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    Sunday SEC Volleyball Roundup

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


    Kentucky Earns Sweep Over LSU
     

    LEXINGTON, Ky. - Spearheaded by a 16-6 run to close out the third set the Kentucky volleyball team secured a 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-22) sweep of visiting LSU on Sunday afternoon in Memorial Coliseum. Junior Whitney Billingstallied her 23rd career double-double effort with team highs in kills (16) and digs (14) to lead the way for the Blue and White.
     
    "I was proud by the fact that we were able to come back and make plays at the end," said UK coach Craig Skinner. "We had a nice serving run at the end that gave us some momentum. (It's) Something definitely to feel good about."
     
    With the victory the Wildcats improve to 13-8 on the season and 7-4 in Southeastern Conference action. LSU drops to 9-12 overall and 5-7 in league competition. UK returns to action with a pair of road matches next week beginning with Tennessee on Friday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. ET.
     
    "It's always important to respond after not getting the win you want on Friday night," said Skinner. "LSU has been very good over the last couple of weeks, and it was important for us to jump on them early. Our blocking defense did a good job of that."
     
    Billings provided a dynamic showing in all phases of the match with team-high totals in kills, digs, hitting percentage (.400) and blocks (5) to lead the charge. Sophomore Lauren O'Conner notched 14 kills on .281 hitting and senior setter Christine Hartmannhad a double-double of her own with 40 assists and 13 digs.
     
    Senior Ashley Frazier logged seven kills with junior Alexandra Morgan providing six. Sophomore Jackie Napper had 13 digs with senior Stephanie Klefot totaling seven and junior Jessi Greenbergadding six.
     
    LSU opened to a 16-9 advantage in the third set looking to prolong the match after the Wildcats had earned a 2-0 lead into the locker room. Kentucky then began an improbable 16-6 run to close out the frame to preserve the sweep. Kentucky forced the Tigers into a few miscues to begin the run, but it was accentuated by a 7-0 run to take the lead 23-20. The rally was led by strong serving from Klefot and four kills in the run. Kills from O'Conner and Billings closed out the frame and UK finished off the match with a 25-22 final set win.
     
    UK torched the Tigers for 17 kills on .300 hitting in the final frame with Billings going for six on a .545 clip. LSU posted 13 kills on .229 hitting in the set. Kentucky opened the match earning a 25-19 set victory. UK posted 16 kills on .238 hitting with O'Conner leading the charge with seven hammers in the opening stanza. LSU logged 13 kills on a .122 percentage. The Wildcats' defensive effort was also impressive with 6.5 blocks in the opening set.
     
    O'Conner opened the match with a kill, but it was the Tigers who opened to a 6-3 lead. Kentucky clawed back and tied the score at seven before eventually taking a 14-9 lead. The Blue and White put together a 5-0 run to stretch the lead to 18-11 with O'Conner notching a pair of kills in the run. LSU would get back to within three at 20-17, but UK closed out the frame on 5-2 run to finish the set with kills from Billings and O'Conner to close out the win.
     
    UK earned a 2-0 lead into the break following a 25-18 second set victory. UK logged an impressive 17 kills on .325 hitting. Billings totaled a team-high eight kills in the run and added five digs to earn her 23rd career double-double effort. LSU managed just 10 kills on .143 hitting but out-blocked the Wildcats 2-0.
     
    The teams traded points to begin the second stanza before UK shook loose for three straight points to take an 11-7 lead. The margin would be enough as UK did not allow the visitors any closer than two the rest of the way. LSU committed back-to-back hitting errors to close out the set with Kentucky earning the second win of the match.



    Ole Miss Sweeps South Carolina in Three Sets


    OXFORD, Miss. – Another double-double from Ole Miss senior setter Amanda Philpot, and a season-high 14 kills from freshman middle blocker Nakeyta Clair led the Ole Miss volleyball team (10-10, 4-7 Southeastern Conference) to a 3-0 victory over South Carolina on Sunday at the Gillom Sports Center.
     
    It was the second-straight double-double for Philpot and her ninth this season, as she recorded a team-high 31 assists and a career- and team-high 22 digs against the Gamecocks, breaking her previous career high of 20, set against Northwestern last season.
     
    Clair capped off a fantastic weekend of play with 14 kills, three solo blocks and five block assists. Clair’s 14 kills come one match after registering a then-career-high 13 kills against Missouri on Friday night.
     
    “I’m really proud of the team,” Ole Miss volleyball head coach Joe Getzin said. “I think they responded very well, and because of that you saw us play some of our best volleyball of the year.
     
    “Nakeyta’s really been coming on. We’ve seen it in our gym and during practice, and it’s really good that the fans and TV and everybody else get to see what we see on a daily basis. It was a little coming out party for her.”
     
    Ole Miss jumped out to a quick start in the first set, leading 7-1 to start, but the Gamecocks (15-8, 3-8 SEC) wouldn’t back down. The Rebels stretched the lead to as many as eight points on two separate occasions, including at 19-11, but a 7-1 run by South Carolina cut the Rebels’ lead to just two points at 20-18. Following a timeout, the Rebels regrouped and finished off the set on a 5-1 run to win the first set 25-19. Clair paced the Rebels with seven kills, while Philpot had eight assists and 10 digs.
     
    The Rebels were on fire in the second set, hitting at a .593 clip and getting three or more kills from five different players. After exchanging points back and forth to open the set, the Rebels exploded to score 22 of the final 31 points and win the set 25-12.
     
    Ole Miss finished off the match by winning a tight third set 25-21. Neither team held an advantage greater than two points in the third set until the Rebels scored the set and match’s final four points to win 25-21.
     
    Sunday’s win comes after the Rebels’ 3-1 victory over Missouri on Friday night, and pushes the Rebels’ home record to 6-2 this season.



    Missouri Wins in Five Sets at Auburn


    AUBURN, Ala. - Mizzou volleyball won a crucial SEC showdown, 3-2 (14-25, 25-16, 25-21, 19-25, 15-13), at Auburn on Sunday (Oct. 21) in large part due to an outstanding performance from All-American Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.), who posted a career-best 27 kills with 13 digs. She had 71 attacks in the match and hit .310 in the win as she did it all for Mizzou on Sunday. With the win, the Tigers move to 15-6 overall and 7-4 in SEC play, keeping pace in a loaded SEC East.
     
    "This was a huge win for our team," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "To come in and beat an RPI top-50 team on the road after losing the first set like we did speaks a lot about the character of this team. It was a pretty crazy match - we played very well at times and at other times we didn't. But in the end, we made enough plays to get out of here with a victory."
     
    In a statistical anomaly, Mizzou is now undefeated on Sundays in SEC play while it remains winless on Fridays. Henning was the Tigers' go-to player, especially in the final four sets. Henning was quieted by Auburn's defense as she posted just two kills on .100 hitting in the first, but in the final four sets, she tallied 25 kills on .344 hitting. Sophomore Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) supplied much of the other offense with 12 kills while junior setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) finished just two kills shy of a triple double with eight on .500 hitting 42 assists and 10 digs. Sophomore libero Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.) finished with a match-high 22 digs, including a match-saving one in the fifth set when Mizzou trailed 13-12. 
     
    Mizzou won the match despite being out-killed, out-dug and out-blocked by Auburn in one of the rare five-set wins. It is worth mentioning that freshman Lydia Ely (St. Louis, Mo.) had a decent match as well with four kills and three blocks, but her huge contribution to the match came in the fifth when she tallied back-to-back blocks to close out the match.
    Mizzou jumped out to an early 6-4 lead in the first set, but it could have been more but a pair of net violations early gave two points to Auburn. From there, Auburn went on an 8-0 run to take a 12-6 lead and eventually opened a 19-11 lead. That was all that Auburn needed as it ran away with the first, 25-14, behind an efficient attack. In fact, Mizzou allowed Auburn to hit .395 with 17 kills while posting just nine kills on .143 hitting. Ely led the Tigers with three kills in the first set.
     
    Mizzou seemed to regroup in between sets as it raced out to a 10-6 lead, playing much better all around. In fact, Mizzou played much better in every area of the game as it took the second set in convincing fashion, 25-16. Henning was nearly unstoppable for the Tigers with eight kills on just 15 swings. Mizzou had 18 kills on .400 hitting in the second set while Auburn had just 10 kills on .226 hitting.
     
    After a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance from Mizzou in the first set, Mizzou jumped out to an 18-13 lead in the third set, thanks in large part to 12 Auburn attack errors in the set. Auburn rallied late, pulling as close as two points, but Henning hit a left-handed cut shot to seal the set at 25-21, sending the match to the fourth with Mizzou on top. 2-1. Henning had five kills on 17 errorless attacks in the third and after having just two kills in the first set, Henning had 13 kills on 32 attacks with just one error, good for .375 hitting.
     
    Mizzou didn't find Henning enough in the fourth, but ran out to a 14-12 lead. Then a questionable call that went in favor of Auburn sparked a run in which Auburn scored six of the next seven points to go on top, 18-15. That was all that Auburn needed to win the set, 25-18, sending the match to the fifth.
     
    It was a back-and-forth affair in the fifth set. Auburn rallied to tie the set a 9-9 after trailing by two for much of the frame, but a huge kill from Little and then a block by Little and Kreklow gave Mizzou an 11-9 lead, forcing an Auburn timeout. Out of the timeout, Auburn got a kill in the middle, but Little again posted a big-time kill on the right-side slide to give Mizzou a 12-10 lead. But then Auburn rallied with two straight tip shots to tie the set at 12-12. After a Mizzou timeout, Auburn aced Jade Hayes (Ozark, Mo.) to take a 13-12 lead. But Henning tallied a kill and then Ely and Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) teamed for a pair of blocks to end the set on a 3-0 run, taking the frame, 15-13.



    Georgia Picks Up Sweep Over Alabama


    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Georgia volleyball team picked up its third-straight Southeastern Conference win with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 26-24) sweep of the Alabama Crimson Tide on Sunday, Oct. 21 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The win is also the second win over the Crimson Tide this season. Georgia improves to 12-8 on the year and 6-4 in the SEC, while Alabama drops to 14-9 overall and 3-8 in league play. 
     
    "We came in incredibly focused and very fresh," head coach Lizzy Stemke said. "We did a really great job of not getting rattled when we were down a couple of points. We continued to stay with the game play and were very patient. Alabama is a tough a place to play and anytime you get a 3-0 win on the road in the SEC, it's a great win. I am most proud of our focus, our patience and attack mentality." 
     
    Brittany Northcutt led the team with 12 kills, hitting at a .400 clip. Tirah Le'au went 11-for-18 on the day to hit .444, while Lauren Teknipp was also efficient, going 8-for-11 without committing an error to register a .727 attack percentage. Briana Bahr added seven kills in the match. Once again, the Bulldogs were impressive from the service line, totaling nine aces, including three each by Maggie Baumert and Chloe Buckendahl and two by Jasmine Eatmon. Kaylee Kehoe and Baumert split time at setter, finishing with 28 and 17 assists, respectively.  Elena Perri led the team in blocks, finishing with three, while Teknipp finished with two blocks. Allison Summers led the team with 22 digs. 
     
    Georgia and Alabama traded points early in the first set, before the Crimson Tide took a two-point lead at 6-4. Georgia fought back to tie the set at 11 on a Tide attack error. Alabama retook the lead at 16-13 on back-to-back kills, forcing the Bulldogs to use a timeout. After a Bahr kill that made it a 16-14 set, Alabama scored three-straight to extend its lead to 19-14. Following a Georgia timeout, the Bulldogs scored four-straight to cut the Alabama lead to one at 19-18 and force it to use its first timeout. After a pair of Alabama points, Eatmon sparked a 3-0 run that allowed Georgia to take the lead at 21-20. The teams tied three times before a block by Kehoe and Perri and a Northcutt kill sealed the first set for Georgia 25-23. 
     
    In the second set, Georgia opened up to a 3-1 lead before Alabama scored three-straight to take a 4-3 lead. The teams kept it close over the next few points until the Tide strung together three-straight points to take a three-point lead at 10-7, which caused Georgia to use its first timeout of the set. The Bulldogs came out of the break and scored five-consecutive points to take a 12-10 lead, but the Crimson Tide used a 5-0 run to take a 17-14 lead. Baumert tied the set at 18 with a service ace. After tying four times, the Bulldogs went on to score the final three points to take the second set 25-22.
     
    The Crimson Tide opened up to an 8-2 lead in the third set before the Bulldogs fought back to within three at 10-7. Alabama maintained the lead until a Bahr kill sparked a 3-0 run that brought Georgia within striking distance at 16-14. Buckendahl tied the set at 18 with a service ace. Georgia and Alabama tied at 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23, but Georgia was able to seal the set 26-24 and the match 3-0 with a pair of Baumert service aces.
     


    Florida Storms Back for Five Set Win Over Texas A&M


    The No. 11 Florida volleyball team faced a seemingly insurmountable challenge on Sunday, as the Gators were down 0-2 to an experienced Texas A&M team with a rocking crowd of 1,727 Aggie faithful at Reed Arena.
     
    Florida, as they did Oct. 7 at home against Kentucky, came together and came back as the Gators won the final three sets to claim the match, 3-2 (14-25, 25-27, 25-23, 25-23, 15-6), and stay undefeated in the SEC.
     
    The Orange and Blue are now 17-2 on the season and 11-0 in conference play, while the Aggies fall to 15-5 on the year and 7-4 in conference action.
     
    “Down 0-2, due in large part to how well Texas A&M was playing, our team showed so much character to just hang in there until we got some things on track,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “We got better as the match went on, thus we were able to come back and win.”
     
    Florida’s middles had a stellar afternoon, as junior Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) smashed 19 kills on a .486 hitting efficiency with only one error, and senior Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) tallied a career-high 15 kills. Mann tied with senior Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) for six blocks against the Aggies, while Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) turned in her first double-double at Florida with season highs of 55 assists and 14 digs. Brauneis also served up a team-high two aces on the afternoon.
     
    “We don’t win that match without the play of our middles, both offensive and defensively,” Wise commented. “Their play this afternoon combined with the set distribution of Taylor Brauneis is a reason we were able to even have a chance to come back against a team like Texas A&M.”
     
    Florida’s freshman outside hitters Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) and Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.) both hit double-digit kills, as Recek and Mann recorded 13 and 10 kills, respectively. Wiggs had nine kills on the afternoon for 12.5 points.
     
    The comeback marked the fourth time in four years Florida rallied from an 0-2 hole to beat an opponent and the third time in program history the Gators have come back from an 0-2 deficit twice in one season. UF has come back from an 0-2 deficit 17 times in program history, eight of those on the road.
     
    The Gators fell in the first set, 14-25. The teams battled to open the match, with a Mann solo stuff giving the Gators a 5-3 lead. The Aggies used scrappy defense to stop the high-powered Florida offense, winning back-to-back rallies to go ahead, 9-6. A slam down the line by Recek kept the Gators within striking distance, down 11-8. An A&M attacking error put Florida within two, down 12-10.
     
    The Aggies rattled off two quick points, forcing Florida into their first timeout of the set, down 14-10. Texas A&M continued to roll out of the timeout, as the Gators burned their final timeout of the set, down 17-10. Florida was unable to stop the Texas A&M momentum, as the Aggies took the first stanza, 25-14.
     
    The Aggies took the second stanza, 27-25. Florida started well early in the second frame, as a Mann kill and a Mann-Wiggs block put the Gators ahead, 2-0. Texas A&M regained its momentum from the first set, jumping ahead to a 6-3 lead and forcing a Florida timeout. The Gators began to get their passing legs back, making it easier for Brauneis to distribute the ball as Florida pulled within one, down 10-9.
     
     Florida won a long rally to get within two, 13-11, and an Unroe ace made it a one-point Aggie advantage, UF down 13-12. A Recek tool off the block kept the set tight, down 14-13. A Recek-Smith stuff block got the Gators back within one, down 15-14. The Aggies began to pull away, as an A&M roof forced the Gators into a timeout, down 21-17.
     
    Florida battled back, using a Recek-Smith block and back-to-back Smith kills to get within one of the A&M lead, down 22-21, forcing an Aggie timeout. A Mallette kill tied the set at 23-23 but A&M made it to set point first with UF down, 24-23. A Smith kill tied the set at 24-24, saving a set point. A Mallette kill to the back corner set up set point for the Gators with their first lead of the set since 2-0, UF up 25-24. An A&M kill saved the set for the Aggies, 25-25. Back-to-back Tori Mellinger kills tilted the set in Texas A&M’s favor, 27-25.
     
    Florida staved off a late Texas A&M rally to take the third set, 25-23. The teams battled to open the third frame, as a Smith stuff block tied the set, 4-4. Smith tipped over the block on the slide to pull ahead, 6-5. A Mellinger attacking error put the Gators up by two, 7-5. A Smith slide kill kept the two-point advantage in Florida’s favor, 8-6. A Mann-Wiggs stuff block and ensuing Aggie hitting error forced an A&M timeout as Florida jumped ahead, 12-7. A Wiggs solo stuff put the Gators ahead, 14-7. Smith slammed one to the left of the A&M block to lead 18-11.
     
    The Aggies put together three straight points to force a Gator timeout with Florida leading 18-14. A&M scored another three straight out of the timeout, cutting the Gator lead to one at 18-17. Mann slammed a kill through the A&M block to lead, 20-18 and a Wiggs kill off the block put Florida within four of the set, 21-20. The Aggies called timeout after an A&M hitting error with Florida leading, 22-20. Recek killed one off hands to put the Gators within two of the set, 23-21. A Recek-Smith roof gave Florida set point, 24-21. After two quick Aggie points, Florida called timeout ahead 24-23. Recek took the set into her hands, slamming a kill through the seam in the A&M block to take the third set, 25-23.
     
    In the fourth set, the Aggies and the Gators battled but the set went the Gators’ way, 25-23. Texas A&M jumped out to a quick 5-2 lead in the fourth set but Florida rattled off three straight to tie the set, 5-5. A Mallette off-speed kill pulled the Gators within one of the Aggie lead, UF down 8-7. Texas A&M strung together two-in-a-row to pull ahead, 10-7. A Mallette kill and Brauneis service ace put Florida within one, down 10-9. An A&M block extended the Aggie lead and forced a Gator timeout, UF down 13-10. A Mann kill out of the timeout cut the A&M lead to two, UF down 13-11, and a Smith kill kept the set close, trailing 14-12.
     
    After an Aggie run put A&M up by five, the Gators put together one of their own, tying the set 17-17 behind the serve of Recek and forcing an A&M timeout. Florida scored two straight out of the timeout to lead 19-17. Mallette nailed a kill high off-hands to go ahead, 20-18. Texas A&M scored two straight to tie the set at 20-20. A Mann kill and Mann-Wiggs roof put the Gators within three of the set and forced an Aggie timeout, 22-20. Kills by Mann and Recek gave Florida three set points, 24-21, but A&M saved two of them to force a Gator timeout at 24-23. Mann slammed her 17th kill of the afternoon to force the fifth, 25-23.
     
    The Gators took two of the first three points of the fifth and decisive set and never looked back. Wiggs tooled one off the block and Recek cut a kill inside the block to lead, 2-1. Wiggs ripped a kill in the middle to lead, 3-2. Smith used her go-to slide to go up 4-3 and back-to-back A&M hitting errors gave the Gators a three-point advantage, 6-3. Kills by Smith and Mann put Florida ahead, 8-4, as the teams switched sides.
     
    Two kills by Mallette and a backrow slam by Recek put the Gators up, 12-5, forcing an A&M timeout. Mann slammed one through the seam in the Aggie block to go ahead, 13-6, and a Mann-Wiggs block set up match point at 14-6. Recek slammed one down the line to give the Gators the set and the match, 15-6.



    Arkansas Handles Mississippi State in Straight Sets




    STARKVILLE, Miss. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team posted its second win of the weekend with a straight-set performance (25-18, 25-10, 25-16) Sunday against Mississippi State at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville. The Razorbacks had three players—Roslandy Acosta, Liz Fortado and Janeliss Torres-Lopez—with double-digit kills and libero Emily Helm matched her season high with 24 digs.
     
    “I’m proud of our players for a great weekend,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “It’s tough to win two in a weekend, especially on the road in the SEC. Overall, we did really well preparing ourselves to get ready to play against a Mississippi State team that is very hungry. We did some really good things today, so I’m proud of our performance.”
     
    With her 10th assist of the match—a delivery out to Jasmine Norton—Raymariely Santos registered her 2,500th career assists. The Ponce, Puerto Rico, native is the fifth setter in program history to reach the career milestone. Norton posted a milestone, as well, with her 1,000th career dig. She joins the list of 1,000 kill-1,000 dig performers in program history that already includes Krystal Osborne, Denitza Koleva, Kim Storey, Denise Baez and Yarleen Santiago.
     
    The Razorbacks jumped out to an early lead Sunday, winning five of the first six points in the match and taking a 13-7 lead on an overpass kill by Amanda Anderson to force a Mississippi State timeout. The visitors kept the pressure and built their lead to nine, 17-8, after back-to-back kills from Acosta. The Bulldogs pulled to within four later in the set but got no closer. On the team’s third chance to close out the set, Torres-Lopez found the floor to clinch the game, 25-18.
     
    The home team held the lead early in the second set, leading by as much as three before Hayley Koop checked in with a kill to even the score at 7-all. That play was at the start of a ten-point streak that saw the Razorbacks take a 15-7 lead after a kill from Torres-Lopez. Another kill by the Razorback senior doubled up Mississippi State, 18-9, to force a timeout. Arkansas won the final seven points of the set, clinching the 2-0 match lead on a double-contact call on the MSU setter. 
     
    The start of the third set featured back-and-forth play with five ties until the teams were tied at 9-9. From that point, the Razorbacks scored five in a row with Helm at the service line. During the scoring run, Fortado had two kills and Norton had three. Acosta found the floor with her final kill of the match to give Arkansas an 18-13 lead, forcing a Bulldog timeout. Fortado’s 11th kill brought the team to match point. The Razorbacks went on to secure the sweep by way of a Mississippi State service error.
     
    The Razorbacks’ win Sunday gave the program 33 victories against Mississippi State, the most against any Southeastern Conference opponent. The win also pushed Arkansas’ win streak against the Bulldogs to four in a row and marked the program’s 15th all-time win in Starkville.
     
    Arkansas returns to Barnhill Arena next weekend with a pair of home matches against Alabama and Missouri. Friday’s meeting with the Crimson Tide has been designated as the team’s “Dig for the Cure” match. The weekend finale will be the first match between Arkansas and Missouri since the 2005 season, prior to the Tigers joining the conference.