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    SEC Volleyball Today: October 5

    volleyBALL RESULTS
    Kentucky 3, Ole Miss 0
    Florida 3, Arkansas 0
    Auburn 3, Mississippi State 0
    Tennessee 3, Missouri 2
    Texas A&M 3, South Carolina 0

    Wildcats Sweep Ole Miss for Fourth-Straight Win

    OXFORD, Miss. – With a 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-19) sweep at Ole Miss on Friday night the Kentucky volleyball team has now strung together four consecutive victories. The loss for the Rebels was their first in the Gillom Sports Center this season. Kentucky was paced by a team-high 11 kills from sophomore Lauren O’Conner as the Blue and White blasted the Rebels for 45 kills on a blazing .548 hitting clip for the match.

    “We were very focused tonight and stayed poised on the road,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “I’m proud of how we executed and stayed in tune during each and every point. Kayla (Tronick) did a great job coming in for us tonight and getting some big kills and blocks.”

    Tronick earned her first career start and turned in a 10-kill performance on a staggering .833 hitting percentage. O’Conner had 11 hammers on a .556 clip. Both led the way with a trio of blocks as well.

    Kentucky pushes its record to 10-6 overall and 4-2 in Southeastern Conference action. Ole Miss drops to 8-7 and 2-4 in league action. The Wildcats return to action at No. 11 Florida on Sunday. First serve is slated for 3 p.m. ET.

    Senior setter Christine Hartmann led the balanced attack with five attackers charting seven or more kills for the match as she notched 38 assists on the night. Junior Alexandra Morgan totaled eight hammers with junior Whitney Billings and senior Ashley Frazier each connecting for seven.

    Senior Stephanie Klefot led the defensive effort with 15 digs for the match. Sophomore Jackie Napper added eight with Billings earning six.

    Kentucky opened to a 14-11 lead in the opening set of action, connecting for six kills in the early going. O’Conner opened the match hot with a quartet of kills and an ace to give UK the early advantage. Out of an Ole Miss timeout, Frazier came up with a huge solo rejection to keep the rally going. The Wildcats continued to keep the pressure on stretching its lead to 19-14 after consecutive kills from Tronick to force the Rebels to use its final timeout. Kentucky closed out the frame on a 6-3 run to earn a 25-17 opening set victory.

    The Wildcats utilized a blistering .650 attacking percentage in the opening set as UK struck for 14 kills on 20 attempts. O’Conner had six kills to lead the way and Tronick logged four on a perfect attacking clip. Kentucky held the Rebels to 12 kills on a mere .188 clip and turned back three Ole Miss attacks.

    UK charged out to a 10-6 lead to begin the second frame as Frazier capped the run with an ace to force the Rebels to burn an early timeout. Kentucky continued to stretch its lead, opening up a six-point advantage midway through the frame at 17-11. The run was highlighted by a solo block from Hartmann. Ole Miss fired back with a 3-1 run of its own, but Hartmann quelled the threat with consecutive points out of a Wildcat timeout. The senior won a joust at the net before serving up an ace. UK benefited from a Rebel serving error to win the frame 25-18 and take a 2-0 lead into the locker room.

    Kentucky charted 11 kills on .308 hitting led by three from Morgan and Frazier each. Ole Miss posted 10 hammers on .133 hitting.

    The visitors raced out to a 4-0 advantage in the opening set with Tronick leading the charge. The freshman posted a solo rejection and had an authoritative kill in the run to force the Rebels into a very early timeout. The Rebels clawed back and tied the match at seven, and from there the teams swapped points back and forth. UK eventually was able to shake free for a three-point swing to go ahead 17-14 to force the Rebels to use their final timeout. The gap was enough to propel the Wildcats to a final 25-19 set victory for the match.
     




    No. 11 Gator Volleyball Blocks Razorbacks, 3-0, for Eighth Sweep of 2012

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The No. 11 University of Florida volleyball team (12-2, 6-0 SEC) put on a blocking showcase on Friday evening, as the Gators swept Arkansas, 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-15), to stay undefeated in SEC play. The Razorbacks fall to 13-4 on the year and 4-2 in conference action.

    "On a night where we just had a hard time getting on track offensively, and a lot of that had to do with Arkansas, it was the defense that was the story of the match," Florida head coach Mary Wise said. "Betsy Smith was so good, especially early. Our two middles were part of a lot of blocks and they really controlled the net."

    Florida's middles were red-hot on Friday night, as senior Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) stuffed a season-high seven blocks against the Razorbacks to go along with six kills, and junior Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) registered 11 kills and six blocks on the evening. Florida freshman outside hitter Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) notched a match-high 13 kills against Arkansas, adding six digs and four blocks.

    The Gators' 16.5 team blocks are the most in a 3-set match since Nov. 25, 2006, and the Orange and Blue held Arkansas to their lowest hitting percentage of the season (.119). Florida is undefeated at home all-time against Arkansas (15-0) and the Razorbacks have not won a set in Gainesville since Oct. 17, 2004.

    "Arkansas is such a good offensive team; they've been lighting it up as of late, so there's an advantage of playing a team a second time," Wise commented. "Our younger players are older and our older players are pretty smart."

    Freshman Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.) hit .250 with six kills and two blocks against Arkansas, while sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) patrolled the Florida back court with two aces and 13 digs and sophomore defensive specialist Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.) contributed nine scoops.

    No Razorback hit in double figures on Friday night and while Arkansas outhit Florida in the first set, .216-.209, the Razorbacks were unable to get past the formidable Florida block.

    "Arkansas is a good team, and they never backed down," Mann said. "I thought they played really well tonight. They definitely laid it on the court."

    The teams traded points to open the match but the Razorbacks slowly began to pull away with Florida down 10-7. A stuff block by Brauneis and Smith stopped the Razorback run as the Gators inched within two, down 10-8, but Arkansas continued to push and forced a Florida timeout at 13-9. Recek tipped a kill off the block to pull within two and a Smith overpass kill tied the set at 14-14, forcing a Razorback timeout.

    An Unroe service ace out of the timeout continued the Gator momentum and a Smith solo stuff put Florida ahead, 17-15. A Brauneis overpass kill kept the two-point Gator advantage, 19-17, and a second Smith solo block got the Gators to the double-decade mark, 20-18. Arkansas went out on a 3-0 run to overtake the lead and force a Florida timeout, UF down 21-20. Mann, Mallette and Wiggs teamed up for a roof to take back the lead, 22-21. A Mallette kill out of the Arkansas timeout pushed the Florida lead to two, 23-21. A big swing on the left for Mallette set up set point and Wiggs found the seam in the block to give the Gators the first set, 25-23.

    Arkansas jumped out to a quick lead in set two, but Recek put together three straight heads-up plays to tie the set, 4-4. The teams continued to battle, as Arkansas took a three-point lead at 8-5. Florida went on a three-point run of its own, tying the set at 8 apiece with a Monserez service ace. The Gators continued to surge, jumping ahead with three straight kills by the Orange and Blue, 11-9. Back-to-back blocks for Florida put the Gators ahead, 15-10. Arkansas strung together three straight to pull within two of Florida, 16-14.

    The Orange and Blue called their first timeout of set two as UA came within striking distance, 17-16. A quick kill from Brauneis to Mann out of the break extended the Gator lead to two and an Unroe service ace put the Orange and Blue up three, 19-16. The Razorbacks called their second timeout of the set after an Arkansas attacking error at 21-17. A Brauneis-Smith stuff block gave the Gators set point, 24-18, and a Mallette-Smith roof ended the set in Florida's favor, 25-18.

    The third stanza was tight early on, with back-to-back Florida blocks putting the Gators ahead, 5-4. The Orange and Blue kept the single-point advantage throughout much of the first set, with the Gators getting up, 11-9, courtesy of a Mann kill. Arkansas took timeout after a Wiggs tip put Florida ahead, 13-10. A Recek-Smith stuff put the Gators up by four, 15-11, and a Recek tip to the deep corner forced a Razorback timeout at 16-11. Florida continued to surge, using a Recek-Smith stuff block to jump ahead, 19-12. A Mann solo stuff set up match point, 24-14, and it was Mann once again who put down the final kill for the Gators, 25-15.

    Florida will look to continue its hot streak, hosting Kentucky (10-6, 4-2 SEC) at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Sunday is Florida's Serving for a Cure match and fans are invited to wear pink to promote breast cancer awareness. The matchup between the Gators and the Wildcats will air live on Fox Sports Florida.

    "I thought we just stayed patient and when you do that, good things will come," Wise said. "We need good things to come on Sunday in a big way, because I think Kentucky is the hottest team in the league right now."

    "You know, we just take it one set at a time, and we see Kentucky on Sunday," Smith noted. "They're going to bring their best game, and they're playing really, really well right now. We're going to have to play even better."

    Florida is on a nine-match winning streak, dating back to Sep. 7, and has earned eight sweeps on the season. Smith attributes the streak to the team's closeness and communication.

    "I think our biggest thing is probably our team chemistry," Smith said. "If we're having a rough night, we've got each other's backs and we're always there supporting each other. In the locker room, it's kind of a jovial spirit. We're really good friends on and off the court."






    Auburn Sprints Past Mississippi State, 3-0

    AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn doubled up Mississippi State in nearly every statistical category and held the Bulldogs to a negative hitting percentage, cruising to a 3-0 victory (25-11, 25-10, 25-17) in an SEC volleyball match Friday night before 679 fans at the Student Activities Center.
     
    The Tigers (13-4, 4-3 SEC) earned a season sweep over the Bulldogs (4-11, 0-6 SEC), who have now dropped seven straight matches. Auburn also remained perfect at home on the season, improving to 6-0 on its home floor in 2012.
     
    Auburn had 40 kills to MSU’s 21, had 45 digs to MSU’s 36 and totaled 10 team blocks while the Bulldogs had just four. The Tigers hit .304 as a team, the fifth time this season the Tigers have topped the .300 mark. Auburn also held MSU to a negative hitting percentage (-.049), forcing the shorthanded Bulldogs into 26 hitting errors against 21 kills.
     
    “It was good to rebound from last weekend and get a win today,” Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. “Mississippi State is struggling a bit with their lineup, and we were able to take advantage of that. Obviously both teams could probably play better, but we’re trying to improve every day. Some things we were trying to work on, we were able to. We’ve just got to keep getting better.
     
    Tonight was Auburn’s only match of the weekend; the Tigers have their first open date of the season on Sunday before heading to Georgia and Florida next week.
     
    “I don’t think we’ve had a healthy week of practice yet this season. Two days off here comes at a perfect time. We need to let some people recuperate a little bit. We’ve got a tough stretch in front of us, and this gives us a chance to get ready for that.”
     
    Senior Sarah Bullock led Auburn with 12 kills and hit at a .400 clip with just two errors on 25 swings. She also recorded eight digs along with two blocks, and she had a pair of service aces. Katherine Culwell finished just shy of a double-double with nine kills and nine digs; she also had one solo block. Halle Kearney contributed six kills and a block to the winning effort.
     
    Camila Jersonsky had four kills and four blocks, and Courtney McDonald had three of each. And Chloe Rowand had four blocks to go along with five kills. Sarah Wroblicky led Auburn with 10 digs and a service ace, and Chelsea Wintzinger posted a team-high 17 assists along with seven digs and an ace.
     
    MSU was led by Sarah Nielsen with nine kills, and Lainey Wyman had three kills and three blocks. Freshman Taylor Hackemack had a match-high 19 assists in her first start at setter, and libero Roxanne McVey had 15 digs.

    Auburn never trailed in the first set and sprinted to a 25-11 win. The Tigers had 12 kills to MSU’s five and forced the Bulldogs into 10 attack errors and a -.167 hitting percentage. Auburn jumped out to a 5-0 lead that eventually ballooned to 16-5 on a 7-0 run midway through the set. From there, the Bulldogs would never draw closer than nine points as Auburn earned its most lopsided set win of the year.
     
    But that mark would last for just one set as the Tigers took a 25-10 decision in set two, hitting at a .400 clip and holding the Bulldogs in the red again at -.100. This time, Auburn had 13 kills and three blocks, getting four of those kills on five swings from Bullock. Meanwhile, Rowand and McDonald had three kills apiece in the frame as Auburn jumped out to an 11-3 lead and never looked back. Auburn would lead 20-6 before MSU scored two straight – the Bulldogs’ only point on serve in the set – and two kills from Rowand would put the set away.
     
    The Bulldogs came out much stronger in set three, leading briefly at 10-9, before the Tigers went on a 7-2 run from which MSU could not recover. Culwell came alive in the final set, hitting .462 with seven kills while added three digs and a solo block to account for eight Auburn points in a 25-17 match-clinching win. Freshman Mary Hannah Arrington got the final point of the match with a back-row kill on her only swing of the night.
     
    Auburn returns to action next Friday, Oct. 12, with a 6 p.m. CT match against the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens.
     




    Lady Vols Outlast Missouri in Five Sets

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team got a little revenge on Friday night, defeating Missouri in five sets (25-12, 23-25, 27-25, 22-25, 15-11) in front of 1,102 fans on the annual “Dig for the Cure” Night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
     
    Donned in pink uniforms, Tennessee, which was beaten in five on Missouri’s home court earlier this season, improves to 10-5 overall and evens its league record to 3-3. Mizzou falls to 12-5 on the season and 4-3 in Southeastern Conference play.
     
    The fifth annual “Dig for the Cure” night resulted in over $1,600 being donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation of Knoxville, which is devoted to breast cancer research.
     
    “It was a good win for us,” said head coach Rob Patrick. “We haven’t been playing as well as we need to against really good teams. Missouri is a very good team with very talented players. I felt really happy about how we grinded through that match. Even though we lost a couple of sets, we just grinded through and it paid off at the end.”
     
    Junior libero Ellen Mullins recorded a career-high 34 digs, which stands as the seventh-highest total in school history and second-most in the 25-point rally scoring era. Sophomore Tiffany Baker also posted career-high numbers, finishing with 23 kills to go along with 16 digs and three blocks for her first double-double of the season. The outside hitter swung 53 times and committed just three errors for a .377 attacking clip.
     
    The Lady Vols finished with a season-high 98 digs, the most since notching 103 in a five set win over South Carolina on Nov. 11, 2007.
     
    “I was really happy with Tiffany,” said Patrick. “She played a really low-error hitting game, which I thought was fantastic. That’s what we’ve been talking about. We still made too many hitting errors, but she did a fantastic job. Give credit to Ellen, who had 34 digs. She was scooping everything and gave us a lot of opportunities in transition.”
     
    Seniors Leslie Cikra and Kayla Jeter added 13 and 12 kills, respectively, while DeeDee Harrison, Mercedes Vaughn and Shealyn Kolosky combined for 15 in the middle. Sophomore setter Mary Pollmiller dished out a match-high 54 assists and scooped 14 balls for her sixth double-double of the season.
     
    The Big Orange took a 4-1 lead to start the match and never looked back in the opening set, cruising to a 25-12 victory over the Tigers. The Lady Vols posted a blazing .355 attacking clip and held the Tigers to a -.114 percentage in the first. Harrison and Cikra both had three kills, while Baker and Jeter each added two. Led by Mullins, UT outdug Mizzou, 20-13, and held the best blocking team in the conference to zero blocks in the frame. Tennessee ended the set on a 15-3 run.
     
    The Tigers rebounded in the second – leading the entire frame – to level the match at one set apiece with a narrow 25-23 victory. Cikra put down six kills for the Lady Vols and Mullins had 12 digs, but it was not enough as Mizzou claimed the set.
     
    The third was a back and forth affair as there were eight ties and four lead changes. Missouri took a 12-11 lead with six consecutive points, but a 7-2 run later in the frame gave UT a 21-18 advantage. A Whitney Little and Lisa Henning block gave the Tigers a set point chance at 24-23, but a Cikra kill following a timeout leveled it at 24. Mizzou again had set point at 25-24, but Tennessee scored three straight, including kills from Baker and Vaughn, to win the set 27-25 and take a 2-1 lead.
     
    The fourth was another tightly contested set as it consisted of 12 ties and six lead changes until Mizzou finished out the frame on a 4-0 run to force a fifth set with a 25-22 victory. Henning, the All-American, finished the set with eight kills and hit .533 for the Tigers. She led the match with 25 kills on 74 attempts.
     
    The Lady Vols hit .375 in the fifth set and were able to sideout 90 percent of the time to take the final game, 15-11, and avenge their heartbreaking loss in Columbia. Baker had three kills on four swings in the final game.
     
    In addition to Henning’s 25, Mizzou got 10 kills from sophomore Emily Wilson. The Lady Vols bested the Tigers in kills (69-55), hitting percentage (.230-.140), assists (67-51) and digs (98-82). The league’s top-blocking team held the advantage in team rejections, 14-11. Little had 11 blocks, including three solo, to lead the Tigers.
     
    “We need to make a surge in the SEC,” Patrick said. “I’m really happy with our progression. Missouri is a great team. This was a very big win for our team and hopefully we can build on what we did tonight.”  
     
    The Lady Vols return to action on Sunday at 1 p.m. when they welcome longtime rival Georgia to Knoxville. The Big Orange has won 10 straight matches against the Bulldogs at home.
     




    Texas A&M Takes Lead in SEC West With Sweep of South Carolina

    COLLEGE STATION, Texas.  - Texas A&M took over sole possession of first place in the Southeastern Conference Western Division with a commanding 25-12, 25-16, 25-16 victory over South Carolina in a televised match played in front of 1,318 pink-clad fans at Reed Arena.
     
    A&M improved to 13-2 overall and 5-1 in the SEC, breaking away from a tie with Arkansas (13-4, 4-2 SEC) for first place in the league following the Razorbacks’ 3-0 loss at No. 11 Florida earlier tonight.
     
    South Carolina suffered its fifth consecutive loss and dropped to 13-5 overall and 2-5 in SEC play.
     
    Junior setter Allie Sawatzky dished out 33 assists and directed the Aggies to a .364 to .078 hitting advantage. Aggie senior middle blocker Lindsey Miller led all players with 12 kills while hitting .500, and senior opposite Alisia Kastmo also posted double figures in kills with 10 to help lead the Aggies to a 48-26 advantage in kills.
     
    Other than a 3-3 tie, A&M led the entire first set. A kill by senior Tori Mellinger broke the tie and sparked 9-1 run by the Aggies. A&M continued to widen the gap, building an 18-8 lead following a kill by senior middle blocker Stephanie Minnerly, who finished the match with six kills and a 714 hitting efficiency.
     
    The Gamecocks got within 19-12 before A&M used a 6-0 run, getting kills from four different players, to close out the set. Mellinger clinched the win with her fourth kill of the frame.
     
    South Carolina, which was outhit, .400 to .111 in the first set, built a 4-1 lead to begin the second set. A&M would tie the score three times before taking the lead at 7-6 on a South Carolina attack error. The point was part of a 5-0 run by the Aggies, who continued to score in bunches while building a 22-13 lead. South Carolina, which scored three consecutive points only twice in the match, got within 22-16 on three straight Aggie errors, but a kill by Mellinger, an ace by Kastmo and an attack error by the Gamecocks, who were outhit .424 to .091, closed out the set and gave the Aggies a 2-0 lead in the match.
     
    Corbelli nearly emptied her bench in the final set as 13 players saw action and helped the Aggies complete the sweep. South Carolina tied the score six times early in the set but was unable to ever take a lead. The score was knotted for the final time at 7-7 when South Carolina, which was outhit .278 to .033 in the set, committed an attack error. Freshman middle blocker Shelby Sullivan followed with a kill, and the Aggies continued to pull away. Leading 20-15, freshman outside hitter Shelbi Vaughan pounded a kill through the block, and Miller teamed with freshman right-side Sierra Patrick for a block. Miller then posted her match-high 12th kill before combining with Patrick for another block that put the Aggies at set point, 24-15. South Carolina tooled a kill off the block before Vaughan sealed the victory with her second kill.
     
    A&M returns to Reed on Sunday for another televised SEC match as the Aggies take on Mississippi State and freshman defensive dynamo Roxanne McVey (6.29 digs per set) for the first time in program history. First serve is slated for 3 p.m.