Wildcats Struggle Against No. 20 Tennessee
The Kentucky volleyball team fell short in its bid to upset No. 20 Tennessee on Sunday afternoon at the Stokely Athletics Center in Knoxville, Tenn. The Lady Vols took a 3-0 victory over Kentucky, which falls to 10-5 on the season and 1-3 in Southeastern Conference play. UT is enjoying its best start since 1973 with a 14-1 overall record and a 4-0 start in SEC play.
Alex Montefalco led the Wildcats with 11 kills and six digs on .321 hitting, while Amy Kaplan had seven kills on .235 hitting for the match. Kentucky hit .128 on the afternoon to UTís .429. The Lady Vols were led by Amy Morris with 13 kills on .500 hitting, and Yuliya Stoyanova with 12 kills on .667 hitting.
The Wildcats, who were forced to play without freshman Kristen Cunningham in the middle due to illness, opened the match with a different starting lineup and fell behind 11-1 early. Back-to-back errors by the Lady Vols later in the game put the score at 15-4, but UK could never recover from the early deficit and lost the game, 30-13. Six of Kentuckyís 13 were made off Tennessee errors. Kentucky hit -.086 in the game to UTís .242.
UK rebounded to start the second game, taking its first lead at 4-3 on a UT hitting error. Three more ties ensued before the Lady Vols used a 5-0 run to grab a 14-9 lead. A Tennessee serving error gave UK the ball back and Melissa Popp capitalized with a quick kill, however, a 3-0 run by the Vols would force UK to burn a timeout. UT kept rolling out of the timeout, taking two more kills before a shot by Popp stopped the run.
The teams traded points for a short time as UT worked its way toward game point. After a service ace from the Vols put the score at 28-18, UK took a final timeout to try to stop the run. Tennessee followed the timeout with a quick kill, but was held off game point by a service error. A shot from Popp was cut off by a solo block from Morris to give UT a 30-19 victory. The Cats hit .235 in the game, led by six kills from Montefalco. UT freshman Stoyanova had eight kills in the game to lead a .581 Lady Vol hitting effort.
Tennessee came back strong from the break to take a 4-0 lead in the third game. The Cats were able to whittle the lead to three at 11-8 on a shot by Kaplan, but UT eased back out to a six-point edge at 19-13, forcing a Kentucky timeout. The Wildcats registered a block assist from Kaplan and Ki Eveland out of the timeout, but were forced to burn another timeout later when three consecutive kills for the Lady Vols put the lead at 25-16. UK could never recover, dropping the match with a 30-18 game three loss.
Kentucky returns to action on Friday, Oct. 8 when the Georgia Bulldogs visit Memorial Coliseum for a 7 p.m. match.