Wildcats Drop Heartbreaker to LSU, 3-2
Senior Amy Kaplan had 16 kills on .483 hitting and added six blocks, but it wasn’t enough as Kentucky fell, 3-2, to LSU in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La., Friday night. Fellow senior Leigh Marcum had seven kills on .467 hitting, 54 assists, 13 digs and six blocks in a match that saw 44 ties and 20 lead changes, and junior Jenni Casper had a career-high 36 digs.
Kentucky (16-9, 9-6 SEC) was led in kills by Danielle Wallace with 26 put-downs on .316 hitting, while Ashlee Fisher added 13 kills. Junior Julie Gagnon added 16 digs and Alisa Pierce had 11 scoops in the five-game match. Overall, Kentucky hit .206 to LSU’s .205, but was out-blocked 14.0-11.5. The Wildcats split the season series with the Tigers after earning a 3-1 victory in Lexington on Oct. 9.
“I’m proud of the team and the way they came back and fought tonight,” UK Coach Craig Skinner said. “They played hard the last three games. They showed some toughness we haven’t seen before. We have to learn to find a way to come out stronger on the road.”
“We’ll need to come out stronger against Arkansas to come out with a victory.”
The Wildcats fell behind 0-3 to start the match, but rallied to tie the score at 3-3. LSU was able to keep a two to three-point cushion through most of the game, but UK managed to even the score at 14 on a solo block by Kaplan. From there, the teams fought through nine more ties before the Tigers went up 27-25 on a controversial four hits call on the Cats.
After a UK timeout, Marcum was whistled for a setting error and Skinner quickly called his final timeout. A kill from LSU put the Tigers on game point, but UK held them off with a block by Fisher and Nzenwa. However, the Tigers sealed the game, 30-26, with a kill on the next rally. Kentucky hit .143 in the game and had six kills from Wallace.
Kentucky allowed LSU to build a 5-1 lead early in the second game, but used a 4-0 run to even the score at 5-5. After three more ties, UK worked up to a three point lead at 10-7 on a kill from Kaplan. After an LSU timeout, the Tigers took advantage of UK hitting errors to even the score at 11.
The game later saw ties at 12, 15, 18 and 20 before a 5-0 Tiger run put LSU up 25-20. Kentucky had six errors on the final 11 plays to give LSU a 30-23 win. The Wildcats hit just .065 in the second game to LSU’s .262.
The Wildcats got off on the right foot in game three, taking an early 5-0 lead. UK stretched the lead to six at 13-7, forcing an LSU timeout after back-to-back kills by Fisher. Kentucky cruised on to lead 20-9 on a kill from Kaplan and later closed the 30-21 victory with another shot from the senior. UK hit .474 in the third game.
After two early ties in the fourth game, Kentucky built to a 9-5 lead on a serving error by LSU. LSU fought back taking kills on three of the next four plays to tie the score at 9-9. After ties at the next four points, UK used a 6-2 run to lead 19-15. The Tigers wouldn’t back down, however, fighting to tie the score at 21 before taking a 23-21 lead to force a UK timeout.
UK took the next two points to even the score at 23. After ties at 25 and 26, Wallace put down a kill and LSU had an attack error to give the Wildcats a 28-26 lead and force an LSU timeout. The Tigers rebounded with a kill, but a shot from Wallace put UK on game point. The Tigers held UK off with another kill, but a kill from Kaplan would seal the 30-28 win and force a fifth game.
After a quick tie at 1-1, Kentucky fell behind 1-3 after back-to-back errors from Wallace. UK rallied to tie the score at four. After another tie at 5-5, the Cats took an 8-6 lead on an LSU serving error. The Tigers tied the score at eight and after a tie at nine, LSU took two straight points to lead 11-9.
Kentucky used a timeout and came back to the floor focused. The Wildcats took four of the next five points to lead 13-12 and force a Tiger timeout. LSU tied the game again after a lift was called on a Kaplan dig. A dig under the net for UK put the home team on match point, 14-13, but Kaplan killed the next ball to even the score once again. A block from Fisher and Kaplan put UK on game point at 15-14, but LSU sunk another kill to tie the score at 15.
A ball-handling error on Marcum put the score at 16-15 Tigers, but Kaplan wouldn’t stop fighting, tying the score again at 16 with a cross-court shot. After another tie at 17, LSU went on game point with a kill from Melody Clark before an errant attack by Fisher gave the Tigers the game, 19-17, and the match victory.
Kentucky closes regular-season SEC play against Arkansas Sunday in Fayetteville. Opening serve is set for 1:30 p.m. CT and live stats will be available on ukathletics.com.