentucky improves to 14-8 overall on the year and 8-4 in league competition. Tennessee falls to 14-6 and 7-4 in SEC action.
Kentucky was led by the senior class who provided the spark both offensively and defensively. Senior Ashley Frazier paced the Wildcat attack with 18 kills. Setter Christine Hartmann logged a double-double effort with 51 assists and 11 digs. Libero Stephanie Klefot had 19 digs and seven assists in the match, but kept rallies going with unbelievable hustle.
"Our toughness, resiliency and defense after set two, we as a staff just couldn't be prouder," Skinner said.
Tennessee opened to a 2-0 lead in the game before UK utilized a 25-14 third set win to prolong the match. The Lady Volunteers raced out to a lead as large as eight in the fourth, before UK capped the stanza on a 16-6 run to earn a 25-22 win and force the decisive fifth frame.
Kills from Frazier and freshman Sara Schwarzwalder gave the Wildcats a 2-0 lead it would never relinquish with the momentum clearly on its side. A 4-0 run by the Blue and White pushed the lead to 8-2 into the switching of sides. UK did not let up, and closed out the frame on a 7-3 run with Tennessee committing back-to-back attacking errors for the Wildcat win.
UK posted seven kills on a blazing .500 hitting clip in the set with three coming from the hand of Frazier. Tennessee managed a mere three kills on negative .071 hitting in the final stanza.
Frazier led four Wildcats in double figures in the kills' column. Sophomore Lauren O'Conner had 12. Junior Whitney Billings notched another double-double effort with 11 kills and 15 digs. She had seven kills after the second set. Junior Alexandra Morgan also reached double figures with 11 kills while adding a career-high five service aces.
After the Lady Vols claimed the opening two sets, UK came out of the locker room and earned a 25-14 third set win to prolong the match. UK totaled 15 kills on .353 hitting, led by five from Morgan. Tennessee was frustrated into eight kills, committing five errors for a .088 clip.
Four-straight points from the Wildcats opened the third set. The Lady Vols pulled back to within two as late as 14-12, but UK posted an 11-2 run to end the set. The stanza concluded with Kentucky scoring the final seven points beginning with five straight kills. Morgan, Frazier, Hartmann and Schwarzwalder all registered at least one hammer in the run, and then Morgan capped the set with back-to-back aces for the Wildcat win.
Tennessee raced out to a 9-3 lead in the fourth set. UK kept chipping away and mounted a 9-3 run to tie the match at 18 on consecutive kills from Billings. Tennessee took a timeout, and out of the break UK forced the home team into an erroneous attack. Billings came back with another kill to push UK's advantage to 20-18. UK logged set point at 24-22, and concluded the comeback by forcing the Lady Vols into their sixth hitting error of the stanza to force the final frame.
UK totaled 15 kills on .297 hitting with Billings torching the Lady Vol defense with six kills on .556 hitting. Tennessee totaled 13 on .194 hitting.
Kentucky will remain on the road and travel to Georgia for a 1:30 p.m. ET matchup on Sunday. It will mark the first of two meetings between the SEC Eastern Division rivals over the final four weeks of the season.
Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the UK volleyball team. For additional coverage of the volleyball squad be sure and check out CatScratchesBlog.com/volleyball.