Wildcats Win Close One With Brown, 3-2
It was a tale of the young and old Friday night in Welsh-Ryan Arena on the campus of Northwestern University, as Kentucky senior Danielle Wallace teamed with redshirt freshman Queen Nzenwa to guide the Wildcats to a hard-fought 3-2 win over Brown. Wallace had 20 kills on .311 hitting, while Nzenwa added 14 kills on .458 hitting for UK.
Freshman setter Tess Edwards saw action in four games, tallying 41 assists, while Jenni Casper led the defensive effort with 11 digs. Junior Julie Gagnon had a solid night with eight kills, eight digs and a career-best five aces. Kentucky out-hit Brown .278 to .227, but gave up 16 points on serving errors.
“We grew in this match because we were able to come back and win a five-game match,” Coach Craig Skinner said. “We couldn’t get that done against Wright State (last Saturday) and this team fought with its back against the wall.”
The Wildcats dominated the start of game one, taking a 6-0 lead to force a Brown timeout. The Bears rallied out of the break, cutting UK’s lead to one at 9-8. Kentucky was able to stretch back out to a four-point lead at 21-17 on a kill from Popp, but BU tied the score at 23 and took its first lead at 24-23 on a blocking error by Nzenwa. UK regained the lead at 26-25 and later used a kill from Gagnon and a block from Nzenwa to win the game, 30-27.
Play was close to open the second game, with eight early ties before an 8-4 Kentucky run gave the Wildcats a 20-16 lead and forced a Brown timeout. Wallace dominated for the Wildcats down the stretch, recording three kills and a solo block to help UK to a 30-21 victory.
After falling behind 3-0 to start the third game, Kentucky took the next three points to even the score. The Cats build to a 10-5 lead after back-to-back Gagnon aces. UK kept its distance, but Brown used Wildcat errors to get back in the game, tying the score at 14. Brown charged back in, using four consecutive kills to earn an 18-15 lead and force a UK break.
The Bears pushed ahead to a 25-18 lead, but Kentucky continued to claw back and sliced the deficit to three at 28-25. A net violation on the Wildcats put BU on game point, but a service error by the Bears gave Kentucky another chance. However, Brown remained tough and hit one off the block to seal the 30-26 game and cause a fourth game.
Play was close throughout the fourth game, reaching 10 ties before Brown ripped off four in a row to lead 17-13. A Kentucky timeout proved fruitful as the Wildcats cut the lead to two at 20-18, but then allowed mistakes to give BU another big lead at 25-20. Brown’s solid play was too much for Kentucky late as the Bears took a 30-24 victory.
The Wildcats controlled the pace in the fifth game, jumping out to a 3-0 lead and later a 6-2 advantage. Consecutive aces from Brown’s Shawn Tulac tied the score at 7-7. Three consecutive errors by the Bears put UK in the lead, 10-7, and the Wildcats didn’t look back. UK closed out the final game with a 5-3 run for a 15-10 victory.
Kentucky continues play in the 2005 Wildcat Classic on Saturday, facing Southern Illinois at Noon CT and host Northwestern at 7 p.m. CT. Live stats are available at www.ukathletics.com.