Wildcats Dominate Villanova for 3-0 Win
Led by sophomore outside hitter Ashlee Fisher (West Bend, Wis.), who registered a team-high 13 kills on a personal best .750 hitting percentage on Friday night, the Kentucky volleyball team hit a season-best .402 in a sound 3-0 (30-21, 30-21, 30-15) sweep of Villanova on the first day of the Kentucky Classic in Memorial Coliseum.
The Wildcats, who improve to 5-1 with the win, dominated Nova (1-7) throughout the match, out-hitting Villanova .556-.-069 in the final frame. Junior middle blocker Nicole Britenriker (Cincinnati, Ohio) posted 12 kills on .556 hitting as part of a powerful Kentucky offensive attack. Senior libero Jenni Casper (Louisville, Ky.) led the defensive effort for the sixth straight match with a team-high 16 digs, while sophomore defensive specialist Alisa Pierce (Louisville, Ky.) added 10 scoops. Freshman setter Sarah Rumely (New Palestine, Ind.) dished out 40 assists in the win. UK out-dug Villanova 46-28 in the match.
Kentucky broke out to an early 4-2 lead in game one after an emphatic kill by Britenriker on the right side. Villanova kept it close before UK scored six consecutive points to go ahead 11-4, including a pair of service aces by Rumely during the Wildcat run. After Villanova cut the Kentucky advantage to 13-9 on a kill by Alona Cherkez, UK stopped the drought as a put-down by Britenriker on the right side stuffed Nova libero Emily Brown. Kentucky extended its advantage to 20-15 as senior outside hitter Melissa Popp (Indianapolis, Ind.), who finished with six kills, found the spot on a ball sailing out of bounds for the kill. Back-to-back put-downs by Britenriker on the right side gave UK a 25-19 advantage and the Cats closed out the opening frame with a 30-21 win. Kentucky hit .412 en route to its victory in game one.
In game two, Kentucky took an early 2-0 advantage following a service ace by sophomore right side hitter Tess Edwards (Ottowa, Ontario). Villanova rallied to tie the score at 4-4 and the two teams would remain close throughout the second frame. After 11 more ties, UK went ahead 21-19 on a pair of service errors by Nova. Two consecutive put-downs by Fisher allowed Kentucky to move in front by five, 26-21, and force a Villanova timeout. Out of the break, three consecutive errors by Nova allowed UK to reach game point before a Rumely service ace closed out the game, giving UK a 30-21 victory.
Kentucky streaked to a 5-2 advantage in the third game after a kill by Popp on the outside. Britenriker and Rumely teamed up on the next play to post a powerful block on the right side and move UK ahead 6-2. Kentucky extended its advantage to five, 10-5, after a kill and a service ace by Britenriker on consecutive plays. After Nova came within three, 12-9, sophomore middle blocker Queen Nzenwa (Baltimore, Md.) drilled a kill down the middle to stop the scoring streak. A crafty play on second contact by Rumely for the put-down extended UK’s advantage to six, 15-9. Kentucky continued to thrive, going in front by its largest margin of the game, 17-10, after an Nzenwa put-down off the block that brought the Memorial Coliseum crowd of 1,010 to its feet and forced a Villanova timeout. UK kept rolling to extend its lead to 25-12 on another emphatic kill by Britenriker that again caused VU to burn its final timeout. Back-to-back errors by Nova brought UK to match point and sophomore Erin Turner (Winnetka, Calif.) posted a kill to give the Cats an impressive 30-15 victory.
“This was a great team effort from everybody tonight,” said head coach Craig Skinner. “Ashlee Fisher had a big night for us to go along with some great ball handling. We were able to sustain constant pressure and concentration in all three games tonight and we are looking forward to two great matches tomorrow.”
Kentucky returns to action Saturday in the Kentucky Classic when it takes on Toledo at 10 a.m. and Georgia Tech at 4 p.m.