Kentucky Volleyball Sends Seniors Off With Victory
Cats Save Best Performance for Last
The University of Kentucky volleyball team sent its' four seniors off in style by defeating the Tennessee Lady Vols 3-1 (16-14, 13-15, 15-5, 15-11) Sunday afternoon in the Southeastern Conference regular-season finale.
Facing UT (21-7, 9-5 SEC) for the second time in three days, UK (5-20, 3-11 SEC) played its' best match to-date and evened the season series with the Big Orange.
"I am really proud of this team, not only for the performance today, but for the entire season," said UK coach Jona Braden. "It has been a long haul, but this team has stuck together and handled the situation."
Liz McCaslin and April Barnhorst led UK offensively both recording career-high kill numbers. McCaslin posted a team-high 23 kills, while Barnhorst tallied 20 kills on 35 attacks for a .514 hitting percentage.
Playing her last game inside the friendly confines of Memorial Coliseum, Megan Weiskircher notched her team-leading tenth double-double of the season with 18 kills and 15 digs. Whitney Sample, who recently surpassed the 2,000 assist milestone, established her career-high with 78 helpers.
Trailing 7-2 in game one, the Cats slowly chipped away at UT's lead. UK had trimmed the deficit to four at 10-6 when the Lady Vols strung together three consecutive points and seemed poised to take the opening game. However, the spirited UK squad refused to fold. The Big Blue took the next four points to shrink UT's lead to 13-11. The Lady Vols earned a side-out, then captured their fourteenth point and served for the match. With their backs up against the wall, the Cats rallied to fight off six game points before winning three straight points to even the game at 14. With UT's spirit obviously broken, UK took the final two points of the game to win 16-14 and complete the comeback.
The Lady Vols evened the match at one game apiece following their victory in game two. Led by Ariana Wilson's game-high nine kills, UT outhit the Cats .296 to .228 en route to winning 15-13.
The Cats returned from intermission re-focused and determined to seize control of the match. After Tennessee took the game's opening point, UK ran off 10 of the next 12 to lead 10-3. Cautious not to let happen to them what happened to Tennessee in the first game, UK wasted little time in securing a 15-5 victory in game three and a 2-1 match advantage.
After Tennessee took the opening two points in game four, Kentucky battled back to drawn even with UT. Kentucky forged ahead to take an 8-4 lead and would never trail beyond that point. The Lady Vols closed the gap to 12-11, but Kentucky refused to give in. Not wanting the game to go to a fifth set, the Cats re-grouped to take the final three points and pick up their third SEC victory of the season with senior Megan Weiskircher serving out the match.
Following the match, the excitement on of the UK players was evident.
"I'm glad that after all of our struggles this season, we could battle back and prove to everyone that we could get the job done," said Weiskircher. "We really wanted to play well with today being our last SEC match of the season."
UK outhit UT .281 to .250, recorded 11 more kills (94-83) and outdug the Lady Vols 98 to 75.
Ariana Wilson paced Tennessee with a match and career-high 30 kills. Janelle Hester, Kelli Scott and Trinia Cuseo also recorded double-digit kill performances. Scott was the lone Lady Vol to post a double-double notching 14 kills to go along with her 11 digs.
UK will not see action next weekend. Kentucky will complete its' 2000
schedule over the Thanksgiving holiday when the Cats play two matches at the
University of Louisville. UK plays Marquette Nov. 24th before squaring off
against intrastate rival Louisville in the season finale Nov. 25.