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    SEC Volleyball Today: October 26

    volleyBALL RESULTS
    Kentucky 3, Tennessee 2
    Florida 3, Mississippi State 0
    Auburn 3, South Carolina 0
    Arkansas 3, Alabama 2
    Texas A&M 3, LSU 1

    Wildcats Storm Back for 3-2 Win at Tennessee

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – Facing a 2-0 deficit in the match as well as an eight-point hole in the fourth set, the Kentucky volleyball team showed great resiliency and rode the energy of the senior class to an incredible 3-2 (21-25, 27-29, 25-14, 25-22, 15-5) comeback win at Tennessee on Friday night. The win over the Lady Vols marks the first in Knoxville, Tenn, since the 2008 season, and it also ensures UK a sweep of the season series for the first time since 2007.

    “This match goes to our seniors, they stepped up when we needed them to,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “We knew we had it in us to compete in big matches like this. Our seniors literally willed us to a win.”

    With the victory, Kentucky improves to 14-8 overall on the year and 8-4 in league competition. Tennessee falls to 14-6 and 7-4 in SEC action.

    Kentucky was led by the senior class who provided the spark both offensively and defensively. Senior Ashley Frazier paced the Wildcat attack with 18 kills. Setter Christine Hartmann logged a double-double effort with 51 assists and 11 digs. Libero Stephanie Klefot had 19 digs and seven assists in the match, but kept rallies going with unbelievable hustle.

    “Our toughness, resiliency and defense after set two, we as a staff just couldn’t be prouder,” Skinner said.

    Tennessee opened to a 2-0 lead in the game before UK utilized a 25-14 third set win to prolong the match. The Lady Volunteers raced out to a lead as large as eight in the fourth, before UK capped the stanza on a 16-6 run to earn a 25-22 win and force the decisive fifth frame.

    Kills from Frazier and freshman Sara Schwarzwalder gave the Wildcats a 2-0 lead it would never relinquish with the momentum clearly on its side. A 4-0 run by the Blue and White pushed the lead to 8-2 into the switching of sides. UK did not let up, and closed out the frame on a 7-3 run with Tennessee committing back-to-back attacking errors for the Wildcat win.

    UK posted seven kills on a blazing .500 hitting clip in the set with three coming from the hand of Frazier. Tennessee managed a mere three kills on negative .071 hitting in the final stanza.

    Frazier led four Wildcats in double figures in the kills’ column. Sophomore Lauren O’Conner had 12. Junior Whitney Billings notched another double-double effort with 11 kills and 15 digs. She had seven kills after the second set. Junior Alexandra Morgan also reached double figures with 11 kills while adding a career-high five service aces.

    Schwarzwalder narrowly missed out with nine kills, but added a team-high four blocks. Junior Jessi Greenberg had 12 digs and sophomore Jackie Napper chipped in with seven.

    After the Lady Vols claimed the opening two sets, UK came out of the locker room and earned a 25-14 third set win to prolong the match. UK totaled 15 kills on .353 hitting, led by five from Morgan. Tennessee was frustrated into eight kills, committing five errors for a .088 clip.

    Four-straight points from the Wildcats opened the third set. The Lady Vols pulled back to within two as late as 14-12, but UK posted an 11-2 run to end the set. The stanza concluded with Kentucky scoring the final seven points beginning with five straight kills. Morgan, Frazier, Hartmann and Schwarzwalder all registered at least one hammer in the run, and then Morgan capped the set with back-to-back aces for the Wildcat win.

    Tennessee raced out to a 9-3 lead in the fourth set. UK kept chipping away and mounted a 9-3 run to tie the match at 18 on consecutive kills from Billings. Tennessee took a timeout, and out of the break UK forced the home team into an erroneous attack. Billings came back with another kill to push UK’s advantage to 20-18. UK logged set point at 24-22, and concluded the comeback by forcing the Lady Vols into their sixth hitting error of the stanza to force the final frame.

    UK totaled 15 kills on .297 hitting with Billings torching the Lady Vol defense with six kills on .556 hitting. Tennessee totaled 13 on .194 hitting.

    Kentucky will remain on the road and travel to Georgia for a 1:30 p.m. ET matchup on Sunday. It will mark the first of two meetings between the SEC Eastern Division rivals over the final four weeks of the season.

    Wiggs Sets New Florida Hitting Percentage Record as No. 11 Gators Sweep MSU

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Senior Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) made history on Friday evening, as the senior right-side hit .929 (13-0-14) in Florida's sweep of Mississippi State (25-11, 25-8, 25-11). Wiggs' hitting percentage sets a new Florida program record, besting the .923 hitting clip by Benavia Jenkins in the 2002 NCAA Tournament (12/6/02 vs. UCF).

    "I was most pleased our players stayed the course," Florida head coach Mary Wise said." They stayed focused no matter what the score was. That third set, we passed nails. Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) did a great job distributing the sets, and the team got to be part of history, watching what Tangerine did on the right side."

    Junior middle blocker Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) also had an errorless hitting night at the net, hitting .727 with eight kills on 11 swings. Defensively, Mann added a match-high four blocks while sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) turned in a match-high 11 digs.

    Brauneis dished out 25 assists to lead the Gators to a .455 hitting percentage, their highest mark of the SEC slate. Florida held Mississippi State to a -.141 offensive clip, their lowest hitting efficiency of the season, as the Gators stuffed 10.0 blocks as a team.

    Wiggs added two blocks to her special night, leading all players with 14.0 points. Wiggs was quick to deflect all praise on her teammates.

    "My hitting percentage is solely a reflection of my passers and my setter," Wiggs said. "I'm blessed to have a really great setter in Taylor Brauneis. She does a really great job of distributing the ball and getting me great looks, and our passers do a great job of putting up passes that create hittable sets for me. I think I have the easy job. I think the passers and the setter have a much harder job than I do. All the credit goes to them; my setter, my passers, and my team."

    The Gators quickly took the first set, 25-11. Florida jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first frame, and led by as many as 11 in the opening points, taking four straight behind a Monserez service ace and back-to-back solo blocks for Brauneis and Recek to go up 14-3. The Gators used aggressive serving and attacking to continue their streak, serving up three aces in the opening stanza and hitting .429 behind five errorless kills for Wiggs. Freshman middle blocker Simone Antwi (Fairfax Station, Va.) smashed a kill through the middle to take the first set, 25-11. The Bulldogs hit -.143 in the opening frame.

    Florida took the second frame, 25-8. The Gators used another 6-1 run to open the second stanza, this time behind the serve of sophomore Holly Pole (Ocala, Fla.), forcing a Bulldog timeout at 11-3. The Orange and Blue continued to roll and a kill by Mallette that nicked the crosscourt line put the Gators ahead, 17-6, burning a second Mississippi State timeout. Senior Sundai Weston (Naples, Fla.) served four straight points to aid the Florida effort as the Gators continued to surge towards the finish. Kills by Mann and Wiggs ended the set, 25-8.

    The Orange and Blue won the final set, 25-11. The Gators jumped out to a substantial lead in set three, going ahead 13-5 to force a Mississippi State timeout. A four-point serving run for Florida behind the serve of Brauneis gave the Gators a 19-6 advantage, and kills by Wiggs and Antwi put the Gators within two of the match, 23-9. Antwi put away the match for Florida, giving the Orange and Blue a 25-11 advantage in the final frame.

    The Gators are off for the rest of the weekend before hosting Georgia and Tennessee next weekend. The Gators and the Bulldogs face off at 7 p.m. on Sun Sports/FS Florida Friday night before Florida hosts the Lady Vols at 2 p.m. on CSS Sunday.

    "The schedule really helps us now in terms of having Sunday off," Wise said. "Next weekend is important with Georgia, arguably the most improved team in the league, and Tennessee, the preseason favorites in the SEC. It's a huge weekend, and we're fortunate we have a chance to rest some players now."

    Record Night Leads Auburn over South Carolina, 3-0
    COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Auburn volleyball team had its highest hitting percentage in an SEC match since 1998 as the Tigers swept South Carolina 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-19) Friday night at USC’s Volleyball Competition Facility.
    The Tigers (14-8, 5-7 SEC) earned a season sweep of the Gamecocks (15-8, 3-8) and snapped a four-match losing streak thanks in large part to a .474 hitting percentage (52 kills, 7 errors, 95 attacks), which ranks as the sixth-best in Auburn history. The mark also ranks as Auburn’s best in an SEC match since Oct. 18, 1998, when Auburn hit .514 against Ole Miss.
    “It started with our passing tonight,” Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. “I thought we passed the ball pretty well. That gave us an opportunity to get all the hitters involved. Obviously, that makes it tougher to defend. We were efficient, and that’s where we want to see improvement.
    “We just need to go out and play hard and have fun playing. Several times in the last few weeks, we’ve walked out feeling like we didn’t get much accomplished. We’ve got to play hard and be content with that, and if we do that, we’ve got a chance to win a lot of games.”
    Auburn’s hitting also rates as the fifth-best by an SEC team this season and the second-best in a Southeastern Conference match. Only Kentucky’s .548 mark in a win over Ole Miss ranked better.
    Junior Katherine Culwell led the Auburn offense with 14 kills in the match, hitting .323 with four errors on 31 swings. She also contributed seven digs and a block to the effort. Sarah Bullock recorded her third straight double-double and her eighth of the season, putting down an error-free 12 kills on 24 attacks (.500 hitting percentage) along with 13 digs. She also had a service ace and a block assist.
    Camila Jersonsky hit a sparkling .750 for the match with nine kills on 12 swings with no errors. Halle Kearney had one of her best matches of the year, recording seven kills on 11 attacks with just one error for a .545 hitting mark. And Courtney McDonald took advantage of several South Carolina overpasses to rack up six kills on nine attacks with just one error (.556).
    Chelsea Wintzinger recorded a team-best 25 assists with five digs, and Ciara Richards had 20 helpers along with four digs.
    South Carolina was led by Darian Dozier with 12 kills and a .400 hitting mark, and Juliette Thevenin had 10 kills.

    The Tigers had 52 kills to Carolina’s 39, won the digs battle 40-30, and the teams were even in blocks with five apiece. Auburn also had just three service errors in the match.
    Auburn never trailed in the first set as the Tigers pulled ahead early and held on late for a 25-21 win. A 4-0 run midway through the set gave Auburn a 15-10 lead after two straight kills from Culwell, who had five in the frame, and that five-point lead would remain through most of the set. The Tigers hit .344 in the opener, which would be – shockingly – their lowest mark of the match.
    That number increased to .429 as the Tigers rolled to a 25-15 second-set win. Bullock came alive in the second set with six kills on nine attacks, and she also paced the Auburn defense with seven digs. A 9-3 run would give Auburn a 20-12 lead, and the Tigers never looked back.
    But the third set was the most impressive of the night as Auburn hit an astounding .679 with 20 kills and just one error en route to a 25-19 win and the second SEC road sweep of the year.  Culwell contributed seven of those 20 kills, including four in a row in the midst of a 12-2 run that turned an 11-8 deficit into a 20-13 lead, all but sealing the victory for the Tigers. South Carolina managed just seven digs and one block as Auburn’s offense had its way throughout the set.
    Auburn will wrap up its multi-state road trip Sunday with a 1:30 p.m. match at SEC Western Division rival Ole Miss.

    Razorbacks get five-set win against Alabama
    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team notched its first five-set win of the season Friday evening against Alabama. Jasmine Norton totaled her 11th double-double of the season with a match-high 19 kills and 21 digs. Collectively, Arkansas posted a .293 hitting percentage and had 11.0 total team blocks. With the win, the Razorbacks improved to 17-6 overall and 8-4 in Southeastern Conference play.
    With her first kill of the second set, and third of the match, Amanda Anderson tallied the 700th kill of her Razorback career. The Euless, Texas, native finished the night with six kills and a match-high seven total blocks. At the pins, Roslandy Acosta and Liz Fortado had 14 and 11 kills, respectively.
    “We have some seniors that are hungry,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “We talked about that through the match. Time is winding down and you have to enjoy every moment you have with each other being a Razorback. They stepped up (in the fifth set) and found a way to win. I’m very proud of this tough win.”
    With the match score tied at two sets apiece, the Arkansas offense posted a .400 hitting percentage in the decisive fifth set. Alabama (14-10, 3-9 SEC) won the first two points of the set before the Razorbacks responded with five of the next six points to take the lead. The teams switched sides with Arkansas leading, 8-5. Looking for its first five-set win of the year, the Razorbacks scored the final four points of the match with two kills each from Anderson and Acosta.
    In the opening set, the Razorbacks turned an early two-point advantage into a 14-9 lead to force the match’s first timeout from Alabama. During the push, Arkansas got a kill and service ace from Norton. Later in the game, the visitors pulled to within two points with the Razorbacks still leading 18-16. Pulliza called a timeout to stop the Alabama run.
    Arkansas re-establish a five-point lead—23-18—after a consecutive second-contact kills by Santos. The Razorbacks won four of the final five points of the set to clinch the opener, using an Alabama service error on the second set point to close out the opener, 25-19. The home team registered a .423 hitting percentage in the first set.
    After trailing through the early stages of the second set, the Razorbacks evened the score at 10-all with a tandem block from Anderson and Fortado and a kill from Norton. Arkansas took a 15-12 lead after back-to-back kills from Acosta and Santos. Out of an Alabama timeout, Santos and Janeliss Torres-Lopez teamed up for a block.
    Another block, a solo swat by Anderson, pushed the Arkansas lead to 23-16 and forced a second timeout from Crimson Tide head coach. Norton gave the Razorbacks a handful of set points with a kill and on the next play, an Anderson-Santos block secured the set, 25-17, and gave Arkansas the 2-0 match lead. Another late-set run, this time a 5-1 surge, helped close out the game.

    In the third set, the Razorbacks jumped out to an early 5-1 lead but Alabama responded right away to take a 6-5 lead. The score was tied at 9-all before the Crimson Tide scored four of the next five points to take control of the set. The visitors led by as much as four points through the end of the set, picking up their first set win, 25-21, with a kill by Pricilla Duke-Ezeji.

    Just like the third set, Arkansas went out to a 5-1 lead to start the fourth. The Crimson Tide chipped away before tying the score at 14-all on another kill by Duke-Ezeji. The teams traded points late into the set until the score was tied at 22-22. Alabama scored the final three points to clinch the fourth set, forcing a fifth with a kill Sierra Wilson.

    Arkansas will return to Barnhill Arena Sunday afternoon to face Missouri (15-7, 7-5 SEC). First serve of the Southeastern Conference match is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. (CT). The two programs last met during the 2005 season, prior to the Tigers joining the SEC. Missouri leads the all-time series with Arkansas, 3-2.

    Single-match tickets are $4, while fans 17 years and younger are admitted for free. University of Arkansas students attending volleyball matches this season are asked to use the street-level entrance on Stadium Drive to enter Barnhill Arena.

    Aggies Defeat LSU, 3-1

    BATON, ROUGE, La. -- Alisia Kastmo tallied 16 kills and Allie Sawatzky and Lindsey Miller combined for 22 kills with no errors to lead Texas A&M to 25-20, 22-25, 25-11, 25-16 victory over LSU tonight at the Maravich Center.
    A&M snapped its three-match losing skid and improves to 16-5 overall and 8-4 in the Southeastern Conference to remain tied with Arkansas for first place in the SEC Western Division.
    Seven-time defending Western Division champion LSU, currently in third place in the Western Division, falls to 9-13 overall and 5-8 in the SEC.
    The early part of the opening set was filled with long rallies with both teams displaying scrappy defensive saves. The Aggies eventually pulled away for a 7-3 lead, but LSU later went on a 9-2 run to overtake the lead and go up 15-11 at the media timeout. Kastmo came back from the timeout and put down a cross-court shot that sparked a three-point run for the Aggies. LSU’s Kati Leak ended the run with a kill, but Heather Reynolds’ roll shot fell to the ground to put A&M within 16-15. LSU’s next attack sailed long, and then Reynolds put down her fourth kill to return the lead to the Aggies.
    A&M, which outhit the Tigers .213 to .089 in the set, later led 22-20 when Sawatzky connected on a kill and LSU hit wide to put the Aggies at set point. Tori Mellinger then blasted a kill down the line to give the Aggies the 25-20 victory.
    A&M spotted the Tigers a 4-0 lead to start the second set, but the Aggies would later use a 5-0 run, taking advantage of LSU errors to take their first lead at 12-11. A sharp-angle kill by Mellinger, another attack error by LSU and a Kastmo kill down the Tiger block gave the Aggies their biggest lead at 15-12, but it was short-lived. LSU countered with four consecutive kills and a block to go up 17-15. A back-row kill by Kastmo ended another long rally and tied the score for the final time at 18-18, but A&M was unable to take the lead as LSU scored the next three points and kept the lead for the remainder of the frame. The Tigers stretched the lead to 24-20, and A&M fought off two set points before Madie Jones put down a kill that gave LSU the 25-22 win to even the match at a set apiece.
    The third set was tied at 3-3 when Sawatzky and Miller took over, spurring the Aggies on an 8-1 run. Miller tallied three kills during the rally and Sawatzky recorded two of her set-leading six kills, and the two also combined for a block during the surge. The Aggies, who outhit the Tigers .324 to .024 in the set, continued to find the floor with their attacks while thwarting the LSU offense with tough serving and four total blocks in the set.
    LSU used a three-point run to get within 18-11 but would go scoreless for the remainder of the set. The Tigers served into the net, sending Kastmo to the service line. The Tyler, Texas, native served two of her career-high four aces, and with Sawatzky and Miller controlling the net, Kastmo served out the set as A&M held the Tigers to their fewest points in a 25-point set this season.
    A&M carried the momentum into the fourth set, jumping out to a commanding 14-4 lead. The Aggies built their largest lead at 23-12 when LSU posted three consecutive kills to get within 23-15. LSU hit long on the next play to put the Aggies at match point. The Tigers got a block before freshman middle blocker Shelby Sullivan got a kill to end the match.
    Sawatzky finished the match with 10 kills and no errors for a .476 hitting percentage. She also had 42 assists and tied her season high with four blocks. Miller, who had 12 kills and zero errors for a .480 hitting efficiency, led all players with six blocks as A&M outblocked the Tigers, 10-6.
    Libero Megan Pendergast led the Aggies with 21 digs, and Mellinger added 19. Kastmo added 13 digs to complete her sixth double-double, and Heather Reynolds, whose two aces helped A&M to a 7-1 advantage in service aces, finished with 11 digs.
    Desiree Elliott led the Tigers with 22 kills while hitting at a .390 clip. Libero Meghan Mannari led all players with 23 digs.
    A&M continues its road swing, taking on South Carolina Sunday in Columbia. First serve is at 12:30 p.m. (1:30 ET) at the Volleyball Competition Facility. A&M is 3-0 in the all-time series against the Gamecocks, including a 3-0 sweep in College Station earlier this season.
    Live video will be available on 12thMan.TV to premium subscribers. A free audio webcast of the match also will be available on 12thMan.TV with Chelsea Reber and Kelly Stumph calling the action.