Wildcats Fall to Tigers, 3-1
The Kentucky volleyball team dropped its third consecutive match with a 3-1 loss to LSU on Sunday afternoon in Baton Rouge, La. The Wildcats lost the match despite out-hitting the Tigers, .205-.204.
Kentucky (11-10, 2-8 SEC) was led by junior Amy Kaplan with 15 kills on .344 hitting and eight blocks. Sophomore Melissa Popp came off the bench to add 11 kills and 10 digs, while Danielle Wallace had 13 kills and a career-best seven blocks. Jenni Casper led the back-row defensive effort with 22 digs.
The Wildcats took two quick points to open the match, including an ace from Spinner before the Tigers fought back to tie the score at two. Five more ties followed before LSU built to a 13-9 lead after back to back aces from Jelena Mijatovic. LSU continued to hammer away from there, taking a six-point advantage at 18-12. The Wildcats were able to cut the lead to two on a shot from Spinner, but LSU wouldn’t back down and eventually stretched to a 27-21 lead, forcing a Kentucky timeout.
The Tigers came back from the timeout to take points on consecutive jousts at the net, before Spinner landed another kill to hold off game point. Mijatovic, however, claimed her fifth kill of the game off the UK block to hand the home team a 30-22 victory. Kentucky hit just .206 to LSU’s .382, while Spinner had six kills on .400 hitting in the opening game.
Neither team could put a run together early in the second game as the teams were knotted at nearly every point. LSU was finally able to take a two-point lead at 17-15 after an attack error from Kaplan, but it wasn’t long before the Wildcats tied the score again at 19. Mijatovic nailed a kill and followed with an ace to put LSU up 21-19 and forced a Wildcat timeout. The Tigers returned from the timeout and continued to control the tempo, building to a 25-20 lead.
Back-to-back kills from Montefalco and Kaplan later in the game cut the LSU lead to two at 26-24 and forced the Tigers to talk it over. Kaplan tipped another one over after the break to take it to one before a kill from Montefalco tied the score at 26. Kaplan hit one off the block to give the Cats the lead, but LSU followed with a shot from Regan Hood down the middle evened the score again at 27. An error from Kentucky and a service error by LSU knotted the score at 28 before a misplaced UK block put the Tigers on game point.
Kaplan again came through with a kill to tie the score at 29, before an LSU error put UK on game point at 30-29. An LSU timeout proved beneficial as the Tigers posted back-to-back blocks to go on game point at 31-30. Kentucky saved the game after a timeout after a long shot from the Tigers, but Mijatovic put LSU up again with a kill. Another block from Melody Clark and Ivana Kuzmic gave LSU the go-ahead game at 33-31.
Kentucky juggled the lineup to start the third game, inserting Leigh Marcum at setter, while Melissa Popp started in the back row. LSU continued to dominate play though, jutting out to a 6-2 lead with back-to-back kills from Mikulik. After consecutive errors from the Wildcats, the Tiger lead stood at 11-5, forcing a Kentucky timeout. UK stayed in the hunt, using a kill from Wallace and consecutive blocks from Wallace and Cunningham to cut the lead to one at 14-13.
A later kill from Popp tied the game at 15, before a block from Wallace and Kaplan gave Kentucky a 16-15 lead. Several more ties ensued before UK took a 22-20 edge after a serving error from LSU and an ace by Kaplan. LSU whistled for a timeout and came back strong, taking the next two points to even the score. After ties at the next three points, Kuzmic and Hood combined for consecutive kills to give LSU a 27-25 lead.
Following another Wildcat timeout, LSU got pinned with a net violation on Kuzmic before Kentucky blocked a shot from the junior transfer to even the score at 27. Three more ties followed before a blocking error on LSU put UK up 31-30. Popp then forced a ball deep for the game-winning kill. Popp had eight kills on .500 hitting in the game to lead Kentucky.
The Wildcats earned a 4-1 lead to start the fourth game, but LSU quickly evened the score with a 3-0 run. UK followed with a 7-1 run of its own to lead 11-5. Three consecutive kills by the Tigers cut the lead to three and forced a UK timeout. Kentucky returned to form, keeping a steady lead over the home team for much of the game. Unforced Wildcat errors allowed LSU to tie the game at 20 before an attack error on Popp put the Tigers ahead 21-20.
A lift on LSU tied the score at 21 and the teams met at each of the next four points. LSU earned a 27-25 lead, but followed with a service error. Kentucky added an serving error of its own to give LSU a 28-26 advantage, but Kaplan took a kill to put the score at 28-27. A Mijatovic kill followed, putting LSU on match point and the Tigers blocked a shot from Popp to win the match, 30-27.
The Cats return continue SEC action on Friday, Oct. 29 when they host the 17th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols at 7 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats follow with South Carolina on Sunday, Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. The match will be Senior Day for Kentucky’s Sarah Spinner and Katie Bright.