Volleyball Follows Suit With 3-2 Upset of No. 18 LSU
Sophomore Kentucky outside hitter Brooke Bartek led four players with double-digit kills Sunday and the Wildcats posted their third victory against a ranked team in less than a year with a valiant 3-2 (21-30, 25-30, 30-26, 30-26, 15-10) comeback victory against No. 18 LSU in Memorial Coliseum.
Bartek had a career-high 18 kills on .324 hitting, while freshman right-side hitter Lauren Rapp recorded 14 kills – which ties a career-high, eight digs and three blocks. Rapp’s five service points, two kills and .667 hitting percentage in the final frame were crucial to clinching the win for the Wildcats (16-5, 7-3 Southeastern Conference).
“It was a tale of two teams today and we liked the team we saw in games three, four and five,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “I am proud of our kids for fighting back and persevering through the last three games to get the victory.”
Junior middle blocker Queen Nzenwa recorded 12 kills on a squad-best .417 hitting percentage to complement a team-leading seven blocks. Nzenwa now needs just 30 more block assists to stake claim to the school record in that category.
Senior middle blocker Nicole Britenriker added 10 kills, eight digs and four blocks. Sophomore libero BriAnne Sauer led the team in digs with 24, which tied her career-high set on Friday against Ole Miss. Junior defensive specialist Alisa Pierce added 11 scoops, while sophomore setter Sarah Rumely dished out 58 assists, posted four kills and came up with seven digs.
The Wildcats, who had not beaten a ranked team in 63 attempts before knocking off No. 18 Tennessee last season, have now toppled three ranked foes since that point. Kentucky is 1-1 against ranked teams this season and the Cats have won three of their last seven meetings against squads being recognized in the AVCA Top 25.
LSU raced to an early 4-1 advantage in the opening game, but the Wildcats scored four of the game’s next five points to knot the score at 5-5. After three more ties, the Tigers capitalized on a pair of Kentucky attack errors to pull in front 11-8 and force Skinner to burn a timeout. LSU used some powerful blocking to extend its advantage to 17-11 and cause another UK timeout. Trailing 26-18, the Wildcats benefited from back-to-back LSU errors to come as close as six, 26-20, but Kentucky couldn’t get any closer in a 30-21 game-one loss. The Wildcats hit -.048 in the opening frame and the Tigers had six team blocks.
The two teams battled closely to begin game two, but LSU capitalized on several Kentucky errors to take an early 12-9 advantage. The Wildcats began chipping away at their deficit and pulled within two, 15-13, on a kill by Bartek on the outside. Back-to-back put-downs by Rapp and Britenriker brought UK within one, 19-18. LSU used a kill by Lauren DeGirolamo, who then teamed with Marina Skender for a block on the next play, to go up 22-19. LSU kept rolling and moved ahead 28-22 after a kill by Kyna Washington. A kill by Nzenwa stopped the streak at 28-23 LSU, but the Tigers continued to the 30-25 victory in game two behind .472 hitting.
Kentucky took a 5-3 advantage to begin game three after a kill by Rapp on the right side. Back-to-back kills by Britenriker and Bartek allowed the Wildcats to extend their lead to four, 11-7. Two consecutive LSU attack errors put the Tigers ahead 14-9 and forced Skinner to use a timeout. Out of the break, LSU scored two points in a row before Rapp registered a kill to spark a 5-0 Kentucky run that was capped off by a Bartek ace and put the Cats ahead 19-11. The Tigers began whittling away at their deficit late in game three and came as close as four, 22-18. With the Wildcats ahead 24-21, Britenriker drilled a kill down the middle to bring the crowd to its feet and put the Cats in front 25-21. Kentucky closed out the 30-26 win off a service error by the Tigers.
LSU broke an 8-all tie in game four with three consecutive kills to go up 11-8. With Kentucky trailing 13-9, Rapp recorded back-to-back kills to slice the deficit in half with the Cats down 13-11. LSU extended its advantage to 18-13 before Kentucky the Wildcats tallied a pair of points, the last a kill by Bartek, to come within three, 18-15. Down 19-15, Rumely, Bartek and Nzenwa each had consecutive kills to cut the UK deficit to one, 19-18.
A kill by Bartek followed by an LSU attack error knotted the score at 20 and caused LSU head coach Fran Flory to call a timeout. Out of the break, Rapp registered a kill on the angle that just found the spot sailing out of bounds to put the Cats ahead 21-20. After six ties, the Wildcats pulled in front 28-26 after two consecutive LSU errors. From there, Nzenwa recorded back-to-back block solos to cap off the 30-26 win.
Kentucky broke a 6-6 tie in game five with a kill by Rapp. After Rapp served an ace on the next play, LSU recorded back-to-back attack errors to put the Wildcats ahead 10-6 and force a Tiger timeout. Rapp served two more points to extend UK’s advantage to 12-6 before three consecutive points by LSU. Leading 13-10, Rumely posted a kill to put the Cats ahead 14-10 before Nzenwa and Rumely registered a resounding block on the right side to end the match, much to the delight of a crowd of 1,087.
Kentucky returns to action this weekend when it travels to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Starkville, Miss., for a pair of Western Division match-ups. The Wildcats face Alabama at 8 p.m. Friday and Mississippi State at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Live statistics will be available at ukathletics.com. Sunday’s match will be televised live on Fox Sports Net South.