Casper Breaks Record as Volleyball Stops Tigers
Junior libero Jenni Casper became the Wildcats’ all-time career digs leader Sunday as Kentucky earned a 3-1 (30-22, 22-30, 30-27, 30-24) victory over LSU in Memorial Coliseum. Casper totaled 22 digs in the victory to move her career total to 1,202 and surpass Katie Eiserman’s 1,194 for the top spot on the career chart.
The Wildcats improve to 11-5 overall and 4-2 in the Southeastern Conference, already surpassing their total number of league wins from one year ago. Middle blocker Amy Kaplan led the offense for UK with 17 kills on .414 hitting, while setter Leigh Marcum had 51 assists, five kills, seven digs and three blocks on the afternoon. Middle blocker Queen Nzenwa was solid on the front line Sunday, tallying seven blocks after a nine-block performance Friday.
“Our energy and our heart willed this win away from LSU,” UK Coach Craig Skinner said. “Amy Kaplan was very strong at the end of the match, but we have shown that we really rely on everyone in order to win and that was shown by our strong defensive play today.”
In addition to Casper’s 22-dig performance, freshman Alisa Pierce posted 12 digs, junior Julie Gagnon had 11 and junior Melissa Popp added 10.
“This is a well-deserved record for Jenni,” Skinner said. “It is indicative of how hard she works, even though she is naturally talented. Jenni is excellent on service reception as well, which doesn’t always show up on the stat sheets but is very important to our success.”
The two teams battled evenly to begin the first game with Kentucky breaking to a 6-5 advantage on a kill by Fisher. A put-down by the Tigers’ Kyna Washington tied the score at six. After five more ties, LSU pulled ahead 15-14 as Vanessa Freeman registered a kill. Three consecutive attack errors by the Tigers allowed the Cats to take a 17-15 advantage. Back-to-back errors by LSU extended the Kentucky lead to 20-17 forcing LSU and former UK Coach Fran Flory to burn a timeout. Two kills by Wallace and a crafty dink by setter Leigh Marcum gave the Cats a 23-18 advantage and the Cats rolled to the 30-22 victory capped off by a kill from Fisher.
LSU took control to begin the second game, staking to a 10-7 lead on a kill by Lauren Leaumont and forcing Skinner to burn an early timeout. The Tigers continued to thrive out of the timeout, extending their advantage to 14-10 before a kill by Fisher ended the Kentucky drought. LSU went ahead 20-13 before Wallace drilled a kill to stop the Tiger rally. An attack error by Kaplan allowed LSU to take its largest lead of the match at 10 points, 26-16, and the Tigers cruised to the 30-22 win in the second frame, despite hitting only .086.
Kentucky quickly fell behind in the third frame as LSU took a 9-6 lead on an attack error by Fisher. The Wildcats rallied to tie the score at 10, but after six more ties, the Tigers went ahead 20-17 on a put-down by Iva Kuzmic to take a 20-17 lead and force a Kentucky timeout. The Wildcats began to rally out of the break, tying the score at 22 on a triumphant kill by Popp. Kaplan drilled a shot down the middle on the next play to put the Cats in front, but LSU would again tie the score. A kill by fisher and back-to-back attack errors by the Tigers put UK ahead 28-25 and the Wildcats went on to win, 30-27.
The Wildcats found their groove in the fourth game, opening to an 11-5 advantage on a kill by Fisher leading to an LSU timeout. Kentucky thrived out of the timeout, expanding to a seven-point lead at 19-12 on a Kaplan kill. The Tigers began to whittle away at the deficit to come within two, 23-21 on a service ace by Kassi Mikulik. An LSU service error ended the UK scoring drought before Pierce nailed an ace to put the Cats up 25-21. After a brief rally by the Tigers, Popp smashed a kill down the line to make the score 28-24 and Fisher capped off the 30-24 victory with a kill.
Kentucky returns to action on Friday, Oct. 14 when it hosts SEC-leading Florida in Memorial Coliseum. Opening serve is set for 7 p.m. and live stats will be available on ukathletics.com.