Defensive Surge Powers #22 UK to Sweep
Nov. 14, 2008
LEXINGTON, Ky. - In front of a vamped-up crowd in Memorial Coliseum, the 22nd-ranked Kentucky Wildcats powered their way to a 3-0 sweep of visiting South Carolina behind tremendous play at the net. The Blue and White earned set victories of 25-19, 25-16, 25-18 to take their second consecutive sweep of an SEC opponent.
Kentucky, (24-4, 15-2) led by middle blockers Queen Nzenwa and Becky Pavan as well as right-side hitter Lauren Rapp, formed a wall at the net to tally 12 total team blocks and hold South Carolina to just a .027 hitting percentage. Pavan rejected seven attacks, with Rapp recording six and Nzenwa putting back four shots.
"I thought it was another great team effort tonight," said Kentucky Head Coach Craig Skinner. "Queen (Nzenwa) and Becky (Pavan) really controlled the net with their blocking, which really gave us opportunities to score runs of points."
Offensively, sophomore Sarah Mendoza led the way with 12 kills while Nzenwa reached double-figures with 10 hammers. Mendoza recorded a double-double effort for the 10th time this season as she also paced the UK defense with 16 digs. Pavan and setter Sarah Rumely both added seven kills to UK's .252 hitting night. Rumely dished out 29 assists on the night while adding six blocks of her own.
"We enjoyed getting to play in front of such a big crowd tonight," Skinner said. "It really helped our team play a focused and intense match."
Kentucky started slowly to open the first set as they saw the visitors take an early 5-0 lead. Nzenwa got things going for the Blue and White with a big-time kill to ignite the crowd. UK answered the early drought with a 12-5 run to take the lead at 12-10 after a kill from Blaire Hiler. The Gamecocks pulled within 16-15, but Rumely found a spot to begin a late run. The set ended on a block from the team of Pavan and Rapp with UK winning the first set 25-19.
Mendoza accounted for six kills in the opening frame as the Blue and White held South Carolina to a .000 hitting percentage. UK also got three blocks in the stanza, two off the arms of Pavan. The two teams traded points back and forth until UK grabbed a 13-12 lead after a kill from Pavan and took control of the second set. A block from the duo of Rumely and Nzenwa forced South Carolina into a late timeout with the score set at 19-15 in favor of the Cats. Returning from the break Rumely's swift hands found another open spot and the Blue and White cruised into the set-break with a 25-16 second set victory.
Kentucky used a .387 attack percentage in the second set to pull away from South Carolina who once again hit for just a .000 clip. Nzenwa paced the attack with five of her 10 kills in the set.
South Carolina opened the third set with a quick start opening to a 10-7 lead. Kentucky would quickly answer going on a 7-0 run behind a pair of kills from Rapp in the stretch to take a 14-10 advantage and never look back. With the score at 19-16 in favor of the home team, UK's next four points would come in the form of blocks--all involving Pavan. The match ended on an attacking error by the Gamecocks, thanks in large part to UK's blocking effort which forced an alteration of the shot.
Kentucky recorded seven match-clinching blocks in the stanza to close things out for the win setting up a show-down with Florida on Sunday. UK trails the Gators by a half of a game in the SEC standings and welcomes the 12th-ranked squad to the Coliseum for a 1:30 p.m. match.
Sunday's match will be broadcast live on WGVN 1580 a.m. with Dick Gabriel and Kathy DeBoer on the call.
Live stats and free video streaming of the match with the Gators is available at UK's official website UKathletics.com.