Volleyball Splits Spring Matches
The Kentucky volleyball team split a pair of matches with Eastern Kentucky and Purdue in spring action Saturday at Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats, making their home debut under first-year head coach Craig Skinner, defeated the OVC Champion Colonels 3-1 (30-26, 31-29, 29-31, 30-19) and fell to Big Ten power Purdue 3-0 (26-30, 23-30, 27-30).
UK was led by rising senior Danielle Wallace who tallied a team-high 31 kills over the two matches. Libero Jenni Casper posted 55 digs on the day and setter Leigh Marcum dished out 91 assists.
Outside hitter Melissa Popp posted 20 kills and 19 digs to lead the way for the Wildcats against EKU. Casper led the defensive effort with 29 digs and Wallace added 19 kills. UK registered 15 blocks in the match and hit .180. Freshman Queen Nzenwa, making her debut in the blue and white, added seven kills and a team-high .308 hitting percentage.
After rolling to an easy 30-26 victory in the first game, Kentucky struggled in the second frame and found itself down 29-20 with Eastern Kentucky at game point. The Cats, behind the strong serving of Julie Gagnon and five Colonel attack errors, went on an 11-0 run to close the game and post a 31-29 comeback win in game two.
Despite leading 29-26 in the third game, the Wildcats made three consecutive attack errors and Eastern Kentucky’s Denise Grundhoefer followed with two consecutive kills as the Colonels rallied for the 31-29 victory to force a fourth frame. In the final game, Popp tallied seven kills as the Cats cruised to the 30-19 win.
In the nightcap, Purdue got balanced production from its lineup to sweep the match, 3-0, despite hitting only .156. Wallace led the way for UK with 12 kills while senior outside hitter Amy Kaplan rang up 11 putdowns on .579 hitting. The Wildcats had two players post 20-plus digs against the Boilermakers as Casper had 26, while Gagnon added 24.
Kentucky staked to an early 13-10 lead in the firs game before Purdue rallied to take a 16-15 lead. UK fought its way back to take a 25-24 advantage, but the Boilermakers ran off five of the game’s next six points for the win. Purdue took command in the second game, pulling ahead 19-15 and never looking back en route to the 30-23 victory. Though Kentucky led for much of the third game, the Boilermakers fought back from a 26-24 deficit to take the lead 27-26. They scored the game’s next three points to secure the 30-27 victory.