UK volleyball ends losing streak with victory at Texas A & M

UK volleyball pulled away from Texas A&M, defeating them (25-23, 24-26, 25-18, 20-25, 15-12) in front of 1,492 fans at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas. The Cats snapped a four game losing streak while the Aggies’ nine-game winning streak came to a close.

Senior Ashley Frazier had 16 kills in the match which included the 1,000th kill of her career in the fourth set. Whitney Billings earned a season-high 16 kills and 16 digs to go along with five service aces and six blocks to lead UK. The Cats’ balanced attack at the net also included sophomore Lauren O’Connor, who placed 12 kills, freshman Sara Schwarzwalder, who had 8 kills, and junior Alexandra Morgan with 8 finishes.

Senior Stephanie Klefot had 20 digs in the match to move into second place for the program all-time. Sophomore Jackie Napper had 17 digs and junior Jessi Greenberg added nine. Senior Christine Hartmann had 9 digs alongside a season high 55 assists. As a team, UK recorded 12.5 total blocks on the defensive end.

“It’s important for confidence,” UK coach Craig Skinner said of the win. “You lose a few and it’s hard to feel good about what you’re doing. We played good for most of the night, but for us to come back and compete as hard as we did in game five and (Ashley) Frazier and (Whitney) Billings really stepping up their games as the match went on, it was a good win.”

The Cats traded the first four sets with the Aggies as both teams struggled to find a clean attack. UK forced Texas A&M into 32 errors, including 10 in the initial set (.000 attacking percentage), but the Cats also had 13 in the first two sets themselves. UK finished with a .229 attacking percentage while limiting the Aggies attack to a .187 attack.

The final set started with a 4-1 Aggies lead, yet UK fought back and led 13-12 at the final timeout of the match. Schwarzwalder finished off Texas A&M with consecutive kills, and the Cats could fly back home content with a victory.

UK improves to 7-6 overall and 1-2 in conference action. The Aggies drop to 10-2 overall and 2-1 in the league. UK returns to action with a home contest versus Tennessee on Wednesday at 8 PM at Memorial Coliseum. That match will air live on ESPNU.

Cats drop Friday game to LSU

The team dropped a five-set contest to LSU Friday (25-21, 22-25, 17-25, 25-20, 15-11) at the Pete Maravich Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The closely fought game by the Cats elicited some excellent totals from senior libero Stephanie Kleflot and sophomore Jackie Napper. Each player topped the 20 dig plateau (Klefot with 29, Napper with 20) and equaled their career highs for a game. Senior Christine Hartmann passed out 43 assists and also added eight digs.

Junior Alexandra Morgan toppled her career high in kills for the third time this season with 12 on a strong .455 attacking percentage. Morgan was helped around the net with 17 kills from senior Ashley Frazier and 14 from junior Whitney Billings.

UK surged ahead two sets to one after starting slowly once again. The Cats attacked at a .275 and .270 percentage, respectively, in sets two and three. But LSU stormed back with tough defense (11 and 9 kills in sets four and five for UK) and an improved offensive attack with attacking percentages of .243 and .365 in the final two sets to tie and win the match.

In the fourth set, the Tigers opened to a 2-0 advantage, but UK quickly stormed back to take a 5-2 lead behind a Billings solo block. The home squad earned six straight points in the middle portion of the set to take a commanding 16-12 lead that proved too much to overcome.

“I’ve got to give credit to LSU,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “They came out and competed hard and they were energized by the crowd that they had. After game three, we had to respond and make plays even though we were up 2-1. LSU fought back and made the plays that they needed to in the end.”

LSU opened the fifth set by scoring the first two points and never trailed again. UK knotted the score at two following consecutive kills from Billings. The Tigers then shook loose for two-straight points of their own to reclaim the lead. UK would get back to within one on three separate occasions before LSU posted a run of four of the next five points going to the Tigers. That separation was enough as the Tigers finished the match with a 15-11 win for the set and the five set victory for the game.