Sep 23, 2012 5:19 PM
Led by the 18th double-double effort of junior Whitney Billings' career the Kentucky volleyball team snapped a nine-match winning streak by the Texas A&M Aggies with a thrilling 3-2 (25-23, 24-26, 25-18, 20-25, 15-12) win on Sunday afternoon. Billings logged a season-high 16 kills and 16 digs to go along with five service aces and six blocks to lead the winning effort for UK.
Senior Ashley Frazier had 16 kills in the match highlighted by the 1,000th slam of her career in the fourth set.
"It's (the win) important for confidence," said UK coach Craig Skinner. "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."
With the win, Kentucky improves to 7-6 overall and 1-2 in Southeastern Conference action. The Aggies drop to 10-2 overall and 2-1 in league action. UK returns to action with a home contest vs. Tennessee on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. That match will air live on ESPNU.
The home squad opened the decisive fifth set by taking the first point, before UK forced the Aggies into an erroneous attack. The Aggies then scored three straight to take a 4-1 lead before the Blue and White scored three consecutive points of its own to knot the score at four. The teams would exchange points from there until Billings gave UK an 8-7 lead into the switching of sides.
Following the transition, Kentucky scored two straight to earn a 10-8 lead and A&M chose to take its first timeout. Out of the break the Aggies scored two straight of their own to knot the score at 10 apiece and UK opted to take its first timeout. The teams would swap points back-and-forth until Frazier smashed her 16th kill of the match to lift UK to a 13-12 advantage and the Aggies chose to take their final timeout.
The break did not quell the UK attack as Wildcats wasted little time in answering with consecutive match-winning kills from freshman Sara Schwarzwalder for the 15-12 final set win and a 3-2 victory for the Blue and White.
Billings and Frazier were joined in double-figure kills' efforts by sophomore Lauren O'Conner who had 12. Senior Christine Hartmann dished out a season-high 55 assists and narrowly missed on a double-double with nine digs. Schwarzwalder posted eight hammers and junior Alexandra Morgan added seven.
Senior Stephanie Klefot had 20 digs in the match to officially move into second place all-time in UK's career record books for digs. Sophomore Jackie Napper added 17 and junior Jessi Greenberg tacked on nine.
In the opening set of action the Wildcats opened the scoring by forcing the Aggies into an erroneous attack. The home team fired back and eventually earned a three-point lead at 12-9 to force UK into an early timeout. Out of the break a triple block and a pair of service aces from Billings brought the Wildcats back to within striking distance at 15-14. Kentucky eventually knotted the score at 19 on a combo block from the hands of Schwarzwalder and Billings.
The Aggies earned a two-point edge at 22-20, but Kentucky fought back again with a two-point swing behind a kill from Morgan to tie it at 22. The home team then took a timeout and UK scored consecutive points on bad attacks from Texas A&M to get to set point. UK terminated the next ball from the hand of Morgan for the match's opening set win at 25-23.
Billings led the way in the first set with a trio of kills, two aces, five digs and two blocks. UK limited the Aggies to a .000 hitting clip and just 10 kills in the opening frame.
UK captured a 2-1 lead in the match following a 25-18 third set win. The stanza featured a 10-0 run by the Wildcats that saw Kentucky total four blocks and Frazier's 1,000th career kill capped off the run. UK maintained its edge and closed out the set as Billings logged her fifth ace of the match and then totaled her 11th kill for the winning point. In the set she also logged her 18th career double-double effort.
Kentucky posted 11 kills on .205 hitting, while A&M posted 11 kills on .051 attacking. UK had five aces in the set with Morgan totaling three and Billings with a pair. UK's four blocks also proved to be the difference in the third frame.
In a closely contested second set, Texas A&M fired back with a 26-24 second set win to tie the score at one set apiece going into the locker room. The Aggies notched 15 kills on .238 hitting, while UK managed 14 on .195 hitting. O'Conner (six) and Billings (five) led the way team-high kills in the set.
Texas A&M grabbed the early lead by a 2-0 score before UK would fire back and tie the score at two on a block by Billings and Morgan. The teams would then exchange points back and forth until the home squad broke free for a 2-0 run to take a 16-14 lead. The lead would escalate to four at 21-17 before UK mounted another comeback effort. UK climbed all the way back to tie the score at 23 on a kill from O'Conner before taking set-point with a kill from Billings. The Aggies responded with a run of its own, however, to score the final three points of the frame to win the stanza.
The Aggies opened to a 1-0 lead in the fourth set and never trailed the entire way en route to a match-tying 25-20 fourth set win to force the decisive fifth set. The Aggies had 22 points on kills in the set on a sizzling .514 hitting percentage. UK managed 16 kills on .424, but the Aggie attack was too much to handle for the Blue and White.
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