Volleyball looks to bounce back after loss

By Paul Martin

UK arrived in Starkville last Friday evening riding a wave of momentum. Fresh off a spectacular win over rival Tennessee, the Cats ran into a highly motivated Bulldog team.

Mississippi State won 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-19) over the Cats before a record crowd of 4,525 at Humphrey Coliseum. The rowdy setting was a planned event, as the volleyball game preceded the men’s basketball Bulldog Madness festivities.

“Mississippi State did a fantastic job. They had a great atmosphere,” head coach Craig Skinner said. “I don’t care if it’s basketball or volleyball, whatever indoor sport, it was a great environment and they did a really nice job. It definitely motivated Mississippi State and they played well.”

Mississippi State had 40 kills for the game, with a .239 hitting percentage. UK junior libero Stephanie Klefot held firm with 16 digs, but it was not enough to stop the pumped up Bulldogs.

“I didn’t realize how many people were there until after the game. Mississippi State just played better than us hands down,” Klefot said. “It was a big game for them, so I can see how they may have been a little more excited than we were.”

Junior Ashley Frazier recorded 16 kills, which usually equals a win for the Cats. However, this was the first time all year that she had double digit kills and UK lost. The Bulldogs held UK to a mere .141 attacking percentage, which was a huge factor in the UK defeat.

“Their defense played well when it needed to,” Skinner said. “They played a great match.”

To finish strong in conference play, it is crucial for the team to take care of business on the road and be solid defensively.

“We refocused on fundamental and defense in practice. Our preparation needs to be the same. We have a full week to practice and prepare for Georgia,” Coach Skinner said.  “When you play on the road you have to play well defensively, because teams are more comfortable with their offense in their home environment.”

The Georgia Bulldogs crowd will also be seeking an upset, but junior Stephanie Klefot has a plan for the Cats.

“We have a set goal, and that is to win the Southeastern Conference. We are still capable of doing that. I think we need to keep that goal in mind every day,” she said. “We have a bunch of goals written on our board in the locker room, and I think we need to look at those and just realize it’s not over because of one loss.”

Georgia will host the Cats on Friday, Oct. 21 and then UK will visit the Auburn Tigers that following Sunday.