Wildcats Overpowered by No. 3 Florida, 3-0, in SEC Tournament
The University of Kentucky volleyball team was eliminated from the 2003 Southeastern Conference Tournament after an opening-round loss to No. 3 Florida on Friday, Nov. 21 at the Volleyball Competition Facility in Columbia, S.C.
UK (14-16, 6-10 SEC) was led by senior Liz McCaslin with nine kills and seven digs on .296 hitting. Katie Bright came off the bench for only the third time this season to put down four kills on .600 hitting with three digs and two assists.
Florida’s Jane Collymore was unstoppable, earning 19 kills on .471 hitting with 14 digs. Three-time SEC Player of the Year Aury Cruz had 11 kills and 10 digs.
Kentucky opened the first game with a kill by McCaslin, but Florida quickly took control, stretching out to a 13-8 lead, forcing a Wildcat visit to the bench. Down 26-14, the Cats used a 6-2 run to pull within eight at 28-20, but would get no closer as the Gators took the final two points for the 30-28 victory. Kentucky hit .000 in the game to UF’s .350. McCaslin led UK in the game with three kills and three digs.
A block assist by Julie Davis and Amy Kaplan gave Kentucky the first point of the second game and after a tie at one, UK would regain the lead. The Cats would fight through three more ties, maintaining control up to the mid-point of the game where it was tied 14-14. The Gators, however, used a high-powered defense to control from there, allowing UK just four more points with a 30-19 victory.
The Gators turned up the heat to start the third game, taking a quick 5-1 lead. Kentucky cut the advantage to two at 5-3, but struggled from there. UF stretched to an 11-point lead at 15-6, but Bright came in for UK and provided a spark, cutting it to seven at 19-12.
Kentucky was able to cut the lead to seven again at 21-14, but Florida used a 4-0 run to control play at 25-14. After another Wildcat timeout, the Cats matched UF point-for-point, but down 28-17, used another timeout. Florida went on to take the game on a Cruz kill at 30-19.
The Cats will close out the 2003 campaign next weekend against UNLV and No. 2 Hawaii in a round-robin tournament in Las Vegas. UK faces UNLV on Thanksgiving before facing the Rainbow Warriors in the season closer.