Wildcats Fall in Five to Tourney Host UNLV
Volleyball struggles to find rhythm in Las Vegas
The University of Kentucky volleyball team dropped a Thanksgiving night battle with tournament host UNLV, 3-2, on Thursday, Nov. 27 in Las Vegas, Nev. After taking the first and third games, Kentucky dropped the final two go-rounds to the Rebels to fall to 14-17 on the season.
Danielle Wallace led the Cats off the bench, totaling 16 kills and 13 digs on .361 hitting in just four games. Sissy Canfield was consistent with 13 kills on .333 hitting, while Jenni Casper led the defensive effort with 25 digs. Amy Kaplan added eight kills, seven digs and six blocks. Liz McCaslin added 12 kills, 10 digs and three blocks in the losing effort.
Kentucky took the first point of the match with a kill by Julie Davis. UK built to a 6-2 lead early in the first game, before the Rebels evened the score at seven. The teams saw seven more ties after that, as late as 27-27, before the Cats closed out the game by taking the final three points. Kentucky hit .378 to UNLVís .174 in the game, while Kaplan led the attack with five kills on .556 hitting.
The Rebels took an early 7-3 lead to open the second stanza and the Wildcats never seemed to recover. UK fell behind by 13 at 25-12, forcing Jona Braden to call a timeout. UNLV scored out of the break to push the advantage to 16 and sailed to the 30-17 win from there. The Cats hit a dismal .105 in the game to the home teamís strong .484.
Game three seemed to be following the flow of the previous go-round as UNLV jumped out to a 4-1 lead following the halftime break. The Wildcats clawed back, tying the score at five on a Canfield shot. The Rebels stretched back out with a 9-3 run for a 14-8 lead.
Later down 19-11, UK began to chip away at the deficit, using a 7-2 string to come within three at 21-18, forcing a Rebel timeout. Kentucky continued to work at it, eventually tying the game at 23 before taking control for good at 25-24. Two kills by Wallace down the stretch helped earn UK the 30-27 go-ahead win.
The Cats found themselves in a similar spot to open the fourth game as they allowed UNLV to take score the first five points unanswered. UK bounced back to take six of the next seven plays, evening the score at six. A McCaslin shot down the line gave Kentucky its first lead of the game at 7-6, forcing a Rebel timeout.
Play remained tight through the middle of the game, with the teams breaking through 10 ties before UNLV took control at 20-19 and used solid hitting and defense to earn the 30-25 win, forcing a fifth game.
Kentucky allowed UNLV to get on the board first again in the tiebreaking game as the Rebels took the first two points. The Cats pulled within one at 3-2, but UNLV continued to pour it on, stretching to a 7-3 advantage, forcing a Wildcat timeout.
The Cats fought back to cut the advantage to two at 10-8, but let the Rebels take the last three points in a row for a 15-11 victory.
The Wildcats will close the 2003 season on Friday, Nov. 28 when they face No. 2 Hawaii at 8 p.m. ET in the final day of the UNLV Thanksgiving Tournament.