FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Junior Becky Pavan struck for a career-high 19 kills on a near-perfect .792 hitting percentage to help the Kentucky volleyball team to an impressive 3-1 (25-21, 25-15, 21-25, 25-17) win at Arkansas on Sunday.
Pavan was unstoppable in leading the way for the Wildcats (9-9, 3-5 SEC) who snapped a three-match losing streak with the win at Arkansas, the team's seventh straight victory in the series. Setter Christine Hartmann had a career-best 50 assists in leading UK to a season-high .379 attacking clip.
"Our defense was really good for the second straight match," UK coach Craig Skinner said. "Christine (Hartmann) did a really good job in finding Becky (Pavan) who had probably her best match as a Wildcat today."
Senior Blaire Hiler chipped in with 12 kills on .375 hitting and junior Gretchen Giesler had a season-high 10 kills on .400 hitting. Giesler led the way at the net with five blocks as UK charted nine for the match. Freshman Whitney Billings chipped in with seven hammers to aid the UK cause. Senior Lauren Rapp posted eight kills and five digs.
Sophomore Stephanie Klefot matched a career best with 22 scoops, while freshman Jessi Greenberg added six in the UK victory.
"I thought our intensity and emotional level was where it needed to be today," Skinner said. " Our focus was exceptional today as well and we need to continue that going forward."
Arkansas earned an early 4-0 lead, but UK charged back to tie the score at six apiece after three straight kills from the Cats. UK took its first lead at 7-6 behind an erroneous attack from the Razorbacks. Kentucky maintained an edge until Arkansas found a way to come back and tie the score at 12 apiece. The Razorbacks then took a two-point lead behind a pair of aces at 15-13.
A kill from Pavan enabled the Blue and White to knot the score at 16, and then the Wildcats quickly reclaimed the lead by forcing Arkansas into another mishit for a 17-16 advantage. Kentucky would never relinquish the lead and allowed the Arkansas to only come to within one on two more occasions as UK finished out the set on a 7-4 run and capture the opening set 25-21.
Kentucky's offense was spectacular in the opening set charting 19 kills on a blazing .457 hitting percentage. Hiler led the way with five kills, but four players totaled three or more kills in the set. Arkansas hit .353 and put down 14 kills, but UK's back-row defense was also terrific scooping up 17 digs in the set led by seven from Klefot.
Rapp scored the first point of the second set and UK quickly took a 3-1 lead. Kentucky extended its advantage to four points at 10-6 after a pair of blocks in the early going forcing Arkansas to use a timeout. Kentucky stretched its lead to six at 12-6 after a Billings kill and another block from the tandem of Rapp and Pavan.
The Wildcats opened up a seven-point lead at 18-9 after Pavan's second ace of the stanza. UK would go on to finish the set on a 7-6 run and earn a dominating 25-15 second set win to go up 2-0.
In the second set it was the defense's turn to shine as the Blue and White posted six blocks in the set and held Arkansas to a negative .130 hitting clip. UK's offense posted 11 kills on .318 hitting led by four kills from Rapp. Five different Wildcats registered a kill and the Wildcats had three aces in the frame. The Razorbacks scored the first three points of the third stanza and would go on to stretch its lead to an 8-3 advantage after consecutive blocks to force UK into an early timeout. Kentucky pulled to within 13-9 after Pavan's 10th kill of the match, but Arkansas quickly reclaimed the momentum and took the lead to 16-9. UK responded by taking the next three points highlighted by another Hiler kill to bridge the gap to just 16-12 and forcing Arkansas into a timeout.
UK pulled to within 23-20, but Arkansas was able to close out the set 25-21 to make the score 2-1 in favor of the Wildcats. Arkansas charted 17 kills on .438 hitting, while limiting UK to 16 kills on just .286 hitting. Pavan led the way with six kills in the stanza.
Pavan struck for another kill to start the scoring in the fourth frame as UK took an early 8-2 lead off of five kills from the duo of Hiler and Pavan. UK enjoyed its largest lead of the set at 14-8 after another kill from Pavan. A solo block by Giesler gave Kentucky a 16-11 lead and Arkansas opted to use its final timeout.
UK went up 21-13 after consecutive errors by the Razorbacks, but the home team rallied for three straight points to pull to within 21-16 and UK chose to use a timeout. Out of the break Pavan laid down her career-high 18th kill of the match. Fittingly, UK's junior middle blocker tossed down the match-winning kill to lift UK to a 25-18 fourth set win and the match.
Kentucky charted 17 kills on .438 hitting in the fourth frame led by eight from Pavan. Arkansas hit just .061 in the set and totaled just seven kills.