|Arkansas 3, Georgia 0
|Missouri 3, LSU 1
|Kentucky 3, Texas A&M 2
|Tennessee 3, South Carolina 1
|Auburn 3, Alabama 1
Straight-set win in weekend finale at Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team posted a straight-set win over Georgia (25-16, 25-23, 25-18) Sunday afternoon at the Ramsey Center in Athens, Ga. The Razorbacks were paced by a match-high 12 kills from Roslandy Acosta and held the Bulldogs to a .067 hitting percentage. With the win, Arkansas improved to 11-3 overall and 2-1 through the first two weekends of Southeastern Conference play.
“It was a good win for us today,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “Our players were focused all match and knew what needed to be done. It was a great match for them and I’m very proud of the way they played today against Georgia. We had great balance throughout the match. Raymariely did a great job running the show and our passers did a good job of working to make things happen.”
Trailing by a point early in the first set, the Razorbacks reeled off seven points in a row to take a 9-3 lead. During the run, Acosta had three kills and Jasmine Norton collected a service ace. The Razorbacks maintained their advantage and increased the lead to double digits, 18-8, on a kill by Raymariely Santos. Acosta brought the team to set point with her seventh kill of the game. On the next point, Liz Fortado and Janeliss Torres-Lopez teamed up for a block to close out the set.
In the second set, the score was tied seven times early before Arkansas took a 13-12 lead off an Amanda Anderson kill. The Razorbacks held on to the lead for the remainder of the game. An ace by Ashley Vazquez and kill from Acosta extended the lead to 18-13, forcing a timeout from Georgia (8-5, 2-2 SEC). Norton and Torres-Lopez combined for a block to give Arkansas set point, 24-17. The Bulldogs won the next six points but Norton found the floor on the team’s seventh set point to end the threat and give her team a 2-0 match lead.
The home team took an early 6-4 lead in the third set but Arkansas fought back to take an 8-7 lead after a block from Fortado and Torres-Lopez. As they did in the second, the Razorbacks maintained the lead for the rest of the way. Emily Helm had an ace to give her team a 21-16 lead and force Georgia into its final timeout of the match. Three of the next four points for the Razorbacks came on kills by Norton, including the match winner. After a slow start Sunday, the Razorback senior tallied seven of her nine kills in the third set.
“If you want to win championships, you have to be able to win on the road,” Pulliza said. “That’s a reality for any team. We want to win a championship. That is something we’ve talked about. It’s one of our goals and we’re working hard to get there.”
With the win, Arkansas improved to 4-1 in matches played away from Fayetteville. The team began the weekend with a four-set win against No. 21 Tennessee in Knoxville, the program’s first win on the Lady Volunteers’ home court since the 2007 season.
Mizzou Fends Off LSU for 3-1 Win in Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE, La. – Sophomore Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) did it all again for the Tigers they escaped SEC West Division-favorite LSU with a 3-1 (25-20, 25-23, 21-25, 25-22) win at the Maravich Center on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 23). Little again was dominant, posting a team-best 15 kills on 34 errorless attacks while pitching in seven blocks (four solo, three assists) as she accounted for a team-best 21.5 total points. Mizzou is now 11-3 on the season and 3-1 in league play, placing it second in the SEC East.
“This was a great win for us,” head coach Wayne Kreklow said. “We had a tough match Friday night at Florida and to bounce back and beat an LSU team that was picked to win the SEC West says a lot about the toughness of this team. I thought we did a great job offensively in the first two sets and then the match was very defensive after the intermission and I thought our team did a great job of adjusting to the play.”
Little’s 15 kills and 34 attacks are new career-highs and her seven blocks will undoubtedly keep her in the league lead in blocks per set during SEC play. Little was the headliner for the Tigers on Sunday, but she certainly wasn’t the Tigers’ only offensive option as sophomore Taylor Simpson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) posted 14 kills on .256 hitting while All-American Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) posted her third double-double of the season with 12 kills and 13 digs. Junior setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) was sensational as usual, dishing 47 assists and pulling in 14 digs, good for her team-leading seventh double-double of the season.
Not to go unmentioned was the play of the Tiger back row, which collected 87 digs, 27 of which came from libero Sarah Meister (San Digeo, Calif.) as she reset her career-high. LSU was very pesky defensively, corralling 98 digs as well. But the play of Meister and Jade Hayes (15) and Niki Collier (10) along with Kreklow and Henning gave Mizzou five players over 10 digs.
Mizzou put on an offensive onslaught in the first set, hitting .342 with 16 kills on 34 attacks as it ran away with the frame, 25-20. Simpson was the top attacker for Mizzou with six kills on 11 errorless attacks while Little added three kills on eight errorless attacks in the first set. LSU actually led 12-10 after a service error from Henning, but Mizzou went on an 8-3 run to take an 18-15 lead and closed the set from there.
Mizzou looked like it would run away with the second set as Kreklow appeared to get a kill to make the score 15-10 in favor of the Tigers, but she was called for a lift and that gave LSU a point and life in the set. Now at 14-11 instead of 15-10, LSU went on a 4-1 run to tie the set at 15-15 after a kill from Helen Boyle and took its first lead at 18-17 on a kill from Maddie Jones. LSU ran the lead to 22-20, but the Tigers did a great job defending their serve and scored five of the next six points to win the set, 25-23. At 23-23, the Tigers got a huge dig from Meister and then in the same rally got a big block from Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) and Henning of LSU’s Boyle to tie the set at 24 all. Following that point, Boyle went up again on the left side and Henning and Wilson got up early and forced an attack error, sealing the set win.
Through two sets, the Tigers relied heavily on the attack duo of Simpson and Little, who combined for 18 kills on 41 errorless swings (.439) hitting. Simpson had nine kills on 24 attacks while Little had nine kills on just 17 attacks. Kreklow dished 26 assists and guided the team to .318 hitting through the first two sets. Meister led all players with 13 digs through the first two sets.
The Tigers again jumped out to a lead over LSU in the third and held a slim advantage at 17-16 until a three-point run from LSU really put the set out of reach for Mizzou as it fell, 25-21. Mizzou struggled in serve receive in the third set and was unable to run the high-tempo offense due to the poor passing as Mizzou hit just .167 with six attack errors in the frame. The set win forced a fourth set for the Tigers.
The fourth set was a wild affair as there were plenty of back-and-forth rallies as both team’s back rows were playing very well. In particular there were two late in the set, one coming with Mizzou on top 19-18. In that point, Regan Peltier (Nixa, Mo.) tallied kill on a left-side swing to give Mizzou a 20-18 lead in the set. Mizzou ultimately opened up a 23-20 lead, but LSU cut the gap to 23-22, but the Tigers scored the final two points on a kill from Simpson and an attack error from Desiree Elliot.
Wildcats Snap Aggies’ Nine-Match Winning Streak in Five
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – 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.
NO. 21 LADY VOLS CLIP GAMECOCKS IN FOUR SETS
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Led by junior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson, who registered her 11th consecutive double-double with a match-high 21 kills and 22 digs, the No. 21 University of Tennessee volleyball team earned a 3-1 (25-14, 25-20, 23-25, 25-23) victory over South Carolina on Sunday afternoon in front of 1,054 people at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Lady Vols handed the Gamecocks their second loss of the season as the Garnet and Black fell to 13-2, 2-2 in Southeastern Conference play while UT improved to 9-4 overall and 2-2 in conference action.
“We really had to make sure that – at longer periods of time – we were focused in on what our responsibilities were,” said head coach Rob Patrick. “I don’t think we did that very well against Arkansas. That’s what we worked on yesterday in practice. There are no bad teams in the SEC in volleyball. They were 13-1 coming in. Their RPI is I think No. 35. They are one of the top 40 teams in the country, playing good teams and winning good matches. If we can play like we did the first two sets, that’s how good we are and can be.”
Robinson, who becomes the first Lady Vol to ever reach five-career 20/20 matches, was joined by sophomore Mary Pollmiller in the double-double club as the setter finished the match with 26 assists and 10 digs despite splitting time with freshman Bianca Arellano on the setting front. It was her fifth double-double of the season. Arellano added a career-best 25 helpers in the match.
Tennessee outhit, outset, outdug and outblocked South Carolina throughout the match. UT finished with a 62-45 kill advantage (.273-.110 kill pct.), 60-45 set advantage, 71-57 dig advantage and posted 13 team blocks to South Carolina’s eight.
Redshirt senior Kayla Jeter and sophomore Tiffany Baker also had double-digit kills, finishing with 12 and 11, respectively. Jeter’s 12 kills were a season-best as she finished with a .375 attacking clip.
“It was huge for us to get other people involved in the offense and I thought the setters did a tremendous job of throwing the ball around,” said Patrick. “Not always just setting the person you expect or the easiest person, but they were able to throw the ball around a little bit. They got our middles involved in transition and our right side involved so that was something I was very happy with.”
Defensively, Ellen Mullins tied a season-high with 22 digs. Baker and redshirt freshman Mercedes Vaughn each had five blocks, while DeeDee Harrison rejected four balls. Baker’s three solo blocks were a career-best.
The Lady Vols hit .385, held the Gamecocks to a -.028 attacking clip in the opening set and used a 10-0 run to win the opening game by a convincing 25-14 margin. Robinson led the team effort with four kills and a .571 attacking mark. Jeter, Harrison and Baker all added a pair of kills in the game. The 10-0 run consisted of three Robinson kills and a block from the junior co-captain.
Tennessee hit over .300 once again in the second frame, as Robinson, Baker and Jeter combined for 13 kills to secure a 25-20 victory and head into the break with a 2-0 lead in the match. Arellano tallied nine helpers in the set. Vaughn recorded two blocks in the game, including one solo.
South Carolina took an 8-2 lead out of the break, but the Orange & White responded shortly after with a 6-0 run, which included four attacking errors on the Gamecocks, to level the set at 10. After two quick points for USC, the Lady Vols took their first lead of the set with a 3-0 run at 13-12. Later in the frame, Robinson recorded a momentum-shifting solo block to spring a 4-0 UT run, but the Gamecocks rallied late to win the game by a 25-23 margin. Robinson had eight kills in the set and three digs to reach her 38th-career double-double. There were eight ties and four lead changes in the third.
The Gamecocks began the fourth set on a 4-1 run, but the Lady Vols responded with a 5-0 run of their own to take a 9-7 lead. Another burst by Tennessee capped by back-to-back kills by Leslie Cikra gave the Lady Vols a 15-11 edge. The longest rally of the match, a 17-play bout went in favor of UT when Baker slammed her ninth kill of the match to put the Lady Vols up 18-14 and force USC into their final timeout of the match. The Gamecocks pulled within one at the end of the game but the momentum, and long rallies, fell in favor of the Lady Vols as they earned their ninth victory of the season with a 25-23 fifth-set win.
AUBURN VOLLEYBALL WINS SIXTH STRAIGHT OVER ALABAMA, 3-1
AUBURN, Ala. – Senior Sarah Bullock recorded her 1,000th career dig, and Courtney McDonald and Chloe Rowand posted career-highs in blocks as the Auburn volleyball team defeated archrival Alabama for the sixth consecutive time, 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-21, 25-18) Sunday afternoon before 1,146 fans at the Student Activities Center.
Auburn (12-2, 3-1 SEC) has surpassed its win total from the 2011 season – the Tigers went 11-19 last season – just two weeks into conference play. The Tigers controlled every statistical category in the match, out-hitting Alabama (12-4, 1-3 SEC) .287 to .171, amassing 62 kills to Alabama’s 47, and winning the digs battle, 69-55.
“I’m really happy with today’s win,” Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. “We didn’t pass the best early in the match. I think we had to figure some ways to get them out of system. But we’ve been doing a good job lately of making adjustments on the (opponent) defensively. In games three and four, we made the changes we needed to, and we were able to go on some runs.
Sunday’s crowd of 1,146 was the third-biggest in Auburn history and the second straight match against Alabama to top the 1,000-fan mark. The near-record crowd was witness to the Tigers’ sixth straight victory over Alabama, Auburn’s second-longest winning streak in the series that dates back to 1974. Auburn won 10 straight over the Tide from 1995-99.
“It’s a big thing for us to have a big crowd like we did today,” Nold said. “A big crowd pumps up our team when they’re struggling a bit and can propel them forward. That kind of crowd, it makes a big difference for us.”
Bullock became the fifth player in Auburn history to amass 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career as she recorded 16 kills and 15 digs today. Her 10th dig of the afternoon, which came in the third set, moved her into the 1,000-1,000 club, and her new career total of 1,005 digs moves her into seventh all-time at Auburn. Bullock also had five blocks in the match (3 assist, 2 solo).
“Obviously, we’re proud of her for getting to 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs,” Nold said. “We expect a lot of her. We rely on her for a lot of different things. For a setter to know you’ve always got someone like her to go to, it’s pretty comforting. I thought she took advantage of the opportunities that were there, and she kept us in system, which was what we needed.”
Auburn’s blocking was outstanding as the Tigers stuffed 15 Alabama attempts, tying the school record for team blocks in a four-set match. The Tigers previously had 15 blocks in a four-set loss to Tennessee last season. McDonald had a career-high nine blocks, the most in a single match by an Auburn player since Jersonsky had nine in Auburn’s 2010 NCAA Tournament win over Missouri State. Rowand had a career-high seven. Katherine Culwell had two solo blocks, and Camila Jersonsky was involved in two blocks as well.
“We had some game plans coming in,” Nold said. “In games one and two, we didn’t really do a good job of executing. But we tried to keep reiterating the same things over and over. A lot of times, it’s just trying to get comfort with a team. It took a little longer today than it did Friday (against South Carolina), but once we made that adjustment, they trusted it and started making some big plays.”
Three other Auburn players recorded double-digit kills. Culwell had her second straight double-double with 14 kills and 13 digs, Camila Jersonsky finished with 12 kills, and McDonald posted 10 kills. Junior Chelsea Wintzinger led Auburn with a season-high 35 assists, and Sarah Wroblicky had a match-high 17 digs.
Alabama was led by Laura Steiner with 12 kills and Andrea McQuaid with 15 digs.
Auburn took the first set 25-19 after hitting .375 in the set on the strength of 17 kills and just five errors. Culwell had six kills and six digs in the set. The Tigers gained the first advantage 13-9 after a 4-0 run forced an Alabama timeout, and Auburn never looked back, moving ahead 20-12. Alabama would cut the margin to 23-19, but kills from McDonald and Wintzinger put the first set away.
Alabama’s serving and passing controlled the second set as the Tide took a 25-23 win to knot the match at a set apiece. Auburn fell in an early hole as Alabama’s service game took the Tigers out of system, but they fought back to tie the score at 13-13-. But from there, Alabama went on a 5-1 run to take an 18-14 lead and then had four set point tries at 24-20. Auburn fought off three straight to cut it to a one-point game at 24-23, but a kill from Katherine White gave the Tide the second-set win.
The Tigers went back on top with a 25-21 win in set three where Auburn hit a robust .423 (15 kills, 4 errors). Five kills from Bullock and three each from Rowand and Jersonsky, along with three block assists from Rowand and McDonald, gave Auburn an early advantage and held off a couple of late Alabama rallies. After four ties and two lead changes early, Auburn pulled ahead to an 18-14 lead before Alabama cut it to a one-point game at 21-20 with a 7-3 run. A block from Rowand and McDonald plus a kill from Bullock made it 23-20, and a kill from Jersonsky gave Auburn a set point try. The Tigers took a 2-1 lead when an Alabama service error ended the set.
Auburn had seven total blocks in the first three sets but went wild in the fourth with eight team blocks, taking a 25-18 win to clinch the match. A 6-0 run that included three straight points from McDonald – two blocks and a kill - gave Auburn a 13-6 lead. Alabama would get no closer than six points the rest of the way. In the fourth set alone, McDonald had five block assists, Rowand had four, Bullock had one solo and one assist, and Culwell had two solo blocks. All eight Alabama hitting errors in the set were the result of Auburn blocks as the Tiger defense held the Tide to an .027 hitting percentage in the final game.