UK volleyball weekend summary

Staff report

UK volleyball can’t seal the deal, fall late

The UK volleyball team strung together two outstanding sets, but could not complete the victory and fell to #11 Florida in five sets (22-25, 20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-8) in front of 3,008 at the O’Connell Center on Sunday.

The loss snapped a four match winning streak for the Cats, who took the first two sets of the match.

Sophomore Lauren O’Connor earned a career high 18 kills on .421 attacking to lead UK offensively. Junior Whitney Billings added 12 kills while senior Ashley Frazier contributed nine. Billings also added 12 digs for her third double-double in four games for the reigning SEC Player of the Week.

“Give credit to Florida for stepping up and responding after being down 2-0. We have to do a better job applying pressure with our serve and blocking defense. We weren’t able to sustain that after the first two sets,” UK coach Craig Skinner said.

“This is a tough one to swallow. But, we have to get back into the gym and continue to work on improving and trying to get better every day.”

The Cats struggled with the serve as 18 service errors plagued UK throughout the match.

The Cats opened up down 3-0 early in the first set before storming back to tie the set at 7. UK took the lead and ran away with it to the tune of a 17-11 lead. Florida sandwiched back to back points traded between the two teams with three point runs to close the lead to 22-20. Frazier, Billings and O’Connor shut the door with kills and UK led 1-0.

The Cats followed up with an impressive performance defensively, holding Florida to five kills and forcing six errors on -.033 attacking. The Cats rolled early and often, holding a lead of 17-10 and replying to each run by Florida, namely two three point runs, to gain the 2-0 set advantage.

Florida came out of the locker room aggressively in the third set, leading throughout until the Cats earned two consecutive points to knot the game at 18. But Florida surged ahead and earned the third set victory.

Florida led the entire fourth set and won 25-22, then won the decisive set in part because of opportunity. Florida had 23 attempts to earn a kill to 14 for UK.

UK falls to 10-7 overall and 4-3 in the SEC. Florida jumps to 13-2 overall and 7-0 in the SEC and now have won 10 straight matches. The Cats return to the floor against Mississippi State on Friday at 5 PM in Rupp Arena as the opening act of Big Blue Madness.

UK volleyball extends winning streak

The UK volleyball team slammed Ole Miss in a dominant three set sweep (25-17, 25-18, 25-19) for their fourth consecutive victory in front of 453 at the Gillom Sports Center on Friday.

The Cats collected 45 kills over the three sets, hitting .548 as a team. UK was led offensively by a team-high 11 kills from sophomore Lauren O’Conner as well as a career high 10 kills from freshman Kayla Tronick, who made her first career start in place of freshman Sara Schwartzwalder, who sat out due to an ankle injury.  Junior Alexandra Morgan totaled eight kills with junior Whitney Billings and senior Ashley Frazier earning seven kills each. Senior Christine Hartmann dished out 38 assists.

UK only made five errors all match. Defensively, the Cats had 8 blocks as a team (compared to 1 for Ole Miss) and out dug the Rebels 39-21. UK also forced Ole Miss to 15 errors on .216 attacking.

“We were very focused tonight and stayed poised on the road,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “I’m proud of how we executed and stayed in tune during each and every point. Kayla (Tronick) did a great job coming in for us tonight and getting some big kills and blocks.”

O’Connor came out aggressively in the first set, placing six kills in the first set to lead the Cats to a .650 attacking percentage and a first set win. After Ole Miss cut the lead to 14-11, UK went on an 11-6 run to close the set.

In the second set, UK seemed to be in control throughout, extending their advantage to 17-11 at one point. But Ole Miss strung together a 4-1 run to shrink UK’s advantage to 3. Consecutive points by the Cats sprung UK to a second set win at 25-18.

The third set saw a 4-0 lead for the Cats, followed by the scrappy Rebels tying the game at seven and trading points until UK surged ahead and won the set and the game at 25-19. UK charted its best attack in the final set, 19 kills on a .667 hitting percentage.

UK leaped to 10-6 overall, 4-2 in the conference, Ole Miss fell to 8-7 overall, 2-4 in the conference.