Wildcats Fall to Vols on Senior Day
The Kentucky volleyball team hung tough with Tennessee on Senior Day but errors proved costly in a 3-0 (31-29, 31-29, 30-28) loss to the Lady Vols in Memorial Coliseum Sunday. Three Wildcats tallied double-figure kills but it wasn’t enough in a match that saw 32 ties and 12 lead changes.
Tennessee (16-7, 10-3 Southeastern Conference) out-hit the Wildcats (16-8, 9-5 SEC) .131-.118 in the match, but the Cats registered 31 attack errors and 10 service errors. Freshman outside hitter Ashlee Fisher led the way for UK with a match-high 13 kills, while senior outside hitter Danielle Wallace added 12 put-downs. Senior middle blocker Amy Kaplan posted 10 kills and four blocks.
Freshman Queen Nzenwa hit a match-high .357 with a squad-best five blocks. Three Wildcats notched double-figure digs as juniors Jenni Casper and Julie Gagnon each had 18 scoops. Fellow junior Melissa Popp added 12 digs to highlight a balanced Kentucky defensive effort.
“I thought that physically we were right there with Tennessee, we just have to prove it mentally there at the end,” UK Coach Craig Skinner said. “This is a competitive group and when we are able to get over that hurdle of closing out close games that will be a huge step for our program.”
The Wildcats raced to a 5-1 advantage capped off by a kill from Popp and UK kept adding to its lead to pull ahead 10-3. From there, Tennessee began chipping away at the Kentucky advantage to come within 12-9 on a service error by Popp. An attack error by Wallace tied the score at 13 before the Lady Vols pulled ahead for the first time in the match, 15-14.
After five more ties, back-to-back kills by Wallace and Kaplan moved Kentucky in front 23-21. The Wildcats led by as many as three, 25-22, late in the match but Tennessee tied the score at 25. After four more ties, the Lady Vols escaped with a 31-29 game-one victory. Neither team was effective offensively in the opening game with UT out-hitting Kentucky .130-.104. The Cats committed 19 total errors to the Lady Vols’ 11.
The two teams battled evenly to begin the second game, but the Lady Vols took a 6-5 lead on a kill by Joselyn Johnson. Tennessee kept adding to its lead to pull in front 11-6 on an attack error by Popp that forced a UK timeout. The Lady Vols went ahead 19-11 on a Kentucky setting error, but from there the Cats went on a 9-1 run to come within one point, 20-19, on a Tennessee attack error.
Kentucky took its first lead since early in the match when it moved ahead 26-25, but the Lady Vols tied the score at 26. A service ace by Annie Sadowski closed out the second frame to give UT a 31-29 victory. The Lady Vols entered the locker room leading the match 2-0.
Kentucky took command early in the third game, breaking to a 12-8 lead on a resounding block solo by Wallace on the right side. A put-down by Kaplan extended the Cats’ lead to 16-13. Tennessee scored the game’s next two points but a kill by Fisher stopped the scoring drought. The Lady Vols evened the score at 17 before they went in front 19-18.
After two more ties, the Wildcats went in front 24-20 highlighted by a Casper ace leading into a UT timeout. UK kept rolling to a 27-24 advantage before the Lady Vols reeled off five of the next six points. After a tie at 28, Tennessee scored the next two points to take the game, 30-28, and the match. Three late kills by Louisville, Ky., native Mindy Flynn propelled UT to the victory.
Kentucky returns to action Friday, Nov. 11 when it travels to Baton Rouge, La., to face the LSU Tigers. Opening serve is set for 8 p.m. EST and live statistics will be available on ukathletics.com.