Volleyball Cats Sweep Bulldogs, 3-0, in Starkville
The Kentucky volleyball team moved to 14-7 on the season and 7-4 in Southeastern Conference play after earning a 3-0 victory over Mississippi State in Starkville Friday night. The Wildcats seven league wins are their most since a 7-9 record in 1998.
Kentucky (14-7, 7-4 SEC) was led by Danielle Wallace, who finished with 14 kills on .333 hitting. Ashlee Fisher had 11 kills on .241 hitting, while junior Melissa Popp hit .400 for the night with eight kills and 13 digs. Jenni Casper had 15 digs and Alisa Pierce added 11 for UK’s defense. Freshman Queen Nzenwa had five blocks and five kills in the win.
“Mississippi State is the best serving team in the conference,” UK Coach Craig Skinner said. “Our passers and our outside hitters – Ashlee, Danielle and Melissa – were the reason why we were successful today.”
Kentucky opened the first game with a Gagnon ace, but MSU quickly tied with a kill from Erin Seago. The score had two more early ties before the Bulldogs stretched out to a three-point lead at 9-6 on a kill form Orshi Kriegel. The Wildcats managed to even the score at 11.
Six more ties ensued in a tight game but the Wildcats were able to come out on top, earning a late 22-19 lead. The Dawgs threatened again at 22-21 on a kill from Kriegel, but UK pulled away, closing the game on a 4-1 run for a 30-24 victory. Kentucky hit .222 in the first game as Fisher had five kills and Marcum added five digs.
Kentucky had much more control in game two, pushing out to an early 8-4 lead following a block from Nzenwa and Fisher. Mississippi State used a timeout, but the Wildcats continued to control the pace, extending the lead to eight at 22-14 on a Marcum dump. MSU took another timeout, this one proving to change the momentum.
The Bulldogs went on a 7-1 run after the break, cutting the UK lead to two at 23-21 after back-to-back aces. Strong play from Kaplan and Wallace kept Kentucky on top late. Kentucky took the win when a dink by Fisher slid the length of the net and fell into Bulldog territory for the 30-27 victory.
After falling behind 2-1 early in the third game, UK took a 7-3 lead on an Nzenwa block to force MSU to use its first timeout. Later in the game, with UK leading 12-10, the Wildcats went on an 11-0 run to push the score to 23-10. The Bulldogs used a 5-0 run late to cut the lead to ten at 27-17, but Kentucky finished strong, going on match point with a MSU hitting error. After a kill from State’s Kelly Willinger, Kentucky closed out with a 30-18 victory.
Kentucky continues its road weekend, facing the Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford, Miss., on Sunday, Oct. 30. The match begins at 1:30 p.m. CT.