Wildcats Fall in In-State Battle with No. 23 Louisville
Kentucky stayed with No. 23 Louisville, but was unable to upset the visiting Cardinals, falling 3-0 Tuesday evening in Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats fall to 12-14 on the season, while the Cardinals improve to 23-2.
Sarah Spinner led Kentucky in her final home match with 14 kills on .333 hitting and a team-high 10 digs. Alex Montefalco added 13 kills, while Danielle Wallace had 12 putdowns on .265 hitting. Setter Leigh Marcum had her fifth double-double of the year with 43 assists and 10 digs. Louisville’s Lena Ustymenko drew much of the attention on the evening, however, after totaling 24 kills on .537 hitting.
The teams battled evenly for the first few points of the match, as the Wildcats tied the score at five on a resounding putdown by Spinner. Louisville then went on a 5-0 run to take a 10-5 advantage on back-to-back kills, forcing to burn an early timeout. The Cardinals kept rolling from there to take a 17-8 lead, before three kills by Spinner in four plays allowed the Cats to cut the deficit to eight, 19-11. Kaplan registered a kill and followed with a service ace to cut the lead to 11at 27-16, but Louisville was able to close out the game for a 30-19 victory. Louisville hit .541 in the game, while the Wildcats hit a respectable .216.
The second game was closely contested early on and the Wildcats tied the score at eight on a soft-touch kill by Wallace. An illegal contact call against the Cards on the ensuing possession gave Kentucky its first lead of the game at 9-8. With the score tied at 11, three consecutive kills by Spinner, capped off by an angle shot that found the corner of the court, gave Kentucky a 14-11 advantage.
Back-to-back aces from Spinner put UK up 19-13. The Cardinals trimmed the advantage to four, 25-21, on two consecutive kills and a Spinner attack error. Louisville was able to trim the lead to two at 25-23, but a back-handed dink by Marcum ended the slide. Kentucky reached game point, but the Cards staved off two attempts to tie the score at 29. A Louisville service ace and an attack error by Wallace gave the Cardinals a 31-29 game-two victory.
Louisville raced to a 6-1 lead in the third game, forcing Kentucky to use another timeout. Montefalco registered a kill out of the break to stop the rally and the Cats were able to creep within three, 9-6, on a kill by Spinner. The Cardinals ran off four consecutive points to pull ahead 14-8. A kill by Montefalco off the block and a UK block on the next play cut the Louisville advantage to five, 16-11. An attack error from Spinner allowed the Cards to take a 20-13 lead, but she followed the error with a crafty angle shot for a kill. A shallow putdown by Wallace brought the crowd to its feet with UK trailing 21-16. The Cardinals, however, did not let up and were able to close the game on a 9-2 run for the 30-18 win.
Kentucky returns to action Friday when it travels to Auburn, Ala., to face the Auburn Tigers at 8 p.m. EST.