#21 Kentucky's Blocking Overpowers Georgia
Nov. 2, 2008
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 21st-ranked Kentucky volleyball team used a conference season-high 17.5 blocks, led by sophomore Lauren Rapp's career-best nine, to overwhelm Georgia for a 3-1, victory Sunday at Memorial Coliseum. Kentucky claimed set victories of 25-20, 25-14, 24-26, 25-20 for their 19th win in their last 20 matches.
Kentucky (22-3, 13-1) used a powerful blocking defense to hold Georgia to a .087 hitting percentage for the match. UK's front line forced the Bulldogs into 33 hitting errors for the match. Rapp led the Big Blue Wall with a career-best nine rejections. Senior Queen Nzenwa turned back eight attacks, with freshman Becky Pavan chipping in with six of her own. Junior Sarah Rumely and sophomore Sarah Mendoza each added four blocks to the total.
UK's back-line defense was equally impressive. Mendoza etched a career-best 20 digs in the winning effort, with junior BriAnne Sauer tallying 17. Sophomore Laura Stokowski and Rumely each added eight.
"Our defense was outstanding tonight," said Head Coach Craig Skinner. "Whenever you can force a good-hitting team like Georgia into a percentage below .100 that means you're doing something right. Our blocking and back-line defense was exceptional."
Kentucky's season-high is 18 blocks against Albany on Sept. 13.
Offensively, Rapp led three players in double-digit kill efforts with 11. Pavan equaled a career-high with 11 of her own, Mendoza chipped in with 10 and Nzenwa added nine. Rumely dished out 39 assists on the night, and led the team with three serving aces.
"We had a really good game-plan and the team executed it extremely well," Skinner said. "We got a win against a quality opponent today."
Kentucky came out firing on all cylinders to begin the first set, taking an early 12-6 advantage. With UK up 21-13 after a Pavan kill, Georgia began a slight run. The Bulldogs pulled within 22-18, but Kentucky answered behind a pair of Pavan kills. The freshman finished the set with a service ace giving Kentucky a 25-20 set one victory.
The second set started with a 6-0 run in favor of the home squad. Georgia never got in rhythm and Kentucky benefited from nine hitting errors and a service error in the frame. UK turned back four attacks and got three kills from Rapp to take the second set by a 25-14 margin.
After the intermission, the Wildcats once again appeared to take control of the action. Of UK's first 10 points, five of them were blocks. Kentucky claimed a 12-6 advantage, but Georgia fought back to tie the score at 12. After trading leads back and forth, Kentucky gained a 24-23 edge on a kill from Nzenwa with match-point on the line. A high ball from a Georgia attacker initially appeared to be sent too deep, but match-point was saved when the ball was ruled to be tipped by a UK defender. The extra lift for the Bulldogs ignited a late rally and they forced a fourth set by taking the next three points for a 26-24 win.
Georgia jumped out to a quick start in the fourth frame with an 8-5 edge. However, Kentucky rattled off six straight points to reclaim the lead at 11-8. In the stretch Kentucky capitalized on three Georgia errors. The visitors got within 17-16, but back-to-back kills from Rapp and Rumely got the home crowd on their feet. In fitting fashion, the match was won on a combined block from Rapp and Pavan to give UK a 25-20 set win, and their 13th win in conference play.
Kentucky returns to the road for two more match-ups next weekend. The Blue and White will first visit Ole Miss on Friday night for an 8 p.m. start. Sunday, Kentucky visits Arkansas for a 2:30 p.m. tilt.