Cats Sweep Austin Peay For Fourth Straight Win
Three Kentucky players registered double-digit kills Saturday morning, led by senior middle blocker Nicole Britenriker’s 15 kills, and the Wildcat blocking juggernaut continued as UK posted a dominant 3-0 (30-22, 30-24, 30-10) win against Austin Peay in Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky (5-1) out-blocked the Lady Govs (3-4) 12-0 in the match, as junior middle blocker Queen Nzenwa led the Wildcats with 10 blocks to complement 10 kills on a season-high .667 hitting for her second double-double effort of the season. Britenriker’s 15 kills came on a season-best .571 hitting with nine digs. Freshman Lauren Rapp tied her career high with 10 kills and posted five blocks.
The Wildcats have recorded 12 or more team blocks in each of their last four matches.
“I am happy with our blocking today,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “We can really change the momentum of a game with our blocking, like we did in the third game. It is really good to see our team improve as the match goes on.”
Sophomore setter Sarah Rumely dished out 39 assists and served up a season-best four aces, while classmate Brooke Bartek registered eight kills with a career-high two blocks. Junior libero Alisa Pierce led the Kentucky defensive effort with 14 digs.
The Wildcats hit .322 for the match, while limiting Austin Peay to just .049 hitting, including a -.172 efficiency in the final game.
Kentucky opened game one on a 5-1 tear behind the strong serving of Rumely. Austin Peay rallied to come within one, 5-4, before a kill by Bartek on the right side stopped the Lady Govs’ scoring streak. Kentucky extended its advantage to 9-6 after a kill by freshman middle blocker Blaire Hiler before Austin Peay scored three consecutive points to knot the score at nine on a kill by Dorota Szymska and force Skinner to burn an early timeout. With the Wildcats tailing 10-9, Britenriker drilled a pair of kills down the right side to spark a 5-1 run for UK that put it ahead 14-11.
The Lady Govs stayed close, but Hiler, Britenriker and Rumely posted consecutive kills to extend UK’s advantage to 20-16 and cause Austin Peay to call a timeout. The Lady Govs came out of the break strong before Nzenwa registered back-to-back kills to put the Cats ahead 25-19. Leading 25-21, four consecutive Kentucky points, highlighted by a Rumely ace, brought UK to game point, 29-21. The Wildcats closed out the 30-22 victory, hitting .333 in the opening frame.
Kentucky broke to a 6-3 lead in game two after a block solo and a kill by Mendoza on successive plays. Austin Peay whittled its deficit down to one, 6-5, after an attack error by Britenriker. From there, the Wildcats scored three consecutive points, highlighted by a powerful kill by Bartek on the outside, to go up 9-6. Trailing 11-7, Austin Peay ran off five consecutive points to go in front for the first time at 12-11 and force Skinner to use a timeout.
After four ties, a crafty kill by Rumely on second contact found the floor to put UK ahead 16-15 and spark a 4-0 run by the Cats. The Lady Govs kept it close, coming within one, 25-24, but Britenriker ended a long rally with an emphatic kill down the line that brought the crowd to its feet. Kentucky scored the final three points of game two and closed out the 30-24 victory. The Wildcats limited Austin Peay to just .098 hitting in the second game.
The Cats were dominant in game three, opening to a 14-2 advantage that included strong play from middle blockers Britenriker, Nzenwa and Rapp. Kentucky had four blocks during that stretch. After a point by Austin Peay, the Wildcats scored seven consecutive points, including a pair of aces by Rumely to go up 21-3. Kentucky cruised to the 30-10 victory by scoring the final four points of the game, including three kills from Britenriker.
Kentucky returns to action this evening when it takes on Cleveland State in the final match of the Kentucky Classic. Opening serve is set for 7 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum with live statistics available at ukathletics.com.