#19 Wildcats Bounce Back with Convincing Win
Nov. 9, 2008
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The #19 Kentucky volleyball team needed just a little over an hour to put together a convincing sweep of Arkansas on Sunday. UK totaled set wins of 25-19, 25-13 and 25-7 behind a balanced offensive attack and a bruising defensive effort.
"Our focus and intensity on the little things really made the difference in this match," said Head Coach Craig Skinner. "I thought our team really responded and played great together as a unit."
Kentucky powered its way to victory behind 17 team blocks and a .464 hitting percentage. Sophomores Sarah Mendoza and Lauren Rapp both reached double-figure kill efforts with 10 each. Rapp had another impressive outing with a hitting percentage of .643.
"I'm really excited about our effort," said Skinner. "The way we played the game was definitely at an elite level tonight."
With the victory Kentucky (23-4, 14-2) has added to its win total in each season under Skinner. A year ago UK totaled 22 victories.
Junior Sarah Rumely had an all-around effort with a season-high seven kills. She added 25 assists, nine digs and five blocks. Senior Queen Nzenwa tallied seven kills and five blocks on the day with a .583 hitting percentage. Sophomore Blaire Hiler chipped in with four kills and four blocks, including two individual rejections. Freshman Becky Pavan paced UK at the net with a team-best eight blocks while adding a pair of kills. Defensively, junior BriAnne Sauer and sophomore Laura Stokowski had 12 and seven digs from the back line.
Arkansas got off to a quick start to open the match taking the lead early. UK tied the score at three a piece after a Mendoza kill, but Arkansas immediately responded to reclaim their advantage. A block from Hiler tied the score at 11, and Kentucky grabbed its first lead at 12-11 after a solo block from Mendoza. Arkansas got back into things quickly and then once again grabbed a hold of a lead at 13-12. The home squad took its largest lead at three points with the score 17-14 after a tap that split UK's defense. The Wildcats would slowly cut into the lead however, and back-to-back kills from Hiler and Mendoza helped the Blue and White tie the score at 18. Nzenwa's kill made the score 20-19 and UK never looked back scoring the next five points to take the first set by the score of 25-19.
Kentucky used a blistering .379 hitting percentage to open things up in the first set, while holding Arkansas to just a .129 percentage. UK laid down 15 kills and totaled five blocks in the first stanza.
It was all Kentucky in the second set as the Blue and White claimed the lead at 2-1 and never looked back. Rumely found an open area in the defense for the initial lead. The Wildcats grasped their largest lead at 20-8 on a kill by Nzenwa. UK finished the set off with a powerful slam by Rapp to take the second frame 25-13. UK topped its first set hitting percentage by hitting at a phenomenal .500 percentage with 15 kills and no hitting errors in the second set. Arkansas was limited to a .071 percentage, due in large part to the Wildcats' seven blocks in the frame. Pavan paced the defensive effort for the visitors, tallying four blocks in the set.
The Blue and White opened to 2-0 lead after kills from Hiler and Rapp, and maintained their consistency to win their 14th match in conference play. Back-to-back rejections from the teams of Pavan and Hiler, and then Pavan and Rapp broke open the frame with UK leading 15-6. To wrap up the set freshmen Ann Armes and Gretchen Giesler got in on the action. Armes laid down a kill and Giesler pitched in with a pair of aces to help UK grab a 25-7 third set victory.
The Wildcats are next in action when they host South Carolina on Friday night. First serve is slated for a 7 p.m. start. Live stats and free video streaming are available at UKathletics.com.