UK Downs No. 20 Ohio to Advance in NCAA
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The University of Kentucky volleyball team defeated No. 20 Ohio tonight, Nov. 30, in the opening round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats topped the Bobcats in five, 3-2 (20-30, 30-27, 24-30, 30-26, 15-9), to earn their first NCAA Tournament win since defeating Duke 3-1 in the opening round in 1992.
The Wildcats are now 8-7 all-time in NCAA Tournament action as they end Ohio’s season with a record of 28-5. The win was Kentucky’s second over a ranked team this season after the Wildcats defeated then-No. 18 Tennessee earlier this season in Lexington.
“I want to commend Ohio on the outstanding season they have had,” UK Coach Craig Skinner said. “We prepared extremely hard for this match. We started out slow, but we responded at the end and made plays when it really counted. I can’t say enough about the job our players did getting it done when the match was on the line.”
Kentucky (19-11) was led by All-Southeastern Conference Second Team selection Queen Nzenwa who recorded 23 kills and nine blocks in the win. Nzenwa turned in her fourth 20-plus kill effort of the season and her second in as many matches after tallying 24 kills in the regular season finale at Cincinnati. Fellow All-SEC Second Team member Nicole Britenriker recorded her team-leading 15th double-double of the season with 20 kills and 15 digs to go along with five blocks in the win over Ohio. Sophomore Ashlee Fisher added 15 kills and four blocks, while SEC Freshman of the Year Sarah Rumely pitched in with 61 assists and a career-high 17 digs for her eighth double-double of the year. Senior libero Jenni Casper added 11 digs, while sophomore Tess Edwards had six kills and two blocks.
The teams played evenly in the early stages of game one, but with the score tied 5-5, the Bobcats scored five unanswered to take a 10-5 lead and force the Wildcats to use an early timeout. Following the break, Melissa Popp pounded a kill to stop the scoring drought and pull the Cats within four at 10-6. However, a pair of Wildcat hitting errors coupled with a pair of Bobcat kills helped OU extend its lead to nine at 15-6 and force UK to use its final timeout.
A kill by Britenriker snapped the Bobcat scoring streak and started a run that saw kills from Hausfeld, Fisher and Rumely. UK outscored Ohio 5-2 to cut the lead to six at 17-11 after a block assist by Rumely and Nzenwa. Ohio pushed its advantage back to eight, 20-12, but the Wildcats would not back down and continued to chip away at the lead. Nznewa teamed up with Edwards for a block, followed by a Bobcat hitting error and another putdown by Hausfeld to cut the lead to six at 22-16 which forced OU to use its first timeout. The Bobcats used a 5-1 run out of the break to take a 10-point lead at 27-17. A service error made it a nine-point game at 29-18. Fisher added a pair of kills to make it a 29-20 affair, but the Bobcats went on to win game one by a final of 30-20.
Game two began with more even play as the teams traded points early and had the eleventh tie of the game at 11-11. Ohio then scored two straight on a UK service error and a kill to take a 13-11 lead before the Wildcats scored four unanswered on a pair of kills by Britenriker and a putdown on the angle by Popp to take a 15-13 lead. Following a media timeout, two consecutive kills by Ohio tied the score at 15-15. The score remained knotted at 17-all before the Cats took a 19-17 advantage after an OU service error and a kill by Nznewa found the floor. The Wildcats led by three, 22-19, after back-to-back kills by Nzenwa and Britenriker forced the Bobcats to call for time. Ohio scored on a kill out of the break, but a pair of strong kills by Popp and Britenriker resulted in another OU timeout with Kentucky leading by four, 24-20.
The Bobcats hammered back-to-back kills to cut the lead to two, 24-22, before another Popp putdown made it a three-point UK lead at 25-22. A kill by OU’s Ellen Herman paired with a hitting error by Fisher made it a one-point lead, 25-24, and resulted in a Kentucky timeout. The Wildcats continued to lead by one at 27-26 and outscored the Bobcats 3-1 the rest of the way on a pair of kills by Nzenwa and an ace by Alisa Pierce to take game two by a score of 30-27.
The Wildcats and Bobcats were tied at 3-3 to open game three. Ohio then scored four straight to take a 7-3 lead, but the Wildcats would not back down. A kill by Edwards and another service ace by Pierce cut the lead to three at 8-5, but OU would answer with a 3-0 run to push the lead to five, 11-6, and force a Wildcat timeout. Kentucky continued to trail by five at 15-10 but saw the Bobcats push their lead to as many as seven, 18-11. The Wildcats responded with three straight points on a kill by Nzenwa coupled with a pair of OU hitting errors to slash the lead to four at 18-14. The Bobcats scored four of the next six points to push the margin back to six, 22-16, and force UK to use its final timeout.
Following the breather, a powerful putdown by Fisher started a 6-2 Kentucky run. A pair of kills by Fisher and Nzenwa and a block assist by the duo sparked the scoring drive and helped slash the Ohio lead to just two, 24-22, and force a Bobcat timeout. OU scored on three straight kills to take a five-point lead at 27-22 before a blocking error to snap the Wildcat scoring drought. A pair of Kentucky errors made it a 29-23 Ohio edge and the Bobcats held on to take the third game by a final of 30-24.
Ohio opened game four with a 5-2 run but the Wildcats rallied to tie it at 8-8 after Britenriker and Rumely teamed up for a block assist. Kentucky took its first lead of the game at 10-9 after Nznewa and Britenriker nailed down back-to-back kills. The Bobcats quickly tied the score again at 11-11, but saw the Wildcats put together a 5-1 run behind the strength of two straight kills by Fisher, a putdown by Nzenwa and a powerful kill by Hausfeld which gave the Cats a 15-12 lead.
OU answered with a 5-1 run of its own to take a 17-16 lead before a kill by Britenriker ended the run and knotted the score at 17. That kill was part of a 6-2 Wildcat run which was capped by kills by Nzenwa and Britenriker and a block assist by Rumely and Nzenwa to give UK a 22-19 lead and force an Ohio timeout. The duo teamed up for their second straight block assist and Fisher and Edwards recorded back-to-back kills as the Wildcats increased their lead to five, 25-20, and force the Bobcats to use their final timeout. Ohio pulled to within three, 25-22, before the Cats scored three straight on a kill by Nzenwa, a block assist by Nzenwa and Hausfeld and an OU hitting error to push the lead back to six at 28-22. The Bobcats used a 4-0 run to pull to within two, 28-26, but a pair of putdowns by Hausfeld and Edwards lifted the Wildcats to a 30-26 win and forced the deciding game five.
Kentucky opened game five with a 5-1 run after an Ohio hitting error and a block assist by Britenriker and Rumely. A powerful kill by Britneriker, followed by a block solo by Fisher capped the early run and resulted in a Bobcat timeout. An Ohio ball handling error gave the Wildcats a 6-1 lead and Kentucky increased that margin after a kill by Nzenwa and an ace by Rumely gave Kentucky an 8-2 lead and forced Ohio to burn its final timeout. A pair of kills by Nznewa gave the Wildcats a seven-point lead at 10-3. The Bobcats would cut the lead to five at 11-6, but the Wildcats had the answer in a kill by Britenriker and a block assist by Britenriker and Hausfeld to make it a 13-6 Wildcat advantage. Ohio scored two straight to pull to within five, 13-8, but that was as close as they would come as Hausfeld and Fisher paired up for a pair of kills to give the Wildcats the 15-9 win.
Kentucky advances to take on the winner of the Purdue/St. Louis match on Friday night in West Lafayette. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility.