Volleyball Tops Colonels For Sixth Straight Win
Junior Kentucky middle blocker Queen Nzenwa had a match-high 12 kills and tied her career best with a .750 hitting percentage on Wednesday, Sept. 4, to direct the Wildcats to a 3-0 (30-11, 30-19, 30-21) win against intra-state foe Eastern Kentucky in Memorial Coliseum.
The Wildcats improve to 7-1 with their sixth consecutive win, while the Colonels drop to 1-5. Kentucky has now won 11 straight home matches dating back to last season. The Cats have not fallen at home since a 3-2 loss to then-No. 10 Florida on Sept. 29, 2006. UK has recorded four straight 3-0 victories during its season-long six-match winning streak.
Nzenwa added a match-high seven blocks, including five block assists to move her into sole possession of eight-place on the school’s all-time career block assists chart. Fellow middle blocker and reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week Nicole Britenriker recorded 11 kills with five digs and four blocks. Sophomore setter Sarah Rumely dished out a squad-best 37 assists to complement three kills on .500 hitting and seven digs to pace a balanced Kentucky offensive effort.
“Sarah did a great job of balancing our offense tonight,” said UK head coach Craig Skinner. “I thought we did a nice job of keeping the EKU defense on their heels. Our middles played great tonight and I thought that again the block took over at the end of the games. I am pleased that we were able to come away with a 3-0 win.”
Kentucky hit .280 for the match after posting a .385 hitting percentage in the opening frame and a .324 clip in game two. The Wildcats limited Eastern Kentucky to a -.094 hitting efficiency and forced the Colonels into 32 attack errors. The UK blocking effort was dominant once again, out-blocking Eastern Kentucky by a 12-4 margin. The Cats have recorded double-digit team blocks in five of their last six outings.
Freshman Lauren Rapp had eight kills and five blocks, while junior libero Alisa Pierce led the defensive effort with seven digs.
Kentucky opened game one to a 9-3 advantage as three consecutive Colonel errors capped the run and forced Eastern Kentucky to call an early timeout. After a point by EKU, Britenriker drilled a sharp kill down the line and Rapp followed with a service ace to extend the Wildcats’ advantage to 11-4. Kentucky kept rolling and took an 18-6 advantage after a powerful block by Britenriker and Rumely that forced another Colonel timeout.
Out of the break, sophomore Brooke Bartek registered a kill to spark a 6-0 run by the Wildcats which widened the margin to 23-6. Nzenwa and Britenriker notched back-to-back kills to bring the Cats to game point at 29-10 and the Wildcats closed out the 30-11 first-game win. Kentucky hit .385 in the opening frame, while limiting Eastern to -.200 hitting.
The Wildcats took a 5-3 advantage in the second game after an ace by Pierce. Back-to-back kills by Britenriker and Rumely, followed by a Rapp ace extended Kentucky’s advantage to 12-6. The Wildcats kept playing strong as two consecutive kills from Nzenwa moved them ahead 18-11. Rapp drilled a powerful kill down the middle and then teamed with Britenriker to post a block that extended UK’s lead to 21-13. Kentucky eased to the 30-19 win behind .324 hitting.
The Cats opened the third frame on a 9-1 tear behind the strong serving of freshman outside hitter Sarah Mendoza. Kentucky used a kill by Mendoza and a pair of attack errors by Eastern to extend their advantage to 17-7. A put down by Nzenwa and three EKU attack errors allowed the Wildcats to push the lead to 21-8. Trailing 23-10, the Colonels ran off four consecutive points to come within nine, 23-14. EKU hung tough late in the third game to come as close as seven, but a kill by Nzenwa and a ball-handling error against Eastern allowed the Cats to take a 30-21 game-three victory.
Kentucky returns to action this weekend when it travels to Atlanta to compete in the Georgia Tech Classic. The Wildcats first meet nationally prominent Arizona at noon on Friday.