Wildcats Overpowered by No. 8 Gators.
The Kentucky volleyball team hit a dismal .058 against No. 8 Florida Friday evening in Gainesville’s Stephen C. O’Connell Center in a 3-0 loss (23-30, 23-30, 18-30) to the defending Southeastern Conference champs.
Kentucky (12-12, 3-10 SEC) was led by Alex Montefalco with 10 kills, while Amy Kaplan added seven kills. Kristen Cunningham led the UK blockers for the seventh time this season with six stoppers, while Jenni Casper had 11 digs in the three-game match. Florida (21-2, 13-0 SEC) received great play from Jane Collymore with 10 kills and had a trio of players with double-digit digs.
The Wildcats fell behind 4-0 to start the first game and allowed unforced errors to push the Florida lead to 10 at 23-13. Kentucky was able to close the gap to five points at 28-23 late, but couldn’t hold the Gators any longer. Florida took a 30-23 win on .433 hitting in the game. UK hit just .114 behind five kills from Montefalco.
The second game saw Florida earn a 6-1 lead early, forcing a Kentucky timeout. The Wildcats rallied and cut the Gator lead to one at 9-8 on a kill from Kaplan. The home team used another 4-0 run to stretch back out to a 13-9 lead, but Kentucky countered with a 5-1 run to threaten again at 14-13. The Gators began to rally and went up 27-20 late in the game, forcing another Wildcat timeout.
Florida grabbed a point out of the break on a kill by Michelle Chatman, but Wallace countered with a shot of her own to bring the score to 28-21. After the Gators went on game point, the Wildcats were able to hold them there for a short time before the home team took a 30-23 victory. UF hit just .135 in the game, but still topped Kentucky’s .082 performance.
The Wildcats grabbed their first lead of the night to start game three after a block from Kristen Cunnigham and Spinner. The Cats fought through several ties from there, taking the lead three more times before Florida ran off three in a row to lead 11-8. After a Kentucky timeout, the Cats took two of the next three points, but then let UF take three of the next four points to lead 15-11.
After a kill from Montefalco put the score at 15-12, Florida ripped off four straight points to lead 19-12 and force a UK timeout. Florida returned to take four quick points, including two aces, but Amy Kaplan ended the run with a kill and followed with a service ace. A long attack by the Gators cut the deficit to eight at 23-15, but Florida wasted no time stopping the UK rally and used a 6-1 run to go on match point at 29-16 after a Wallace error.
The Cats held off match point for two rallies, but a kill down the middle from Sherri Williams sealed the NCAA record 143rd-consecutive conference win for the Gators, 30-18.
Kentucky continues its road trip as it travels to Athens, Ga., for a Sunday afternoon battle with the Georgia Bulldogs. Match time is set for 1:30 p.m. ET.