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    SEC Volleyball Conference Sunday

    Arkansas 3, South Carolina 0
    Kentucky 3, Alabama 0
    Florida 3, LSU 0
    Mississippi State 3, Auburn 2
    Tennessee 3, Ole Miss 2

    Anderson leads Razorbacks to three-set win

    COLUMBIA, S.C. – Amanda Anderson had a match-high 12 kills Sunday as the University of Arkansas volleyball team posted a straight-set win (27-25, 25-17, 25-15) over South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. Jasmine Norton added a double-double performance with 11 kills and 11 digs in the win. As a team, the Razorbacks posted a .294 hitting percentage and tallied 10 service aces.
    Anderson finished the match with a career-high .667 hitting percentage (12-0-18) to lead Arkansas’ offensive output. Defensively, Kelli Stipanovich and Christa Alvarez had 12 and 11 digs, respectively. At the net, Kasey Heckelman tallied a match-high seven blocks while Stipanovich got in on six blocks of her own.
    In Sunday’s match, Norton moved into 12th all-time on Arkansas’ career kills list and Stipanovich moved into a tie with Christina Lawrence (2004-08) for 14th on the program’s career list. Norton now has 1,133 kills in her career while Stipanovich has 1,109 career kills to her credit.
    “Our team really executed today against South Carolina,” Anderson said. “Last year, Janeliss had a big match against them so I wanted to do my part in today’s match. Also, it was good to finish out the match with a block with Kelli.”
    Led by its outside hitters through the early stages of the first set, Arkansas (11-7, 3-4 SEC) jumped out to a 13-8 lead to force the Gamecocks into their first timeout of the match. South Carolina (9-8, 0-7 SEC) responded to win five of the next six points to pull to within three. The Razorbacks were the first team to 20 with a kill by Roslandy Acosta put the team ahead by three.
    Late in the set, the home team erased a three-point deficit and reeled off four straight points to arrive at set point with a 24-23 lead. Stipanovich and Heckelman teamed up for consecutive blocks to keep the team alive and give Arkansas its first set point. Stipanovich found the floor to give the Razorbacks their second set point. An attack error by South Carolina gave Arkansas the first set, 27-25.
    With the help of three consecutive service aces by Amanda Anderson and a tandem block by Acosta and Heckelman, Arkansas went out to an 8-3 lead in the second set. As they did in the opener, the Gamecocks chipped away at their deficit and got as close as one point after back-to-back kills by Taylor Bruns. The Razorbacks recovered to push their lead to six, 20-14, on a block by Heckelman and Stipanovich.
    South Carolina won the next two points to pull to within four but the Razorbacks won five of the final six points of the set to take the 2-0 match lead. Anderson found the floor for her fifth kill of the game to give Arkansas a handful of set points. From her setter position, Bruns was called for a double contact and the Razorbacks clinched the set, 25-17.
    Out of intermission, the two teams traded points but Arkansas pushed ahead and turned a three-point lead into a six-point cushion, 14-8. After a South Carolina timeout, the Razorbacks stretched their lead to 19-10 after consecutive service aces by Stipanovich. Arkansas’ lead reached double figures for the first time with a kill from Norton which put the team ahead, 21-11.
    The Razorbacks maintained their double-digit advantage to close out the match. Anderson pounded her final kill of the day to put Arkansas one point away from victory. South Carolina saved two match points but on the team’s third try, Anderson and Stipanovich teamed up for a block to clinch the set, 25-15, and the match.


    UK Defense Stymies Alabama Attack in Sweep

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky defense enjoyed a terrific outing limiting Alabama to a -.012 hitting clip and a mere 16 kills for the match in a 3-0 (25-12, 25-8, 25-17) sweep Sunday afternoon in front of another packed house at Memorial Coliseum.

    “It was another really good win, and we were focused today,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “That was a theme of ours in the match to be focused. I thought we were very efficient, and I’m really proud of the way we executed on the court today.”

    With the win, Kentucky improves to 16-3 overall on the season and 7-1 in Southeastern Conference action. Alabama drops to 9-10 overall and 2-6 in league play.

    Kentucky remains at home this week with a mid-week against Tennessee. UK and the Lady Vols will meet for the third consecutive season on ESPNU. This year’s matchup begins at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, Oct. 12.

    Kentucky’s defensive effort held an opponent to a negative hitting percentage for the sixth time under Skinner’s tutelage. UK last held a team to a negative clip was in a 3-0 victory over Georgia in 2010. The last opponent to registered 20 or fewer kills was Tennessee State in 2008.

    UK charted six blocks, but the defensive front was a constant factor for Alabama’s attackers. Freshman Lauren O’Conner and senior Becky Pavan both recorded three rejections. Junior libero Stephanie Klefot led the back row defensive effort with a match-high 12 digs. Freshman Jackie Napper totaled eight scoops and sophomore Jessi Greenberg posted six to lead the way. Seven different Wildcats recorded four or more digs in the win.

    On the offensive front, the Blue and White posted a .368 hitting percentage with 45 kills. Sophomore Whitney Billings reached double-figures for the second consecutive match to lead the way with 11 hammers today. Junior Ashley Frazier notched nine kills and O’Conner chipped in with eight. Senior Ann Armes added six, and Pavan knocked down five. Kentucky’s offense also added a season-high 10 aces with O’Conner and Klefot both recording a trio.

    Setter Christine Hartmann continues to direct a balanced attack with nine players recording at least one kill in today’s match. Hartmann totaled 39 dimes in the win. The junior from St. Charles, Ill., has led the Wildcats to an above .300 hitting percentage in three consecutive Sunday matches.

    The Blue and White earned a 25-12 opening set victory to set the tone early. Three players recorded three kills and Klefot led the defense with five scoops to begin the match.

    Alabama scored the opening two points, but UK would then go on a 5-0 run to claim a 5-2 advantage following a kill from Billings. UK then strung together a 6-0 scoring rally to earn a 19-7 advantage midway through the set. Billings and O’Conner capped the set with consecutive kills from the opening win.

    Kentucky’s offense exploded for 19 kills on a blazing .598 hitting clip in the second frame. Billings led the charge with six kills on a marvelous .714 hitting clip. Hartmann passed out 17 assists in the 25-8 win.

    The home team earned a quick 6-0 start with Pavan contributing a pair of kills and teaming up with O’Conner for a block. Billings led a run with three four kills in a five-point stretch to push the lead to 22-6, before an attacking error from the Tide lifted UK to the 25-8 win a 2-0 lead into the locker room.

    The Wildcats finished the match with a 25-17 final set victory. Frazier led the attack with four kills, while Klefot paced the defensive effort with a trio of digs. The junior from Louisville also added all three of her aces in the frame.

    UK’s offense began with seven aces in the set. Three players tallied two or more in the set to jump-start the finish. Napper began the set with back-to-back service aces and UK never looked back. Billings capped the match with a final kill that sliced the defense.


    Stellar Back Row Play Leads No. 13 Gator Volleyball to Sweep of LSU

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 13 Florida volleyball team had one of its best defensive performances of the season, registering 52 digs in a 3-set sweep of LSU, 3-0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-8). The Gators (13-3, 6-1 SEC) held the Tigers to .027 hitting percentage, the lowest SEC opponent hitting percentage since Florida held Alabama to a .021 hitting clip on Sept. 27, 2009.

    “We asked the team before the match if we could match LSU’s defensive efforts,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “Obviously our team answered the call. It was our best floor defense performance of the season. There were some great rallies. Balls that I thought, everybody thought, were dead balls, the players just kept them in play. Some really good things happened in that match. LSU’s great offensive players never really got on track.”

    The Gators held all of LSU’s hitters to single-digit kills, as three Tigers hit negative and no player hit above .333, despite Florida not registering a single block until the third set. The play of redshirt freshman libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) proved to be a difference maker for the Gators, registering 16 digs, her highest dig output in a sweep this season.

    “Taylor has such game to her,” Wise said. “She took some extra reps yesterday. She felt like she left some digs on the court Friday night and asked for some extra work, and she brought that work ethic. She saw the game from a defensive standpoint the way she (usually) sees it in terms of serve receive. Taylor had a great match today.”

    Florida was led by senior outside hitters Stephanie Ferrell (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) with 11 kills apiece. Jaeckel led the Gators with three service aces, tying her season high. Junior right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) had her second errorless performance of the season with eight kills on 13 swings, hitting a match-high .615.

    Freshman defensive specialist Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.) had a fantastic night in the back court, registering eight digs. Wiggs, along with middle blockers Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), posted two blocks each for the Gators. The Gators hit .368 in the match, courtesy of 38 combined assists by senior Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) and sophomore Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.).

    The first set began with a rally but Florida quickly took over the momentum thanks to a kill by Wiggs, sparking a 5-0 run with Ferrell behind the service line, 6-2. The Gators continued to pound away, forcing a timeout at 13-5 after a Ferrell blast in the center of the Tigers’ defense. Coming out of the timeout, LSU clawed its way back into the set with a 4-0 run, reducing the Florida lead to 13-9. A Wiggs kill ignited a 4-0 run to extend the lead, 21-14. A Jaeckel service ace put the Gators at set point, and Ferrell finished off the frame with the final strike, 25-16.

    The second set started in favor of the Gators, as Smith slammed the first point into the Tiger defense. A combination of good communication and great defense kept the Gators rallying for each point. Murphy set Wiggs for an attack that pushed the lead to 6-3. The Tigers fought back and were able to tie the score at 12 The teams continued to rally before Florida called its first timeout at 21-21. Ferrell’s back-to-back kills put the Gators at set point and forced LSU into a timeout, 24-23. A Tiger attacking error ended the set, 25-23, with the Orange and Blue going into intermission with a 2-0 advantage.

    The Tigers took an initial 2-0 lead over the Gators to begin the third stanza. A blast from Murphy sparked Florida on a 3-0 run and took its first lead of the set, 3-2. The Tigers battled and tied the score at 3, but the Gators took the lead and never looked back. Florida’s first block of the match proved to be the trigger for the Gators, as UF ended the set on a 19-5 run. A Smith kill sparked Florida’s largest run of the match, as the Gators scored eight straight points behind Jaeckel’s serve. All eight of Florida’s block assists came in the third set, as LSU hit -.161. The Gators took the set and the match, 25-8.

    “Our goal as a team tonight was to come out and match their defensive energy,” Unroe said. “They are one of the top teams in SEC defensively, and they have a great libero. So, our goal was just to come out and match that, and turns out we’re a lot scrappier (than we thought). That was our goal and we definitely succeeded. It was a great game all around.”



    STARKVILLE, Miss. --- Caitlin Rance piled up a career-high 26 kills and joined MSU’s career top 10 for kills as Mississippi State (9-8/4-4 SEC) rallied for a five-set win over SEC Western Division rival Auburn (9-9/3-5 SEC) Sunday afternoon at the Newell-Grissom Building. With the win, televised regionally by Cox Sports Television, Mississippi State moved into second place in the SEC West a half-game behind defending SEC champion LSU.

    It was the third consecutive five-set Sunday win for the Volleyball Bulldogs, who with 12 league matches remaining have already surpassed their 2010 mark for SEC wins.  State has now won three of its last four matches.

    The Bulldogs claimed the opening set 25-22 and, after Auburn gained momentum in the match with 25-23 and 25-18 wins in sets two and three, battled back to win the match with 25-20 and 15-11 decisions in the final two stanzas.

    “Caitlin was simply awesome,” said MSU head coach Jenny Hazelwood of the standout senior from Kingwood, Texas. “All of our opponents know that she’s our go-to player and she continues to find ways to lead the team. She had another incredible weekend (46 kills/22 digs/.307).”

    With the Bulldogs trailing 2-1 in the match and 15-11 in the fourth set, Rance went to work, reeling off five kills and a block as State out-pointed Auburn 14-5 down the stretch to force a deciding fifth set. Rance had 10 of MSU’s 23 kills over those final two sets.

    Rance backed her personal-best 26 kills with 14 digs for her eighth double-double in 2011 and the 23rd of her career. Today she moved ahead of Brianne Smedley (1997-2000) for 10th place among MSU’s career kills leaders and with 975 is closing in on becoming the 10th Bulldog to reach the 1,000-kill career milestone.

    Auburn scored the first two points of the fifth set before State went to work, taking control with a 6-1 run sparked by a pair of kills and a block by freshman middle blocker Lainey Wyman. MSU extended lead to 13-9 and, with a crisp match-best .409 attack percentage, salted away the win with a 15-11 decision. Wyman registered 14 kills, hit .357 for the match and paced MSU at the net with five blocks. Steinwedell had 13 key kills and 14 digs to notch her second double-double of the season.

    “Faith (Steinwedell) and Lainey (Wyman) were outstanding and HP (Hillary Parker) just missed a career-best mark for digs,” Hazelwood continued.  “We had so many contribute today, and we needed them all to beat a good Auburn team.”

    MSU lead Auburn 68 to 62 in kills, .249 to .228 in hitting and 77 to 72 in digs. The Tigers commanded control at the net with a 15-8 advantage in total team blocking. 

    State’s junior libero Hillary Parker recorded a match-leading 27 digs, one shy of matching a personal-best.

    A quartet of Tigers reached double figures in kills. Courtney McDonald and Kelly Fidero registered 13 each. Camila Jeronsky added 11 on 25 error-free attacks while Sarah Bullock finished with 11 and backed that on defense with 18 digs.


    Tennessee Volleyball Surges Back, Defeats Ole Miss in Five

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 19 University of Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team proved it was resilient group on Sunday, overcoming a 2-1 deficit in the match to defeat Ole Miss in five sets, 25-22, 17-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-13, in front of the ninth-largest UT crowd of 1,244 fans at Thompson-Boling Arena.

    “There is a lot of experience and a lot of athleticism on Ole Miss and to be honest with you, I don’t know how they don’t have more wins in the SEC,” Lady Vol head coach Rob Patrick said. “This was the type of match I was afraid that they were going to play. I didn’t think they played over their heads. I thought they played the way Ole Miss plays.”

    With the win, the Orange and White improves to 15-2 overall and are still perfect in Southeastern Conference play, with an 8-0 mark against league foes. The win is also the 11th in a row for the Lady Vols, which is tied for the second-longest current winning streak in the nation.

    “The most pressure that a team could have is when they are supposed to win and then are in a position to lose,” Patrick said. “This team plays very fearlessly. You wouldn’t know by looking at their faces and the way they are reacting if the match is in the fifth game or in the third game. They look and play the same and usually that is what you get with very mature, very experience teams.”

    Sophomore Kelsey Robinson notched her 12th double-double of the season, as she had a 20-20 match, blasting 20 kills and digging up 20 against the Rebels. By having 20 kills versus OM, she has now registered 20 or more kills in nine matches this year.

    Junior Leslie Cikra and freshman Tiffany Baker were also offensive forces for the Big Orange. Cikra connected on 16 kills, while Baker converted on 10 of her 19 swings to notch a hitting percentage of .368.

    DeeDee Harrison, a junior, hit a team-best .462 against the Rebels, as she blasted eight kills and led the team in blocks with six, including one solo putback. Sophomore Ellen Mullens was only behind Robinson in digs, as she had 14 on the afternoon. Freshman Nikki Brice just missed tallying double digits in kills, as she dug up nine Ole Miss attacks.

    Assists wise, freshman Mary Pollmiller again led the way for the Lady Vols with 52, in addition to nine digs. Sophomore Kylann Scheidt appeared in her just her second match of the season after recovering from surgery. Against OM, she registered six kills and a dig.

    After Ole Miss scored the first point of set one, the Lady Vols rattled off the next three by way of a Harrison kill that tied the match at one, a block by Harrison and Cikra and another Harrison kill off an overpass. Tennessee would keep the lead at two, 4-2 and 5-3, before Ole Miss rallied to score the next four and take a 7-5 lead.

    A Rebel service error, followed by an Ole Miss attack error knotted the match at seven all. OM would rebound, scoring the next two to take a 9-7 lead. The Lady Vols cut the deficit to one on five occasions, 9-8, 10-9, 11-10, 12-11 and 13-12 before they could even the match at 13-13. The Rebels then scored three straight to make the score 16-13.

    An OM miscue and a Robinson blast cut the Rebel lead to one, 16-15, but the Rebels countered by notching the next two points. With the score at 18-15, the Lady Vols rallied, scoring five of the next six to grab a 20-19 advantage, which was their first lead since the match was 5-4. During that run, the Lady Vols got a pair of kills from Harrison, along with Harrison and Robinson combining for a block.

    The opening frame was tied at 20, 21 and 22 before the Big Orange obtained the lead by way of a Cikra kill that made the score 23-22, followed by a Robinson kill and a Kolosky block, which gave UT the set, 25-22.

    During the opening set, Robinson had six kills, while Harrison registered five of her own. The Lady Vols outhit OM, .371-.189, with Robinson hitting at a clip of .750.

    In the second set, the Rebels responded in a big way, as it lead wire-to-wire. Kills by Cikra and Harrison evened things at two apiece, but Ole Miss would score the next three and never look back. Down four, 11-7, UT looked as if it would storm back, scoring the next four to even the set at 11. In that span, the Lady Vols took advantage of two OM miscues in addition to a block by Sahagian and Harrison and a service ace by Robinson.

    However, Ole Miss returned the favor, going on a 4-0 rally of its own to make the score 15-11. The Lady Vols could not get closer than four down the stretch, 18-14, 19-15 and 20-16, as the Rebels scored the last three points of the set, winning 25-17 and evening the match at one apiece.

    Following the second set break, the squads traded 3-0 runs early in the third frame. With the score 2-0 in UT’s favor, Ole Miss would score the next three to take the lead, 3-2. Tennessee bounced back with a 3-0 rally of its own, by way of a Robinson kill, a Robinson ace and an OM attack error, as UT regained the lead 6-4.

    The Rebels tied the match at six, as the teams proceeded to trade the next four points. At 8-8, Ole Miss would score the next two and five of the next seven to grab a 13-10 lead. A kill by Baker got the Lady Vols to within two, 13-11, but it would be the closest the team would get for the remainder of the set.

    With OM leading 15-11, the two squads went back and forth until the Rebels led the set, 19-16. An attack error by the Rebels along with a Robinson blast kept the Lady Vols in the set, 22-19, but Ole Miss would score the next two to get itself within a point of winning the set, 24-19. After another Robinson scorcher and a block from Cikra and Harrison, Ole Miss won the set off of a kill by Kara Morgan, 25-21, and took a 2-1 lead in the match.

    Down but not out, the Orange and White gutted out the fourth set. Robinson and Cikra led the charge, combining for nine kills. The set opened with a Rebel service error and a solo block by Harrison to get UT out to a quick 2-0 advantage. Ole Miss would however rattle off the next three, but a kill by Robinson evened the score at 3-3.

    With the set tied at five all, OM went on another 3-0 rally, but a Baker blast and an OM miscue cut the Lady Vol deficit to one, 8-7. The Lady Vols finally caught up to Ole Miss at 12, when Mullens registered her 11th serving ace of the season.

    Another 3-0 run by the Rebels that made the score 15-12, UT tied the match up at 15 after a Cikra kill and back-to-back blasts from Baker. Down 16-15, UT rallied to score the next four, as kills from Baker and Robinson, plus a block by Robinson and freshman Shealyn Kolosky and a OM attack error gave UT a 19-16 advantage.

    That would be all that Tennessee would need as a pair of Cikra kills made the score 23-19 and she ended the set with another, as UT won the set 25-21, to force a fifth set.

    The fifth and final set was not for the faint of heart, as it was a back-and-forth battle from beginning to end, featuring 11 ties and three lead changes. Down 2-1, Cikra propelled the Lady Vols with three straight kills to give UT the lead at 4-2. Ole Miss tied the match at four, but blasts from Baker gave Tennessee the lead twice, 5-4 and 6-5.

    All tied up at six, a service error gave the Orange and White the lead 7-6. After OM again knotted the match up, this time at seven, a Robinson kill regained an 8-7 advantage for UT.  Knotted up at nine all, Ole Miss would score the next two to force Tennessee to call a timeout. Cikra, who had four kills in the final set, cut the OM lead to one, 11-10, and an attack error by the Rebels made the score 11-11.

    After back-to-back service errors that made the score 12-12, Ole Miss would grab its final lead of the set off a Whitney Craven kill that made the score 13-12. A kill from Baker tied the set a 13 apiece and a huge solo block from Kolosky gave the Lady Vols a slim 14-13 lead.

    With junior Jasmine Brown serving for the set and match, a ball handling error by OM gave Tennessee the win, 15-13, and a thrilling comeback victory.