Cats Fall in Final Regular-Season Match
Three Kentucky players registered double-digit kills Saturday, led by senior outside hitter Danielle Wallace’s 17, but errors proved costly in a 3-1 (30-27, 24-30, 30-25, 30-24) loss to Cincinnati in Memorial Coliseum.
The Wildcats (17-11) hit just .193 and were plagued by 47 errors in the match. Senior middle blocker Amy Kaplan posted 12 kills, while junior outside hitter Melissa Popp added 10 on .333 hitting. The Cats posted a strong effort defensively, as four players tallied double-digit digs totals. Libero Jenni Casper notched a team-high 25 scoops, while junior Julie Gagnon tied her career-high with 18.
First-year setter Tess Edwards registered a career-high 46 assists, while posting four kills on .444 hitting. Redshirt freshman Queen Nzenwa recorded a game-high eight blocks, as the Wildcats out-blocked the Bearcats, 9-7, in the match.
Kentucky and Cincinnati battled evenly to begin the opening game, but the Wildcats were able to pull ahead 10-6 after back-to-back kills by Fisher as part of an 8-2 run by the Cats. The Wildcats extended their lead out to 16-12 on a crafty kill by Tess Edwards, but the Bearcats scored the game’s next two points.
A heads-up attack by Popp resulted in a kill to put UK in front 18-15. With the Cats leading 22-19, a Cincinnati kill followed by two Kentucky attack errors allowed the Bearcats to tie the score at 22. After three more ties, the Bearcats posted a kill and Fisher made an errant attack to put UC in front 28-26. A kill by Fisher ended the scoring drought, but a kill and a service ace by Jessie Nevitt on consecutive possessions gave the Bearcats the 30-27 first-game victory.
The Wildcats took command early in the second frame, racing to a 6-1 advantage on a put-down by Popp. Cincinnati began chipping at the Cats’ lead to come within two, 9-7, on a service error by Popp. Back-to-back kills by Edwards and Wallace extended UK’s lead to 13-8 before a setting error on Cincinnati gave the Cats their third consecutive point.
Two UC errors allowed the Wildcats to move ahead by six, 19-13, forcing the Bearcats to burn a late timeout. Three consecutive Cincinnati points pulled the Bearcats to within one, 22-21, and forced Skinner to use a timeout of his own. Out of the break, the Cats tallied three consecutive points, including a service ace by Gagnon, to go in front 25-21, and they rolled to the 30-24 second stanza win.
The two teams traded points for the beginning of the third game, but the Bearcats led by as many as four points, 9-5, in the early going. Cincinnati broke a 13-13 tie and moved in front 20-16 on a service ace. Trailing 26-22, Wallace registered kills on three of the next four plays to bring UK within two, 27-25. The Cats, however, would not score a point the rest of the match as the Bearcats cruised to the 30-25 victory.
The Wildcats broke to a 6-4 advantage to open the fourth game, but the Bearcats rallied to tie the score at seven. From there, Cincinnati went on a 5-0 run that extended its advantage to 12-7 and forced an early UK timeout. The Bearcats kept adding to their lead to move in front by five, 16-11 on a setting error by Wallace. Three consecutive UC kills brought them to the 20-point mark at 20-14, and the Cats never were able to regroup, posting just five kills the rest of the way and falling 30-24.
Kentucky will now wait to see if it has been selected to participate in the 64-team NCAA Tournament. The selection will be made Sunday, Nov. 27 at 2:30 p.m. on ESPNews.