Cats Comeback Falls Short at Ole Miss
Nov. 7, 2008
OXFORD, Miss. - Fighting off a 2-0 set hole, trailing by six points in the fourth set and then holding off match point on four occasions in the fifth frame the #19 Kentucky volleyball team came up just short as Ole Miss upset the Wildcats by a 3-2 score Friday. In a volleyball match that represented the highest of competition in sports neither team backed down and Ole Miss prevailed with set victories of 25-20, 26-24, 19-25, 27-29, 17-15 for the upset.
The sophomore class was spectacular for the Cats (22-4, 13-2) as the duo of Sarah Mendoza and Lauren Rapp achieved career-highs with 24 and 23 kills respectively. Both also notched double-double efforts as they scooped up 14 and 12 digs, but it was not enough for the Cats to overcome a tenacious Ole Miss squad and their rowdy fans. It was the first time since 2006 that two Kentucky players went over 20 kills in a match.
Sophomore Laura Stokowski set a career-high with 17 digs on the night. Junior Sarah Rumely posted a season-best 62 assists, and senior Queen Nzenwa paced the team with six blocks while adding eight kills. Sophomore Blaire Hiler chipped in with 10 kills, and junior BriAnne Sauer led the defensive effort with 20 digs.
With momentum on their side after mounting an incredible comeback UK jumped out to a 4-0 lead to open the fifth and deciding set. Mendoza laid down a pair of kills and Stokowski registered a service ace in the stretch. After an Ole Miss timeout, Mendoza fired another kill and the team of Nzenwa-Rumely rejected a Rebel attack for a 6-0 lead before Ole Miss finally tallied a point. The home squad mounted a comeback of their own to bring the score to 9-7, and UK took a timeout of their own. After the timeout, Rapp fired another kill but the home team answered with four consecutive points to take an 11-10 edge. Kentucky once again used a timeout to attempt to interrupt the run.
With Ole Miss holding a 14-11 lead, UK staved off match point three times to knot the score at 14 after back-to-back blocks from Nzenwa and Mendoza. Ole Miss would claim another match point before Mendoza answered with a kill to tie it again. Ole Miss then laid down a kill to take a 16-15 lead and got a little luck. With match point on the line, the serve from Ole Miss tipped the net sending the ball to the near court and UK could not come up with the reception falling 17-15.
After trailing 2-0, Kentucky returned to the court determined in the third stanza. The Wildcats claimed an early 4-1 lead off a kill from Rapp. Ole Miss pulled within one at 5-4, but UK responded with kills from Hiler and Mendoza to take an early 9-5 edge. Ole Miss slowly began to cut into the Wildcats' lead eventually tying the score at 12 a piece, forcing UK into a timeout. Out of the break, Ole Miss took its first lead of the set off of a block. Kentucky didn't go away though, as they traded points back and forth until they grabbed a hold of a three-point edge at 18-15 after an Ole Miss miscue and would never look back. UK controlled the remainder of the set and earned a 25-19 victory. Mendoza came up with three kills in the final five points to aide UK's cause.
The home squad took a 12-8 edge to open the fourth set. Kentucky took its first timeout down by four, and returned from the break to watch Ole Miss take the next two points. Nzenwa's kill and an Ole Miss error helped UK pull within 15-11, but Ole Miss retaliated with a pair of kills to take a six-point edge at 17-11. Ole Miss once again took a six-point edge with the score at 18-12, but UK rattled off the next three points behind a Mendoza kill and a block off the arms of Pavan and Rumely. A Rebel error helped UK pull to within three at 18-15, forcing Ole Miss into a timeout. Out of the break, UK earned the next point after a long rally and an Ole Miss hitting error. Mississippi followed with a kill, before Pavan answered with of her own. Another Ole Miss hitting error pulled Kentucky to within one at 19-18.
A serving ace gave Ole Miss a two-point edge, but Rapp fired back with her 20th kill of the night. The two teams traded points back and forth again until another Ole Miss hitting error tied the score at 22-22. The home squad fired back with another kill to once again take the lead, but Nzenwa found a spot to split the defense and knot the score yet again. The senior was in on the action teaming with Rumely for a block to give UK set point, and forcing Ole Miss into another timeout. A kill from the home team knotted the score at 24-24. Ole Miss saved UK's set point four times before Nzenwa and Hiler teamed up for a block to give UK a 29-27 set victory, forcing a deciding fifth set.
Ole Miss took control of the first set early, grabbing the lead at 6-5 and then extended it to a five-point edge at 13-8 when Kentucky used its first timeout. The Rebels claimed a 23-15 edge before UK scored the next three points behind kills from Nzenwa and Mendoza to bring the visitors within five points. After a timeout from the home team, Ole Miss laid down a kill to make it set point. UK saved the set three times before Ole Miss found a spot along the back line to claim the first set 25-20.
UK grabbed a hold of an early 3-0 lead off three straight points from Rapp. UK maintained a steady lead for most of the set, but Ole Miss fought back and knotted the score at 15-15. The two teams then traded points back and forth before Kentucky once again earned the lead at 20-18 off another kill from Rapp. UK stretched its lead to 22-19 behind a kill from Hiler forcing Ole Miss into a timeout. Immediately out of the break, sophomore Annmarie Behr tallied an ace to give UK a 23-19 lead. The Rebels fired back by taking the next three points to pull back within one. Following a timeout by the Wildcats, Ole Miss responded with a block to even the score at 23-23. Kentucky earned set point on a blocking error by the Rebels, but Ole Miss came up with a kill to tie the score again. Ole Miss won the set 26-24 on a block.
Sunday's match with Arkansas is set to begin at 2:30 p.m. ET. Results and a recap will be available following the completion of action on UKathletics.com.