Volleyball Falls in Five at South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of Kentucky volleyball team snapped a four-game winning streak tonight, Nov. 10, falling 3-2 (27-30, 30-20, 25-30, 31-20, 15-12) at South Carolina. The Wildcats are now 16-9 on the year and 9-8 in the Southeastern Conference, while USC improves to 13-15 overall with a 6-11 mark in league play.
Sophomore Queen Nzenwa led three Wildcats who reached double-figures in kills with 16 putdowns to go along with four blocks. Fellow sophomore Ashlee Fisher added 13 kills, while senior Melissa Popp recorded 10 kills in the loss. Freshman Sarah Rumely led the team with 15 digs and 46 assists to complement eight kills, while senior Jenni Casper had 14 digs on the night.
USC opened game one with a 6-1 run which the Wildcats eventually stopped on a kill by Ashlee Fisher. The Gamecocks pushed their lead to six at 10-4 on back-to-back service aces by Shonda Cole, but a powerful kill by Nzenwa down the middle followed by an ace by BriAnne Sauer made it a 10-6 USC lead. The Cats scored three straight points on a Gamecock service error and kills by Britenriker and Rumely to pull within two at 11-9. With USC leading by three, 16-13, the Cats railed off four straight points on kills by Natalie Marsh and Heather Hausfeld. Those kills, coupled with a pair of USC hitting errors, gave the Cats their first lead of the game at 17-16 and forced a Gamecock timeout.
USC would not back down and went ahead 20-18 after a 4-1 run to force a Kentucky timeout. USC scored four straight out of the break to take a 24-19 lead to cause the Cats to burn their final timeout of the game. The Gamecocks pushed their lead to five at 26-19, but the Wildcats scratched their way back thanks to three straight USC errors to trail by four at 26-22. The Gamecocks took a 28-23 lead before a kill by Nzenwa pulled Kentucky within four at 28-24. A kill by USC’s Cole made it 29-24 and the Cats fended off three match points before eventually dropping the first game by a final of 30-27.
The Gamecocks opened the second game on an 8-2 run, but the Wildcats answered with an 8-2 run of their own to tie the score at 10-10. USC then scored four unanswered to take a 14-10 lead after two straight Kentucky net violations which forced a Wildcat timeout. The Gamecocks led by six, 18-12, when the Cats scored three straight on a back-to-back kills by Rumley and Fisher and an ace by Britenriker to pull within three at 18-15. The Wildcats continued to rally to tie the score at 18-18.
USC took a one-point lead, 19-18, but the Cats had the answer again and scored seven straight behind the strength of kills by Rumely, Fisher and Erin Turner. A block assist by Nzenwa and Fisher, followed by an ace by Rumely gave UK a 25-19 advantage. A USC block made it a 25-20 Kentucky lead, but the Cats scored five straight points on a kill down the middle by Nzenwa and a flurry of USC errors to take the second game by a score of 30-20. The Cats outscored USC 18-2 down the stretch and outhit the Gamecocks .200 to -.065 in the second game.
The two teams played evenly in game three in a game that saw 10 ties early. With the score knotted at 16, South Carolina scored eight straight to take a 23-16 and force the Wildcats to call a timeout. A powerful kill down the line by Britenriker made it a 23-17 game. The Cats scored three of the next four points on another kill down the line by Britenriker and a pair of ball handling errors by South Carolina to make it a 24-20 USC lead. A service ace by Jenni Casper cut the Gamecock lead to three at 24-21. The Wildcats continued to trail by three at 25-22, after a kill by Britenriker, but a pair of kills by Cole made it a five-point USC lead at 27-22. The Cats cut the lead to three again at 28-25 after a Gamecock hitting error and a kill down the line by Turner, but a service error by Melissa Popp and an ace by Cole gave USC the 30-25 win in game three. South Carolina outhit the Wildcats .258-.023 in the third set.
In game four, the Wildcats opened with an early 6-3 lead on a pair of kills by Nzenwa and Fisher and a service ace by Rumely. The Gamecocks pulled to within one at 8-7 on a UK hitting error but the Cats pushed their lead back to three, 10-7, on a kill by Popp. South Carolina put together a 9-2 run to take a 16-13 lead and force a Kentucky timeout. A USC hitting error and a block by Turner and Nzenwa made it a one-point game, 16-15, and forced the Gamecocks to call a timeout of their own. USC made it a 17-15 lead but the Widlcats tied the score at 17-17 on a kill by Nznewa.
The score remained tied at 23-23 until the Gamecocks scored two straight on a kill and a hitting error by Fisher to take a 25-23 lead and force the Wildcats to burn a timeout. USC pushed its lead to as many as five, 27-23, and had the chance to win it leading 29-25. The Wildcats scored six straight points, capped by three consecutive kills by Popp, to rally to win game four by a score of 31-29 and force the fifth and final game.
A pair of kills by Nzenwa and Casper’s second service ace of the match helped give Kentucky an early 4-1 lead in game five. Carolina recorded three straight kills to pull within one, 5-4, before a service error gave Kentucky the two-point edge at 6-4. A kill by Cole and a hitting error by Britenriker tied the score at 6-6 and caused the Cats to call for time. The score was tied again at 7-7 after a USC kill and service error. The Gamecocks pushed their lead to three, 11-8, causing UK to use its final timeout. A powerful put-down by Fisher made it a two-point game, 11-9, but USC scored the next two on a Kentucky service error and a block assist to take a 13-9 advantage. The Wildcats cut the lead to a point on a kill by Fisher and back-to-back South Carolina hitting errors but that was as close as they would come as the Gamecocks took game five by a score of 15-12.
The Wildcats return to action Sunday, Nov. 12, when they travel to take on Georgia. Game time is set for 2 p.m. in Athens.