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    SEC Volleyball Today: November 23

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

    Gamecocks Outlast Arkansas in Five Sets to Close 2012
                    
    COLUMBIA, S.C. – Sending 2012 seniors Taylor Bruns and Christina Glover out in style, South Carolina (18-14, 6-14 SEC) outlasted Arkansas in a five-set win, taking the sets 24-26, 25-18, 26-28, 19-25, 15-10 on Friday afternoon at the Volleyball Competition Facility.

    Bruns posted 52 assists, four kills, two aces and seven digs in the victory, guiding the team to a .357 hitting percentage in the contest, the highest in program history in a five-set affair. Glover added a career-high three aces, one-third of the team’s total, and seven digs in her final match in the Garnet and Black.

    Junior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin led all players with 26 kills, one under her career high, while hitting .388 in the contest. Sophomore outside hitter Bethanie Thomas posted a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs, while redshirt sophomore middle blocker Cara Howley hit a season-high .571 with 15 kills and led the Gamecocks with three blocks to contribute to the win. Junior libero Paige Wheeler tallied 12 digs, while freshman outside hitter Jenna Allen added eight kills.

    Jasmine Norton led Arkansas (22-9, 13-7 SEC) with 18 kills, while Liz Fortado and Roslandy Acosta both added 13. Amanda Anderson hit .500 and tallied 11 kills. Raymariely Santos had 54 assists, five kills, two aces and eight digs. Emily Helm added 13 digs, while Fortado and Janeliss Torres-Lopez both had four block assists.

    The Gameocks came back from a six-point deficit in the first to force the extra points. Falling back 18-12, the Gamecocks posted a five-point run on Glover’s serve, including one of her aces, to draw within one. Howley had two kills and a solo block in the sequence as well. A 5-1 skein handed South Carolina the lead at 22-21, as a Thévenin kill ended that run. But the Razorbacks came back to take the set, getting kills from Anderson and Santos to cap it at 26-24. Thévenin had five kills in the first frame, but Norton matched her with five as well.

    Two late runs helped South Carolina to a 25-18 set-two win. Up by one, the Gamecocks ripped off a four-point string thanks to two Glover aces to make it 19-14. After a three-point Razorback run, the Gamecocks responded with a five-point skein to get to set point. Thomas had an ace during the stretch to push the Gamecocks to the brink. Thévenin ended things with her sixth kill of the frame. Both Thomas and Wheeler had five digs in the second.

    A close third set went South Carolina’s way, 28-26. The Gamecocks got to set point after a Razorback attack error, but Arkansas came back with four-straight points to tied the match at 24-24. Norton had two kills in the stretch. After Thévenin and Norton traded kills twice, Thomas landed one to give the Gamecocks their seventh set-point opportunity. A strong serve by Wheeler led to an Arkansas overpass that Howley put away to close the set at 28-26. Thévenin had seven kills, while Howley and Thomas both had four without an error on five swings in the third.

    The fourth went to Arkansas, 25-19. A five-point run, powered by two Ashley Vazquez aces, gave the Razorbacks a 15-12 lead that they would never relinquish. Acosta had five kills on five chances in the frame to lead Arkansas.

    The Gamecocks ran out to a 5-0 lead in the fifth thanks to a Thomas ace and two kills from Thévenin. Arkansas got within three twice, but a consecutive kills by Allen stopped the first comeback try. South Carolina responded to the second comeback attempt with a three-point stand, led by a Howley kill and a block by Howley and Thomas. Thomas ended the match with her 11th kill of the day. Thévenin had four kills in the final stanza.

    South Carolina won the hitting percentage (.357-.322) and ace battle (9-8), while Arkansas won the rest. Thévenin pushed her way into eighth place in Gamecock history in kills, ending the year with 1,124, while Wheeler became the ninth Gamecock to tally 1,000 digs, now with 1,001 career scoops. Bruns finished her career with 2,858 assists, sixth in program history. Bruns and Glover as well as manager Brandi Byers were honored in a post-match ceremony.

    The Gamecocks, under second-year head coach Scott Swanson, posted the second winning season in a decade at South Carolina.
     



    Wildcats Win 20th Match of the Year in Sweep of Auburn

    AUBURN, Ala. – For the fifth time in the last six seasons the Kentucky volleyball team has secured 20 or more victories following a 3-0 (25-23, 25-14, 25-16) win over Auburn in the final regular-season match of the season on Friday afternoon. Junior Whitney Billings had her 16th double-double effort of the season with a team-high 12 kills and 12 digs in the win.

    “I thought we played really well defensively and we sided out efficiently for most of the match,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “I’m most proud of how we toughed it out at the end of set one and sealed that one.”

    UK fought off a late three-point deficit in the match’s opening frame to earn the 1-0 lead and consequently use that momentum to ride out a dominating finish. With the win the Wildcats improve to 20-10 on the year and 14-6 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn finishes the season with a 17-13 record and an 8-12 mark in league action.

    Kentucky will await its fate for entry into the NCAA Tournament for an eighth-consecutive season when the field of 64 is announced on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET. The announcement will air live on ESPNU.

    Senior setter Christine Hartmann dished out 36 assists and added a trio of blocks in the win. Junior Alexandra Morgan struck for nine kills on a match-high .692 percentage while also contributing a match-high seven blocks. Freshman Kayla Tronick provided eight kills and senior Ashley Frazier added six and three aces. Sophomore Lauren O’Conner totaled three kills, one ace and a pair of blocks and digs.

    Senior Stephanie Klefot logged a match-high 15 digs and totaled a pair of aces. Sophomore Jackie Napper had seven scoops to aid the Wildcat cause.

    The Wildcats clawed back from a late three-point deficit in the opening set to earn a 25-23 opening stanza victory. UK totaled 15 kills on .216 hitting and Auburn had 13 for a .211 clip. Morgan paced the attack for the visitors with five kills on .714 hitting. Klefot provided seven digs in the frame.

    Napper opened the scoring with an ace and UK extended its lead to 4-2 early on a Morgan-O’Conner block. Auburn fought back and knotted the score at four before the home team would earn a 6-4 lead. A kill from Tronick tied things again at 17, but the Tigers scored three-straight to take a 20-17 lead late in the frame. Billings then erupted for consecutive kills to bring UK within one at 22-21. O’Conner’s kill tied things at 22 and then Frazier capped the set with the winning kill for the 1-0 advantage.

    UK used a dominating second set to extend its lead to 2-0 into the locker room. Kentucky secured a 25-14 second set victory behind 12 kills on a blistering .429 hitting clip with Billings leading the charge with four. Auburn totaled just nine kills on .115 hitting in the set.

    Kentucky raced out to an early 3-1 lead behind an ace from Klefot and a kill from Tronick. The edge would be all the Wildcats would need in the dominating performance. The Blue and White took a commanding 16-9 advantage on a Hartmann-Morgan block. Billings closed the set with her seventh kill of the match for the win.

    The teams swapped points to open the third set before consecutive kills from Frazier gave UK a 6-3 lead it would never relinquish. An ace by Frazier gave the Blue and White its largest lead of the early going at 12-6 prompting Auburn into a timeout. Consecutive blocks from Morgan pushed the lead to 15-7 in favor of the visitors. UK would finish the win by forcing the Tigers into an erroneous attack for the match’s winning point.

    UK had 16 kills on a .378 clip in the final frame. Auburn was limited to 10 kills on a mere .097 clip.
     



    No. 15 Gator Volleyball Sweeps Georgia, 3-0, in Regular Season Finale

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The No. 15 Florida volleyball team (25-4, 19-1 SEC) ended the 2012 regular season on a high note, sweeping SEC rival Georgia, 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-19), on Friday evening. The Gators finished the season winning seven of their final eight matches and took the SEC title home to Gainesville with a near-perfect 19-1 conference record.

    "To end the season with a win tonight, we knew we had to come in here and play our hardest," Florida head coach Mary Wise said. "I can't say enough about our fight against a tough Georgia team, who never backed down."

    Florida's 3-0 sweep of Georgia was just the second time the Bulldogs were swept on their home floor in 2012. It marked the Gators' 17th sweep of the season and gives Florida 25 wins for the 22nd consecutive season, all under Wise.

    The Gators had three players in double-digit kills on Friday, led by the stellar play of Florida's middles. Senior Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), who grew up just 60 minutes from Athens, turned in 10 kills and three blocks on the night. Fellow middle Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) tallied 10 kills and five blocks against the Bulldogs, hitting .471 on the evening.

    Freshman outside hitter Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) was the third Gator in double digits, posting a match-high 12 kills against Georgia. Junior setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) dished out 32 assists on the night, scooping 11 digs for her third double-double as a Gator.

    Sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) registered 19 digs on the night, the most in a 3-set match since Elyse Cusack at Alabama on Oct. 30, 2009. Sophomore defensive specialists Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.) and Holly Pole (Ocala, Fla.) combined for 14 digs against the Bulldogs.

    Florida took the opening frame, 25-21. The teams traded points to start the match with Georgia taking a quick two-point lead after a Florida attacking error, 6-4. The Gators pushed back and tied the set at 8-all after a Brauneis solo stuff. A Recek kill through the seam of the block put the Orange and Blue ahead, 9-8, and Florida scored three straight points to force a Georgia timeout, 12-9.

    Two Mann kills got the Gators to their largest lead of the set so far, 17-13, and a Recek kill on the overpass gave the Gators a 19-15 lead as the Bulldogs burned their second timeout of the set. Unroe served up an ace out of the break to put Florida up by five, 20-15. A Smith kill on the slide got the Gators within two of the set victory, 23-19, and Mann put the set away with a slam off the quick set from Brauneis, 25-21.

    Back-to-back hitting errors gave Florida a two-point advantage, 4-2. A Gator attacking error tied the frame at 5-5, but UF went on a 5-1 run courtesy of back-to-back kills by Recek and a Smith slam, 10-6. A Mann-Brauneis stuff block forced a Georgia timeout, 14-10, and Mann teamed up with both Brauneis and Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.), respectively, to turn in three straight blocks and lead 16-10. Another Florida roof, this one by Wiggs and Mann, kept the Gators out in front at 18-14. The Bulldogs scored two quick points to cut the Gators' lead to two, 18-16, forcing a Florida timeout.

    The Orange and Blue scored two straight points of their own to pull back out to a four-point lead, 20-16, and Wiggs slammed one over the block to put Florida within four of the set win, 21-17. Monserez served up an ace to force Georgia to burn their second timeout at 22-17. The Bulldogs pulled within two of the Florida advantage, 23-21, forcing a Gator timeout. A Georgia attacking error gave the Gators set point and a Recek kill down the pipe put the second stanza in Florida's hands, 25-22.

    A Mann-Wiggs stuff block sparked a 4-0 scoring rally for Florida to go ahead 9-6, but Georgia pulled back within one of the Gators' lead, 11-10. The Orange and Blue strung together two straight to pull back out to a three-point advantage, 13-10, forcing a Georgia timeout after a Brauneis-Smith roof. A Recek service ace out of the break put Florida up four, 14-10, and smart swings by middle Smith and Mann got the Gators out to a five-point lead, 16-11.

    Florida won a long rally courtesy of phenomenal defense by Unroe and Pole to lead 20-15, and a Smith slide kill put the Gators ahead, 21-16. Two consecutive Recek kills gave the Gators match point and a Berkley Whaley (St. Petersburg, Fla.)-Smith block put the match in Florida's hands, 25-19.

    The Gators now await their NCAA fate. Florida earned the SEC's automatic bid for the NCAA Championships with their SEC title last weekend. The NCAA Selection Show will air live on Sunday, November 25th at 4 p.m. on ESPNU.
     



    Alabama Volleyball Closes Season with a Thrilling Five-Set Win at Missouri
     
    COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Alabama volleyball team wrapped up its 2012 season with a 3-2 (15-25, 25-19, 17-25, 25-23, 15-12) Southeastern Conference victory over the Missouri Tigers on Friday night, from the Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo. With the thrilling win, the Crimson Tide completes its season with an 18-14 overall record, while finishing 7-13 in SEC play. The Tigers drop to 19-12 overall and 10-10 in their first SEC campaign.
     
    For the first time this season, Alabama posted a five-set win, as senior outside hitter Kayla Fitterer ended her career with the final kill of the match. Alabama battled back from a 9-11 deficit in the deciding set, winning six of the final seven points to pull out the huge road win to close the season. UA finished the season with a 1-4 record in five-set matches this season.
     
    Despite being out hit .364 to .318,  losing the blocks battle, 9-4, and being out-dug 61-55, Alabama was able to grind out the win and finish the season with a 5-7 record in road matches.
     
    Fitterer paced the Tide with a season-high tying and match-high 26 kills in her final match in an Alabama uniform, and finished the night with a .367 hitting percentage and eight digs. With her 26 kills and eight digs, Fitterer finishes her career at the Capstone with 1,351 kills and 886 digs. Her 1,351 kills rank seventh all-time and she ends her career with 4,137 attempts, which is the second most in school history.
     
    Sierra Wilson finished the night with a career-high 64 assists to finish the season with 1,292 assists, which ranks as the 10th most in a single season at Alabama. Laura Steiner added 19 kills and Kanesha Burch chipped in with 12 kills and a .360 hitting percentage. Cristina Arenas paced the Tide with 17 digs, Kelsey Melito added 11 and Kryssi Daniels had 10.
     
    Lisa Henning was one of three Tigers to reach double figures in kills as she finished the night with 24. Emily Wilson had 16 kills and Whitney Little added 13. Henning had four total blocks, Little had three assisted blocks and Lydia Ely led all players with five assisted blocks.
     
    Alabama dropped the opening set, 25-15, as the Tigers posted a .571 hitting percentage in the set, while UA hit .267. In the second set, the Tide evened the match with a 25-19 victory, as Fitterer had six kills and Steiner added four, as the Tide produced 18 kills and a .341 hitting percentage in the frame.
     
    Missouri took a 2-1 lead in the match following a 25-17 win in the third set. The Tigers hit .375 in the set and UA had a .258 mark in the frame.
     
    Alabama evened the match at two sets each with a 25-23 win on the fourth set. After leading early in the set, Alabama trailed 13-10 before making a late run. UA took a 19-18 lead following a kill by Andrea McQuaid, then held a 24-21 lead following a hitting error by Missouri. After two points by the Tigers, a kill by Fitterer gave Bama the fourth set to even the match at 2-2.
     




    UT Sweeps MSU In Regular Season Finale

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In its final regular season match of the 2012 campaign, the Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team swept Mississippi State, 3-0 (25-10, 25-15, 25-22), on Friday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. The victory extended Tennessee's winning streak to 10 against the Bulldogs and completed the season sweep of the opponent.

    The Big Orange finishes the season with a 22-7 overall record and a 15-5 mark in Southeastern Conference play. Mississippi State concludes the season at 4-25 overall and 0-20 in SEC action. UT now holds a commanding 43-7 all-time advantage over the Bulldogs and has won 25 of the last 26 meetings.

    Junior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson led the way for the Lady Vols, compiling a match-high 15 kills and a .448 attacking percentage. Robinson committed just two hitting errors on 29 swings and added six digs and three blocks defensively. Senior DeeDee Harrison was solid in the middle, generating 14 kills and .370 attacking clip. The Nashville native also put down a match-high six blocks in the match.

    Sophomore setter Mary Pollmiller handed out 38 assists - for an average of 12.67 per set - and had six digs for UT. She paced the Tennessee attack to an impressive .368 team hitting percentage. On 95 swings, UT committed just 11 errors and out-killed the Bulldogs by a 46-30 margin.

    The Lady Vols had a balanced defensive night, picking up an impressive 13 team blocks in the three-setter. Tennessee had five players with two or more stuffs in the match. In addition to Harrison's six, her classmates Kayla Jeter and Leslie Cikra each put down four. Jeter had two solos. Sophomore middle Olivia Okoro added two rejections and five kills. Cikra also had five putaways - with no errors - and hit .455 in the match.

    Junior libero Ellen Mullins led the Tennessee back row with a match-high tying 15 digs. The conference's leader in digs - Mississippi State's Roxanne McVey - tallied 15 scoops for the Bulldogs. Freshman Bianca Arellano added six for UT, which outdug Mississippi State by a 41-35 margin. Tennessee held MSU to a .061 attacking line in the finale.

    Pollmiller dished out 14 assists in the first set alone, as the Lady Vols put down 17 kills and committed just one error on 28 swings. Led by Harrison, Robinson and Okoro, Tennessee finished the frame with a .571 hitting percentage. The trio combined for 13 kills and hit .500, .375 and a perfect 1.000, respectively. The Big Orange also put up a huge block in the opening frame, earning five team blocks in the set. Harrison and Cikra each finished the game with three rejections. The Lady Vols used a 12-1 run in the game, which included an 8-0 rally, to win the frame by a convincing 25-10 margin.

    Harrison continued to lead the Lady Vols in the second, putting down four kills on four swings to lead UT to a 25-15 win and a 2-0 advantage into the break. Tennessee added five more rejections in the frame, bringing the team total to 10 at intermission. The Big Orange, which used a 6-0 run to gain control of the set, hit .440 in the game. Jeter led UT with three blocks, including two solo stuffs, while Okoro added two. The Orange and White was hitting a blazing .509 through two sets.

    The Lady Vols had to battle in the third set, coming back from an 8-5 deficit to finish with a 25-22 victory. A Mississippi State hitting error and two Tennessee blocks gave the Lady Vols a 3-0 run and a 13-12 advantage forcing the Bulldogs to call a timeout. Mullins' serving coupled with two Robinson kills and a kill by sophomore Shealyn Kolosky gave Tennessee another quick 4-0 burst and the Bulldogs were forced to use their final timeout of the match. The match remained close, but Pollmiller closed it out with three-straight serves and Robinson put the nail in the coffin slicing a shot inside the 10-foot line for the win.

    The Lady Vols will find out their NCAA fate during the annual 64-team Selection Show on Sunday, November 25 at 4 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
     




    Aggies Down Ole Miss, 3-2, in Regular Season Finale
     
    OXFORD, Miss.  – Lindsey Miller recorded a match-high 20 kills to lead Texas A&M to its ninth straight win, a 25-9, 24-26, 27-25, 20-25, 15-10 win at Ole Miss tonight in both teams’ regular season finale.
     
    A&M improved to 24-5 overall, the most wins since 2001 when the Aggies went 26-6 and advanced to the NCAA Regional Final. In addition, A&M closed out its inaugural season as a member of the Southeastern Conference with a 16-4 league mark, winning the SEC Western Division championship and placing second overall.
     
    A&M’s next match is to be determined as the 64-team NCAA Championship bracket will be unveiled Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPNU. The Aggies, who entered the week No. 18 in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) and defeated No. 15 (RPI) Tennessee on Wednesday will make their 19th NCAA tournament appearance and are hopeful of hosting first and second rounds for the second consecutive year.
     
    A&M jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the opening set and was in command the entire frame. The Aggies, who outhit Ole Miss, .500 to .000, surged to a 19-9 lead when setter Allie Sawatzky began a six-point rally with a dump kill. Ole Miss hit long on the next play, and Tori Mellinger followed with back-to-back kills to put A&M up 23-9. Another Ole Miss attack error put the Aggies at set point, and Miller capped the win with a kill on the slide attack.
     
    There were 14 ties and six lead changes in the second set as Ole Miss played with much more aggression and accuracy and outhit the Aggies, .368 to .258. Ole Miss held a 16-13 lead before A&M went on a 4-0 run to take a 17-16 lead. It would be the Aggies’ final lead of the stanza as Kara Morgan powered one of her five kills in the frame to tie the score, and Ty Laporte followed with an ace to return the lead to Ole Miss. A&M tied the set four more times, twice overcoming two-point deficits, but the Aggies were unable to regain the lead. The score was knotted at 23-23 when Allegra Wells put down her sixth kill of the set with an off-speed shot to put Ole Miss at set point. Alisia Kastmo kept the Aggies alive with a kill, but Laporte countered with a kill on the slide attack. Morgan then blasted a kill to give Ole Miss the 26-24 win and even the match at 1-1.
     
    A&M would take a 5-2 lead early in the third set, but Ole Miss fought back and the set turned into another closely contested battle. Ole Miss took its first lead since 2-1 at 18-17, but a set-over kill by Mariah Agre and a block by Stephanie Minnerly and Kastmo returned the lead to the Maroon and White. The teams then began to exchange points and were tied at 25-all when Wells committed an attack error to put A&M at set point. Kastmo and Miller then teamed for a block to clinch the 27-25 win, giving the Aggies a 2-1 lead in the match.
     
    Ole Miss used a 3-0 run to take a 4-3 lead in the fourth set and kept the lead for the reminder of the frame. Ole Miss, which outhit A&M .440 to .114 in the set, later went on a 5-0 run to build a 13-7 lead that A&M was unable to overcome. The Aggies could get no closer than four points for the remainder of the frame, including 23-19 after A&M scored back-to-back points. But then the Aggies served into the net to put Ole Miss at set point. Miller put A&M within 24-20 with a kill on the slide attack, but Morgan answered with an off-speed kill to end the frame and send A&M to its second consecutive five-set match.
     
    The Aggies jumped out to a 3-0 lead to begin the decisive fifth set, but Ole Miss kept chipping away at the lead, getting within 11-10. Miller then took over, posting back-to-back kills and a block along with Mellinger to put the Aggies at match point, 14-10. Mellinger then followed with a kill to clinch the match for the Aggies.
     
    Miller hit .487 while posting her personal season-high 20 kills. Mellinger registered her 14th double-double with 11 kills and a season-high and match-high 22 digs.
     
    A&M outhit Ole Miss, .259 to .206 to improve to 8-0 in the all-time series and complete the season series sweep. A&M also led in kills (68-61), digs (65-59) and digs (70-59). Ole Miss led in blocks, 11-8.