UK volleyball finds mixed results over weekend

By Nick Gray

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The UK women’s volleyball team was devoid of marathon games unlike the first week of play, posting a 2-1 record (5-2 overall) at the Baymont Invitational at Ohio University on Friday and Saturday with wins against Ohio (25-16, 25-21, 21-25, 25-21)  and Western Carolina (25-8, 25-15, 25-23), and a loss to 17th ranked Oregon (25-18, 25-14, 25-16).

On Friday night, the Cats played fresh against Ohio in the four set victory. Senior Christine Hartmann passed out 45 assists and earned a team-high 14 digs. Hartmann paved the way defensively with four blocks along with her dig total. Freshman Sara Schwarzwalder led the front line with six blocks, while junior Alexandra Morgan added five and junior Whitney Billings contributed four. Senior libero Stephanie Klefot had nine digs and sophomore Jackie Napper did the same.

“Ohio is a good team,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “I’m really proud of the way we came out in game one and applied lots of pressure. Ohio then played well in game three, but I thought we fought through some adversity and really played well after point 20 in the fourth set. Our blocking defense was pretty consistent most of the match again for us.”

The first game for the Cats on Saturday saw a struggling front line and weak defensive play against a top 20 opponent. Oregon hit their way to a three set sweep due to an attack percentage of .500 over the entire game, including hitting .818 in the second set. On the flip side, UK hit .185 for the game, a number that included 16 errors and a .065 clip during the opening set. The Cats also posted season lows in blocks (4) and digs (18) in the game.

Senior Ashley Frazier was the bright spot of the contest for UK. Frazier totaled eight kills on a career-high .583 hitting percentage while Billings had nine kills and a team-high three blocks.

The final matchup of the Invitational saw UK sweep Western Carolina in quick fashion. The Cats posted 17 kills in each set, totaling 51 for match over an attack percentage of .423. The attack was led by sophomore Lauren O’Connor, as it was for each game of the tournament. O’Connor earned 14 kills on .542 hitting. She was helped out around the net by Morgan who posted nine kills on .500 hitting along with Billings, whom placed six kills on a .545 clip.

Behind the attack, Klefot led the defensive effort with 10 digs and Hartmann handed out 38 assists and found seven players for kills in the match. Napper added onto her good day with 8 digs while Frazier contributed 7 as the defensive effort forced Western Carolina into hitting just .122.