Volleyball Drops 3-1 Decision at Arkansas
The University of Kentucky volleyball team fell 3-1 (23-30, 30-28, 21-30, 28-30) at Arkansas today, Oct. 22, to move to 12-8 on the year and 5-7 in the Southeastern Conference. The Lady ‘Backs match the Wildcats with an identical record (12-8, 5-7 SEC) with the win to even the season series. UK took the earlier match in Lexington on Sept. 15 by a final of 3-0.
Sophomore Ashlee Fisher led the Wildcat offense for the fourth straight match with a team-high 17 kills on .263 hitting. Junior Nicole Britenriker added her team-leading ninth double-double with 10 kills and to go along with seven blocks. Senior libero Jenni Casper led the team in digs for the 17th time this season, recording a match-high 21 scoops on the day. Freshman setter Sarah Rumely had 43 assists, 10 digs, three blocks and two kills. Freshman Heather Hausfeld added nine kills, four blocks and three digs for the Cats.
The Lady Backs jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the opening game and forced an early Kentucky timeout. Arkansas pushed its lead to seven at 12-5 before the Wildcats answered with a 4-0 run behind a kill and ace by Britenriker to make it a 12-9 game. Arkansas continued to lead by three at 15-12 and pushed its led to six with a 4-0 run to take an 18-12 lead and force a second UK timeout. The Cats pulled to within four at 18-14 after to straight Arkansas hitting errors but saw the Lady Backs pull away to a 21-14 lead. Kentucky battled back with two kills by Britenriker and a put-down by Julie Gagnon to cut the lead to four at 22-18. The Cats trailed by four at 24-20 after a kill by Queen Nzenwa but the Lady Backs outscored UK 6-3 the rest of the way to take game one on a kill by Kele Brewer.
Game two was a see-saw affair to the end. Kentucky opened with a 5-2 lead after a kill by Fisher, a put-down by Nzenwa and three straight hitting errors by Arkansas. UA knotted the score at 5-5, but the Wildcats took an 11-9 lead on another kill by Fisher. An Arkansas kill and a service error by Rumely made it an 11-11 game, but the Cats took the lead again on two attack errors and a ball handling error by the Lady ‘Backs to make it a 15-13 UK lead. With the score tied again at 19-19, the Lady ‘Backs scored three straight to take a 22-19 lead. Kentucky answered with a 3-0 run on a kill by Fisher, an Arkansas error and a kill Hausfeld to tie the score again at 22-22. The Cats and Hogs were knotted at 23 when the Wildcats took its largest lead of the game after a 5-0 run. Three Arkansas hitting errors and a pair of kills by Edwards and Hausfeld capped the run that would put Kentucky on top 28-23. The Hogs attempted one last comeback, pulling to within three at 25-28, but a kill by Hausfeld ended the rally and gave UK the 30-28 win in game two.
The SEC foes played evenly in the early goings of game three and were tied at 7-7 before the Lady Backs made a 5-1 run to take a 12-8 lead and force the Cats to burn a timeout. Kentucky used the break to its advantage and scored four straight behind the hitting of Fisher who had a pair of put-downs in the stretch to tie the score at 12-12. No team led by more than a point until Arkansas took an 18-16 lead. The Hogs pushed their lead to as many as six (22-16) before a service error snapped the scoring drought for Kentucky. The Wildcats would rally to pull to within five at 25-20 on two kills by Fisher and a pair of hitting errors by the Lady Backs, but UA would score six of the next seven points to take the game by a final of 30-21.
A pair of Edwards kills helped the Cats to an early 6-2 lead in game four. The Hogs came back to tie the score at 10-10. UA took a 12-10 lead by UK came back to pull within a point (13-12) on a kill by Nzenwa. The Lady ‘Backs answered with a 4-1 run to take a 17-13 run before a bad set stopped the streak and made it a 17-14 Arkansas lead. UA pushed its lead to five at 20-15 but the Wildcats chipped away and battled back to tie it at 22-22 with kills by Fisher, Nzenwa, Britenriker and Hausfeld. The Hogs took a three-point advantage (25-22) but the Cats would not go away as they pulled to within two at 28-26 on a put-down by Fisher. Trailing 29-27, Fisher hammered another kill to make it a 29-28 game, but a Wildcat hitting error would give Arkansas the game and the match with a 30-28 win in the fourth and final stanza.
The Wildcats return to action this weekend when they host Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Kentucky will face Ole Miss on Friday night, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum.