Kentucky Stopped Short By Georgia’s Oquendo
Georgia’s Alexandra Oquendo registered 35 kills on .778 hitting to lead the Georgia Bulldogs past the Kentucky, 3-1 (30-22, 32-34, 30-25, 30-25), in Southeastern Conference action Friday evening at Memorial Coliseum.
The Wildcats (10-6, 1-4 SEC) were led by outside hitter Sarah Spinner, who rang up a career-high 26 kills on .444 hitting to go with 17 digs. Alex Montefalco provided 20 kills and 17 digs, while first-year setter Ki Eveland dished out a career-high 68 assists and added six kills on .600 hitting for the night. Amy Kaplan added 11 kills on .444 hitting.
Kentucky lost the match despite having more kills and more digs than the Bulldogs (10-5, 3-3). Georgia hit .410, compared to UK’s season-best .353, but the Bulldogs out-blocked the Cats, 11.0-6.0.
The first game was tight in the early going, but Georgia broke out to a 10-7 lead after Eveland’s first serve of the match hit the net and Danielle Wallace made an errant attack on successive plays. After the Bulldogs extended their lead to 15-10, the Wildcats cut the Georgia advantage to three, 16-13. Wallace and Kaplan notched back-to-back kills and then Montefalco put down an acrobatic set from Eveland, which Georgia touched as it sailed out of bounds. The Bulldogs took control late in the first game as an Oquendo kill put them up seven, 25-18. After UK staved off two Georgia attempts at game point, a kill by Julia Petruschke ended the game -- a 30-22 win for the Bulldogs.
The Wildcats staked to a 5-2 lead in the second game after Kaplan found the middle of the floor for a kill and Eveland followed with a dink-shot on the next play. Georgia battled back and took a 7-5 lead forcing UK coach Jona Braden to burn an early game-two timeout. Kentucky rallied out of the timeout as Spinner slammed one down and followed with a tap-shot over the net tape to pull the two teams even at eight.
The teams were tied again at 25 and after spoiling two Georgia attempts at game point, Kentucky took a 30-29 lead on a kill by Montefalco. The Bulldogs tied the game three more times, but each time Montefalco, who had five kills over the Wildcats’ final six points, was able to answer. An attack error by Petruschke gave the Cats a hard-fought 34-32 victory to even the match score. Kentucky hit over .300 in each of the first two games, but the Bulldogs out-hit the Wildcats in both early frames.
The third stanza was a see-saw battle as both teams remained even throughout much of the game. The Wildcats broke a tie at 11 with a kill by Kaplan before Spinner gave UK a 12-11 lead with a kill. The Bulldogs fought back to take a 17-15 advantage on a service ace by Brooke Burlingame. With Georgia leading 22-20, Eveland converted a spinning shot for kill to bring the Cats within one. Trailing 26-23, Montefalco found the floor on back-to-back plays to narrow the Bulldogs’ advantage. From there, the Bulldogs opened up the game to take a 29-25 lead on consecutive illegal contact calls against UK. Georgia closed the stanza out with a kill by Jennie Metz for a 30-25 win.
Kentucky took an early 10-6 lead in the fourth game with a kill by Melissa Popp, but Georgia rallied to tie the game at 13 after a kill by Amy Krahn. The game was tied at the next three points, but the Bulldogs took a 22-18 advantage after back-to-back attack errors by UK. UGA was dominating over the game’s final points, extending its advantage to 26-20 on a Martina Wagner putdown. The Bulldogs ended the match, fittingly, with a kill by Oquendo for a 30-25 match-deciding victory.
Kentucky returns to action on Sunday when it hosts No. 8 Florida at Memorial Coliseum. Opening serve is set for 1 p.m.
Fans can follow all of the action with live stats on www.ukathletics.com.