Kentucky Sweeps Season Series with South Carolina
The Kentucky volleyball team swept the season series with South Carolina for the first time since 1993 by posting a 3-2 (24-30, 20-30, 30-23, 36-34, 15-12) victory for Senior Day Sunday, powered by a late comeback effort in Memorial Coliseum.
The Wildcats (12-11, 3-9 Southeastern Conference) were led by outside hitter Alex Montefalco’s game-high 19 kills on .205 hitting. Amy Kaplan added 17 kills on .394 hitting, while Sarah Spinner and Danielle Wallace each had 10 putdowns. Julie Gagnon tied her career-high with 13 digs in the match, while setter Leigh Marcum dished out 53 assists and posted 12 digs for the Cats.
South Carolina broke to a 5-2 lead in the first game before Kentucky rallied to come within three, 11-8, on a service ace by Spinner. The Wildcats then went on a 5-2 run to tie the score at 13 as Spinner found Montefalco for a kill. UK took its first lead of the match at 14-13 on an attack error by USC’s Lauren Ford. The Gamecocks were able to run away from the Cats and pull to a 26-22 advantage before a kill by Spinner ended the drought. An attack error by Montefalco brought USC to game point. A soft-touch kill by Kaplan down the middle staved off one USC attempt at the game, but the Gamecocks were able to close out the 30-24 victory.
The two teams battled evenly to begin the second game before South Carolina took an 11-9 lead after back-to-back unforced errors by the Wildcats. They extended their lead to 16-13 on an attack error by Spinner, but a kill by Wallace stopped the rally. The Gamecocks continued rolling and took a 24-16 advantage on a block by Shonda Cole and Nicole Miller. A South Carolina service error brought the score to 28-19, but South Carolina was able to suppress the UK rally for a 30-20 win. Kentucky hit -.028 in the second frame, while the Gamecocks hit .229.
Kentucky took an early 3-0 advantage in the third stanza before the Gamecocks rallied to come within one, 5-4. The Wildcats were able to regroup and take an 8-5 lead on a sharp kill by Kristen Cunningham down the middle. UK extended its advantage to five, 15-10, on a kill by Kaplan off the block. With the Cats leading 20-13, South Carolina went on a 7-4 run capped off by a block from Ford and Katelyn Panzau to pull it to within four, 24-20. Out of a timeout, two kills by Gagnon, including the conversion of a tough set by Casper gave UK a 26-21 lead. The Gamecocks hung tough, but an ace by Casper pulled the Cats ahead, 28-22, and Kentucky closed out the 30-23 win on a net violation by USC.
South Carolina broke out to a 7-5 lead in game four and extended its lead to 13-9 before a kill by Montefalco ended the drought. Montefalco then served two consecutive aces to bring the Cats to within one at 13-12, but the Gamecocks put together an 8-4 run to take a 21-16 lead and force a UK timeout. The Wildcats regrouped out of the timeout with back-to-back kills by Cunningham and Wallace, which caused USC to burn a timeout.
Down 27-22, UK rallied after by two consecutive attack errors by South Carolina. A later ace by Marcum tied the score at 27 before the Cats pulled ahead on a kill by Spinner. The teams battled tightly and extended the match. After seven more ties, Spinner grabbed a kill and USC’s Miller had an attack error to give UK the 36-34 match-tying win. Montefalco had six kills in the game to lead Kentucky.
Two kills by Montefalco and a service ace by Gagnon gave the Wildcats a 5-2 advantage early in the deciding game, forcing South Carolina to burn a timeout. Out of the timeout, Kaplan registered a kill and then teamed with Spinner to post a resounding block that brought the crowd to its feet. The Gamecocks cut the lead to 7-6 after three consecutive kills and UK coach Jona Braden called a timeout to regroup her team. From there, Kentucky went on a 3-1 run capped off by a crafty dink by Marcum for a kill. A kill down the middle by Kaplan brought the Cats to match point before the Gamecocks ran off two consecutive points forcing another timeout. A kill by Kaplan on the opposite side ended the game, giving UK the 15-12 victory.
Kentucky returns to action on Friday, Nov. 5, when it travels to Gainesville, Fla., to face No. 6 Florida. Opening serve is set for 7 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’ Connell Center and fans can follow all of the action with live stats on www.ukathletics.com.