Volleyball Drops Four-Game Match to Ole Miss
OXFORD, Miss. -- The Kentucky volleyball team was denied its 20th victory of the season Sunday for the second consecutive match, falling in a hard-fought four-game contest (31-33, 25-30, 30-27, 39-41) to Ole Miss at the Gillom Sports Center.
The Wildcats (19-8, 10-6 Southeastern Conference) were led by senior middle blocker Nicole Britenriker (Cincinnati, Ohio), who eclipsed the 20-kill plateau for the third consecutive match with 20 kills to complement 13 digs for her team-leading 18th double-double of the season. Sophomore setter Sarah Rumely (New Palestine, Ind.) dished out a squad-best 56 assists and tied her career-high with 18 digs to complement 10 kills on .429 hitting and six blocks.
Freshman right-side hitter Lauren Rapp (Indianapolis, Ind.) was strong down the stretch, recording a career-high 15 kills to go along with seven digs and four blocks. Freshman outside hitter Sarah Mendoza (Winter Park, Fla.) was the fourth Wildcat in double-digit kills with 11 put-downs. Junior middle blocker Queen Nzenwa (Baltimore, Md.) had nine kills and a squad-best seven blocks.
The Wildcats out-hit Ole Miss .234-.216 and out-blocked the Rebels 17-11 in the match.
The two teams battled evenly to begin the opening game before the Rebels broke a 12-all tie with back-to-back points to go up 14-12. A kill by Nzenwa and an attack error by Ole Miss' Katie Kramer allowed the Wildcats to knot the score at 15-15 before Rapp crushed a free ball on the right side for a kill to give UK a 16-15 advantage. Kentucky extended the run to 5-0 to go up 18-15, but Ole Miss responded with three consecutive points to tie the score at 18-18 and force UK head coach Craig Skinner to burn a timeout.
Following two more ties, a Rebel attack error and a kill by Mendoza on the outside allowed the Cats to regain the advantage at 22-20. A crafty put-down by Rumely on second contact and a setting error against Ole Miss' Rachel Kieckhaefer widened UK's lead to 25-22 and caused the Rebels to use a late timeout. From there, the Rebels whittled their deficit to one, 28-27, heading into a Kentucky break. A kill by Britenriker put the Cats at game point at 29-27, but Ole Miss staved off two attempts at game point to tie the score at 29-all. After two more ties, the Rebels took a 33-31 win in game one as Brooke Bartek's (Lincoln, Neb.) attack hit the antenna on game point.
Ole Miss raced out to a 4-1 advantage to open game two. With the Cats trailing 7-4, Rumely teamed with Britenriker and Nzenwa for blocks on back-to-back plays and a lift was called on Ole Miss to cap off a 3-0 run and knot the score at 7-7. Three consecutive Kentucky errors allowed the Rebels to extend their advantage to 12-8 and forced a timeout by the Wildcats. Ole Miss kept rolling to a 15-11 lead before a ball-handling error against the Rebels sparked a 4-1 run by the Cats that brought them within one, 16-15. Ole Miss widened its margin out to 21-17 heading into another Kentucky timeout. The Rebels had no trouble closing out the 30-25 victory in game two.
Kentucky and Ole Miss fought closely to begin the third frame before the Rebels took an 8-5 advantage on back-to-back kills. Consecutive put-downs by Britenriker and Mendoza allowed the Wildcats to tie the score at 10-10, but the Rebels opened their lead back up to 17-13 on an attack error by Rapp. Kentucky cut within two, 19-17, on a put-down by Britenriker but Kramer responded with a kill on the outside for the Rebels.
A Mendoza kill and a service ace from Sauer brought the Cats as close as one, 20-19. Kentucky kept rallying and tied the score at 22-all on an Ole Miss attack error. A block by Nzenwa and Rapp on the right side put UK ahead 23-22 and forced UM coach Joe Getzin to burn a timeout. Back-to-back blocks on the outside by Bartek and Nzenwa extended the Wildcats' advantage to 25-22. The Rebels closed within one, 26-25, before an Ole Miss service error stopped the streak. A put-down by Mendoza on the outside brought UK to game point at 29-27, and a Rumely kill closed out the 30-27 game-three win.
Ole Miss led 5-4 early in game four before the Wildcats used a 4-0 run that included two kills from Britenriker and was capped off by a block solo by Bartek. Kentucky extended its advantage to 10-7 after a block solo and a kill by Rumely. The Rebels used a 4-1 run to tie the score at 11, but the Wildcats responded with back-to-back points, including a Bartek ace to go back in front 13-11. With Kentucky leading 16-13, Ole Miss cut within one, 16-15, and knotted the score at 17-all.
After two more ties, the Rebels scored two consecutive to take a 21-19 lead heading into a UK timeout. Ole Miss' Lauren Moffett registered a kill to widen the Rebels' lead to 25-22. Kentucky used a kill by Bartek and a block by Nzenwa and Rapp to come as close as one, 28-27. A kill by Nzenwa and a block solo by Mendoza allowed UK to stave off two Ole Miss attempts at match point and tied the score at 29-all. An attack error by Kramer put UK up 30-29. After 10 more ties, the Rebels closed out the 41-39 win in a back-and-forth game four.
Kentucky returns to action on Friday when it plays host to South Carolina. Opening serve in Memorial Coliseum is set for 7 p.m. EDT and the Wildcats will be looking to sweep the season series with the Gamecocks for the third time in four years. Live statistics will be available at ukathletics.com with live video available through Extreme Access.
Complete results and a recap of Friday's match will be available at ukathletics.com.