Wildcats Sweep Mississippi State, 3-0
Junior middle blocker Nicole Britenriker posted a match-high 16 kills on Sunday, Oct. 29, and Kentucky extended its winning streak against Mississippi State to 14 matches with a 3-0 (30-27, 30-24, 30-26) win in Memorial Coliseum.
The Wildcats, who now own a 32-1 advantage in the all-time series with the Bulldogs, improve to 14-8 overall and 7-7 in the Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State drops to 14-10 overall and 5-9 in the league.
Britenriker’s 16 kills came on .440 hitting to complement nine digs – one scoop shy of her 11th double-double of the season – and three blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Ashlee Fisher, freshman outside hitter Heather Hausfeld and sophomore middle blocker Queen Nzenwa each added nine kills for the Wildcats as part of a balanced offensive attack. The Wildcats out-hit the Bulldogs .280-.242 and benefited from six service aces.
Freshman setter Sarah Rumely dished out a squad-best 40 assists, while senior libero Jenni Casper led the defensive effort with a match-best 18 digs.
“I’m proud of our players for being very consistent in this match,” said head coach Craig Skinner. “They didn’t back down at all today, offensively or defensively, and that’s important against a strong offensive team like Mississippi State.”
The two teams battled evenly to begin the first game with Kentucky breaking to a 12-10 advantage on an emphatic kill by Nzenwa down the middle. The Wildcats benefited from a pair of Mississippi State errors to extend their advantage to 17-13, which prompted a timeout by the Bulldogs. Back-to-back kills by Hausfeld and Britenriker took UK to the 20-point mark at 20-15 before Mississippi State rallied to come within one, 21-20. From there, the teams fought closely with the Bulldogs tying the score at 26 and again at 27. A put-down from Fisher broke the 27-all tie before two errors by Mississippi State gave Kentucky the game one win at 30-27.
Kentucky took an early 10-5 advantage in the second game after four consecutive kills by the hot-hitting Britenriker. A kill by Fisher on the outside extended UK’s advantage to 13-8 and the Wildcats kept rolling to a 16-12 advantage on a powerful kill by Hausfeld on the angle. An block by sophomore right side hitter Tess Edwards and Britenriker, followed by a service ace from freshman BriAnne Sauer capped a 4-0 run and put UK ahead 18-12. The Cats kept adding to their lead, going ahead 26-21 after back-to-back kills by Nzenwa and Edwards. UK took a 30-24 win in game two.
In game three, Kentucky broke a 6-6 tie with a 5-0 run that included two kills from Hausfeld and an ace by senior Julie Gagnon. A Mississippi State kill and back-to-back attack errors by the Wildcats brought the Bulldogs within two, 11-9, but Kentucky extended its advantage back out to five, 17-12, on a triumphant kill by Nzenwa. Another service ace by Sauer put UK ahead 21-15 and the Cats kept rolling to a 27-20 lead capped by a kill by Fisher. UK continued to add to its advantage and held on for the 30-26 game-three victory and the win.
Kentucky returns to action Wednesday, Nov. 1, when it travels to Knoxville, Tenn., to face the Lady Vols. Opening serve in Stokely Athletics Center is set for 7 p.m. ET.