UK volleyball falters in Nebraska



By Nick Gray

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Though not from a lack of effort, No. 19 UK  volleyball came back home from Nebraska with two losses in three games after falling to Oklahoma(25-20, 25-20, 17-25, 25-23) and top ranked Nebraska (25-19, 23-25, 25-22, 25-22) during the three day Ameritas Players Challenge in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Cats fell to 6-4 after Saturday’s loss, one in which they were tied at 19 in the third set and even at 17 in the final set against the number one ranked team in the country.

Saturday’s match against Nebraska came down to playmaking at the end of sets, according to UK coach Craig Skinner.

“I was pleased with the way our team responded tonight after last night’s match against Oklahoma,” Skinner said. “Nebraska had a knack for making big-time plays at the ends of sets tonight. We have some good players on this team and it has taken a little while during preconference to smooth some things out with some new people in the lineup. I saw some fire tonight that we need to sustain going into SEC play.”

The Cats switched things up on the back line for the games against Oklahoma and Nebraska, running the back line passes through freshman setter Morgan Bergren, who performed up to expectations with 42 assists, four kills, seven digs and four blocks in her first career start against the Sooners and 47 assists and 10 digs versus the host Cornhuskers.

Around the net, senior Ashley Frazier was a force against Nebraska with a team high 20 kills, while junior Whitney Billings added 12 kills, four blocks and five digs.

On Friday, UK faltered on the attack, committing 38 hitting errors and earning a .091 attacking percentage even with 54 kills hit throughout the match. Frazier reflected much of those statistics with 18 kills and 10 hitting errors. Junior Alexandra Morgan matched a career high with 10 kills and led the effort defensively with seven blocks.

The Cats did start the round robin tournament with a dominant three set sweep of Duquesne (25-14, 25-13, 25-18), aided by Morgan and freshman Sara Schwarzwalder who placed 10 kills each with a more than effective attacking percentages of  .833 and .769 respectively.  Frazier also added a team high 15 kills.

UK will turn their focus from nonconference play to the SEC, as the Cats will start conference play at home Sunday against Florida at Memorial Coliseum with a 1 p.m. start.