UK volleyball sweeps for first round win



By Nick Gray | @KYKernelGray

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UK volleyball (21-10, 14-6 SEC) rolled over East Tennessee State 3-0 (25-9, 25-17, 25-15) in the first round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament with a strong defensive performance in front of 1,917 at Memorial Coliseum.

The Cats forced the Buccaneers into 22 errors while limiting Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Megan Devine to eight kills and nine errors on 38 hits. Senior Ashley Frazier led the UK offense with 12 kills. Junior Whitney Billings hit for eight kills and had nine digs, while freshman Kayla Tronick added seven kills.

“I was happy with the start. We came out strong in set one with our serving and ETSU has a couple of really good attackers,” UK coach Craig Skinner. “We were able to neutralize them by serving them tough and getting them out of system.”

UK claimed the first set with stifling defense which forced ETSU into .032 hitting with six errors along with four service errors. Devine contributed with five errors and one kill.

The Bucs claimed the first two points of the match before UK captured 11 of the next 12, as the deficit failed to rise above seven points. Frazier hit for five kills with no errors to lead the Cats, who hit .409 for the set.

UK claimed the second set 25-17 with a 14-3 run after falling behind 14-11. Frazier added four kills to the team’s 16 kills on .394 hitting in the set. Tronick and Billings each added three kills. ETSU struggled again on the attack with seven errors alongside nine kills on .059 hitting.

“Knowing what they’re capable of, they came out in set two and did some really nice things. I was proud of the way we responded when they made a run on us,” Skinner said. “That’s important during the tournament that you respond, and do things in retaliation to what the opponent’s going to do.

UK keyed another big run in the middle of the set to complete the sweep. A 13-2 Cats run, punctuated by six kills and five Buccaneer errors, pushed a 5-5 game to 18-7 UK lead. Frazier again led UK with four kills while the UK defense limited ETSU to ten kills and nine errors on .029 hitting.

The first game of the Lexington Regional saw Ohio State (23-10, 13-7 Big Ten) ride a sizzling offensive attack to defeat Notre Dame (20-10, 13-2 Big East) in three sets (25-16. 25-21, 25-17). The Buckeyes hit .512 with 52 kills, including an error-free 16 kills from senior Kaitlyn Leary. Ohio State and UK will battle for the Lexington Regional and a spot in the Sweet Sixteen Saturday at 7 PM.