Wildcats Sweep UConn for Second Win of Year
The Kentucky volleyball team remains undefeated after sweeping the UConn Huskies in the second day of the Clemson Big Orange Bash in Clemson, S.C. The Wildcats move to 2-0 on the season after sweeping Western Carolina in Friday night action.
Ashlee Fisher certainly didn’t play like a freshman in the morning match, totaling 16 kills on .609 hitting and one solo block. Providing support for Fisher was middle blocker Amy Kaplan, who had nine kills on .412 hitting with two blocks and six digs. Junior Jenni Casper led the defensive corps with 11 digs.
Freshman Queen Nzenwa had another solid effort with 10 kills on .471 hitting to go with four blocks. Setter Leigh Marcum was solid with 41 assists, three kills, four digs and two blocks as well.
“This was a great win for us against a good UConn team. The best part of the match is that we got better every game,” Skinner said. “We were able to concentrate for a long period of time and put pressure on them at the end.
“Ashlee (Fisher) is a dynamic athlete and will have great nights for us. If our middles can hit over .400, it will make our outsides that much better. I also have to give credit to Leigh (Marcum) for distributing our offense the way she did. It gave us many options and allowed us to hit for a high percentage.”
After dropping the first point on a hitting error, the Cats took a 3-1 lead in game one after kills from Nzenwa, Kaplan and Wallace. UConn stayed in the action, however, finally forcing a tie at 12-12. Kentucky burned a timeout and rebounded to take a 17-14 advantage, forcing a Husky timeout. UConn took four of the next five points to even the score at 18-18, but UK wrapped two Nzenwa kills around a Julie Gagnon ace for a 21-18 lead.
A big block from Marcum extended the lead, but the Huskies wouldn’t back down, cutting the edge to one at 25-24 on a strong kill off the UK block. A kill from Fisher and a commanding block from Nzenwa and Popp sent the teams to the benches again, this time with UK leading 27-24. Kills from Nzenwa and Fisher set the Cats up for game point, which came easily on a UConn error sealing the score at 30-24.
The second game saw UConn take its first lead of the match and seven early ties before UK used a 4-0 run to take a 12-8 lead and force a UConn timeout. The Huskies were able to gain a little momentum after the break, cutting the UK lead to three at 15-12, causing a Kentucky timeout. Nzenwa sent one down to push the UK lead to four, but back-to-back Clemson points put UK on edge again.
UConn reached within one at 18-17, but the Wildcats pulled together to regain a four-point edge at 22-18 after strong consecutive kills from Fisher. A Husky timeout helped the opponent win two quick points, but they could get no closer than three points down the stretch. UK took the go-ahead game, 30-25.
The Wildcats fell behind 4-1 early in game three, but put together an 8-1 run to dig out of the hole and take a 9-5 lead, forcing their opponent to burn a timeout. The run continued to give UK an 11-5 lead after Casper sent off nine great serves. UConn was able to pull within three at 12-9, but four consecutive UK scores caused the Huskies to use another timeout.
Sloppy play by the Cats allowed UConn to pull within five at 23-18, but solid play by Kaplan would halt the Husky run there. UK sailed on to the 30-22 win with a kill from Wallace.
Overall, the Wildcats hit .330 on the afternoon to UConn’s .133. The Wildcats had seven blocks, seven service aces and 42 digs.
Kentucky returns to action on afternoon against host Clemson at 5 p.m.