Volleyball continues success in SEC play

By Paul Martin

The UK volleyball team took care of business Sunday, smothering Alabama 3-0 (25-12, 25-8, 25-17) at Memorial Coliseum. UK improved to an overall record of 16-3 and 7-1 in conference action.

“This is definitely a confidence booster. We won Friday, but didn’t have our best game. It was good to come out in our home gym and get the job done today,” junior setter Christine Hartmann said.

UK set the pace early, with a great display of defense that frustrated Alabama.  The size advantage was evident for the Cats. It was the first time this year the Cats have held an opponent to a negative hitting percentage, as Alabama only recorded 16 kills for the day.

“It was another good win, we were focused today,” UK head coach Craig Skinner. That was the theme of ours in the match. We played very efficient and clean. I’m proud of the way we executed on the court today.”

After the intermission, Alabama produced a different game plan that kept the last game much more competitive.

“They started setting their middles behind a little bit more, they had success doing that in the third game,” Skinner said.

The Cats eventually pulled away, but Alabama wouldn’t go down easy at the end.  The score was 21-15 before UK slammed the door.

“They really picked up their defense, which made for longer rallies,” junior outside hitter Whitney Billings said.

The offense also played very well to compliment the defense. Alabama continually called timeouts to regroup and stop the attack, but the Cats could not be stopped.  UK had 45 total kills, along with a .368 hitting percentage and ten service aces.

“We had a lot of kids striking the ball very well today. It was a very balanced effort today on both offense and defense,” Skinner said.

A large crowd was on hand Sunday to witness the Cats’ win, and to also aid in the battle against breast cancer.  “Dig for the Cure” t-shirts were sold, and the profits will benefit research, treatment and education at the Markey Cancer Center.

“We like being at home, it’s a great venue,” Skinner said. “We have great fans and our crowd really came out today to support us and the dig for the cure.  The fans really help us a great deal, and I expect them to be here Wednesday night for the great match against Tennessee.”

The Tennessee Lady Vols visit Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday night.  The match will be televised on ESPNU at 8pm.  Tennessee comes in without a loss in conference play and ranked 19th in the nation.

“We need to have the same mentality against Tennessee that we had today,” Billings said. “That’s what we need to focus on.”