Sept. 13, 2013
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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The No. 19 University of Kentucky team suffered a 3-0 (24-26, 18-25, 23-25) loss to Pepperdine Friday evening in the Bluegrass Battle in Memorial Coliseum.
The loss snapped Kentucky's (5-3) five match winning streak and four straight home victories. The win marked the third sweep of the season for Pepperdine (5-2).
The contest was the second match of the 2013 Bluegrass Battle, which featured a 3-0 victory by No. 4 Minnesota over Louisville in the opening game. The Wildcats and Golden Gophers square off tomorrow at 7 p.m., preceded by the Cardinals and Waves matchup at 5 p.m.
"It was a disappointing performance, we didn't come to play," UK head coach Craig Skinnersaid. "Pepperdine had too many runs and didn't allow us to get in a rhythm offensively, that was the difference in the match."
Junior Lauren O'Conner led UK with 11 kills for a team best .389 hitting clip. The outside hitter also led the squad with three blocks. Senior Whitney Billings produced seven kills and three service aces on the night, while Morgan Bergrendished out 32 assists.
On the defensive, junior Jackie Napper had 11 digs, while Billings and freshman Anni Thomassonproduced 10 apiece.
"We just weren't ready to go," Skinner added. "We had the lead in game one, 16-12, and from that point on, weren't focused, weren't competing. Pepperdine did the right things to win the match. We didn't play aggressive enough and Pepperdine did. To play good teams, you have to be aggressive enough, and we didn't do that tonight."
Pepperdine rallied from a 16-12 deficit to claim a 26-24 opening set victory and a 1-0 lead in the match. The Waves accounted for 18 kills on .317 hitting in the stanza. UK put down 14 on a .205 clip. O'Conner led the way with a match-high six in the frame. Napper picked up six digs to lead the defensive effort for the Cats.
The visitors opened up to a 5-0 lead in the second set and never trailed en route to a 25-18 win and a 2-0 advantage into the break. The Waves accounted for 14 kills on .423 hitting, while UK managed just nine hammers on .138 hitting. O'Conner and Morgan both had three kills in the set, while Thomasson had five digs.
The third set began as a back-and-forth battle with neither team able to shake loose for more than a two-point edge. UK eventually claimed a 23-18 advantage, but Pepperdine would go on to score the next seven points to rally for the 3-0 victory and a 25-23 set score. Pepperdine had 12 kills on .176 hitting, but capitalized on UK's errors. The Wildcats logged 11 kills on a .056 clip with Billings charting four of those kills. Pepperdine accounted for five blocks in the stanza including the match-clinching point.
Kentucky's Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 13-14. UK is one of four sites selected for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in Seattle, Wash., from the Lexington Region. This marks the second time in three seasons Memorial Coliseum will host this premier volleyball event.
Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the Kentucky volleyball team and all 22 varsity sports.