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    SEC Volleyball Today: Friday, September 27

    Friday Volleyball RESULTS
    Kentucky 3, Auburn 0
    Missouri 3, South Carolina 0
    Arkansas 3, Ole Miss 0
    Georgia 3, LSU 2
    Florida 3, Mississippi State 0


    Defensive Surge Leads Kentucky to Sweep of Auburn

    AUBURN, Ala. – A spectacular defensive performance led to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-20) sweep for No. 18 Kentucky over the homestanding Auburn Tigers on Friday night for the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. Kentucky registered 60 digs which ranked as a Craig Skinner-era high for a three-set match. UK also posted 12.5 blocks to rattle Auburn into a mere 29 kills on .102 hitting percentage for the match.

    Senior Alexandra Morgan logged a season-best nine blocks, while junior Jackie Napper led three players in double-figures with 16 digs.

    “I’m really excited about our defensive performance tonight,” Skinner said. “Our blockers were more aggressive tonight and followed the game plan and executed it well. Our floor defense was also a difference-maker tonight.”

    With the victory the Wildcats improve to 9-3 on the season and 1-0 in league competition. Auburn drops to 9-4 and 0-1 in SEC play. Kentucky resumes league action with a road matchup at Alabama on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET. The match will be Alabama’s first SEC competition of the season.

    Senior Whitney Billings led the way offensively with a match-high 17 kills on a .312 hitting clip. She also added 14 digs and four block assists. Sophomore Shelby Workman totaled eight kills, 10 digs and a pair of aces. Morgan and freshman Anni Thomasson both registered seven kills apiece. Thomasson added eight digs to the defensive effort. Sophomore setter Morgan Bergren dished out 37 assists while adding eight digs and four blocks in the win. Sophomore Sara Schwarzwalder contributed four kills and a trio of blocks.

    Auburn raced out to a 4-0 lead in the opening stanza before a kill from Workman ended the run. The Blue and White utilized a 5-2 run capped by consecutive kills from Workman to knot the score at nine apiece. Kentucky then stretched the run to a 7-2 scamper for an 11-9 advantage forcing the Tigers to use their first timeout.

    Kentucky’s assent didn’t conclude there. After trailing 8-4 the Wildcats put together a 14-5 stretch to take an 18-13 lead. Auburn burned its final timeout to attempt to quell the run. Kentucky wasted little time concluding the frame with a 25-19 opening set victory.

    UK posted 19 kills on .238 hitting with Billings connecting for seven. Workman added five, while Morgan laid down a trio. Billings paced the defensive effort with eight digs, while Morgan was in on four blocks. Bergren dished out 14 assists and added four scoops. UK’s defense logged 22 digs compared to just 13 from Auburn. The Tigers were flustered into connecting for just eight kills on a .105 hitting clip.

    The Blue and White opened the second set by taking a commanding 5-0 lead highlighted by a kill and rejection from Billings. Kentucky didn’t let off the gas; however, as the Wildcats extended the lead to an 11-3 margin before Auburn called its first timeout. The breathing room would be all the more the Cats would need en route to a 25-20 second set victory.

    UK struck for 13 kills led by five from the right hand of Thomasson. Workman’s five digs led the defensive charge, while Schwarzwalder’s three blocks led the way at the net. Auburn managed 11 kills on a .081 hitting percentage as UK’s defensive effort continued to agitate the home team.

    After Auburn took the opening point of the third set, UK scored the next four including a heady play by Schwarzwalder on an overpass. Back-to-back blocks from Morgan, Thomasson and Billings propelled the Cats to an early 7-2 lead forcing Auburn into a quick timeout. The Tigers fought back and got back to within one at 14-13 when Skinner called a timeout.

    Out of the break, Billings found a spot in the deep corner to end the Tiger run. The teams would swap points until UK strung together a pair of points with a kill from Thomasson followed by a block from Morgan and Bergren for a 19-15 edge. Auburn opted to take its final timeout, but the Wildcats would be able to push through and claim the final set by a 25-20 margin as Billings’ 17th kill of the match was the winning point.

    Kentucky logged 18 kills in the final frame with Billings leading the charge with seven in the final stanza. Napper paced the defensive effort with 10 digs over the final set, while Billings added six. Morgan tallied three blocks.

    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.

    Tigers Dominate South Carolina to Move to 16-0

    COLUMBIA, Mo. – It was another stellar offensive performance for the undefeated Mizzou volleyball team as it hit .559 in a 3-0 (25-16, 25-14, 25-18) sweep of South Carolina in its SEC opener on Friday night (Sept. 27) at the Hearnes Center. The win improves Mizzou to a national-best 16-0 and 1-0 in SEC play. The Tigers’ .559 attack percentage is the third-best mark in program history and the best ever against a conference opponent, breaking the previous-best mark of .458, set in 2005 against Baylor. The Tigers have now swept a school-record 10 consecutive matches and raised their national-best hitting percentage to .400 in the win. 2,904 fans took in the match on Friday.

    “First I want to say thanks to all of the fans that came out tonight; that was one of the better crowds that we have had here in a while and I think it made this a very tough place to play,” head coach Wayne Kreklow said. “We did a lot of nice things tonight and we were in system a lot, which is evident by our hitting percentage. Molly did a great job of setting up our hitters and we just have a lot of options right now and it makes it hard the other teams to defend. I am pleased with our effort, but we have a very tough week coming up next week that we need to be ready for.”

    Mizzou’s .559 hitting percentage on the night was due in large part to its three outside hitters – Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.), Carly Kan (Honolulu, Hawaii) and Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) – as all three hit .583 or better in the win with just two combined errors. Henning led Mizzou with 14 kills on .722 hitting, a career-best, and Kan pitched in 13 kills on .706 hitting, also a career-best. Wilson was sensational as well with seven kills on 12 errorless attacks. In all, Mizzou committed just seven attack errors on the night, lowering their national-best average to just 2.92 attack errors per set this season.

    Senior setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) continued to set the tempo for the offense on Friday night, spreading 35 assists on 45 Tiger kills while pulling in 11 digs, good for her fifth double-double of the season. She again set up one-on-one blocks for the Tiger hitters all night and anchored an offense that was almost unstoppable as South Carolina dug just 16 of Mizzou’s 68 attacks. All-SEC junior Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) also was sensational with five kills on eight swings, but she did commit an attack error for the first time in five matches. She also pitched in seven total blocks (two solo, five assists) as Mizzou had 8.5 total blocks in the win. Junior libero Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.) tallied nine digs in the win as well. Also worth noting on Friday is that Mizzou limited USC’s Juliette Thevenin, the reigning SEC Player of the Week, to just 10 kills on .208 hitting.

    The match opened with South Carolina keeping things close until Mizzou blew the doors off with an 11-2 run to close out the set. SC tied the set at 14-14, but Mizzou used its efficient attack to run off 11 of the last 13 points to close the set, 25-16. Mizzou hit an eye-popping .652 in the first set with 17 kills while South Carolina had just six on .092 hitting.

    The second set was similar with Mizzou scoring 19 of the final 15 points to take a 25-14 set win and a 2-0 lead heading into the break. South Carolina again did not break double-figures in kills in the first set with just nine while Mizzou had 11 on just 18 attacks. The Tigers raw way with the third, again tallying 17 kills to clinch the sweep.

    The Tigers will face arguably their toughest week of the season next week as they head to Arkansas Wednesday for a nationally-televised match with Razorbacks on ESPNU before coming home Friday to face an Auburn team that has already knocked off perennial power Nebraska this season. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to and follow the team on twitter @MizzouVB.  

    Razorbacks Sweep Ole Miss In SEC Opener

    OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team opened Southeastern Conference play with a sweep of Ole Miss (26-24, 30-28, 25-18) Friday night at the Gillom Sports Center in Oxford. With Friday’s victory, the Razorbacks improve to 8-4 overall and 1-0 in league play. Arkansas was paced offensively by junior Meredith Hays who tallied a match-high 17 kills. Defensively, senior libero Emily Helm led all players with 16 digs.

    With her eighth assist of the match, senior setter Raymariely Santos moved into sole possession of second place on the program’s career assist list. The Ponce, Puerto Rico, native moved past Ning Zhao (1998-99) with the first-set assist to Hays. Santos finished the night with 27 assists and currently has 3,202 in her career.

    Senior Hayley Koop reached a milestone of her own, posting the 250th kill of her Arkansas career with her last kill of the match against the Rebels. She finished the night with 12 kills on a .375 hitting percentage. Both Arkansas outside hitters were efficient in the conference opener with Hays adding a .350 figure. Overall, the Razorbacks posted a .295 hitting percentage in Friday’s match.

    The Razorbacks posted a pair of set wins to open the match and take a 2-0 match lead into the locker room. Arkansas had four set points in the first game, clinching the set with an out-of-system kill down the line from Hays. In the second set, the Razorbacks saved four set points by Ole Miss before capitalizing on their second opportunity behind consecutive kill from Hays.

    The third set was a back-and-forth contest until Arkansas won six of eight points to take a 19-15 lead on a solo block by freshman Barbara Dapic. Fellow freshman Breana Jones found the floor to set up match point for the Razorbacks at 24-18 and on the next point, Hays had the final kill of the night on an overpassed ball set up by a tough serve from freshman Megan Mollett.

    The Razorbacks close out their weekend Sunday with a 1:30 p.m. (CT) matchup with Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss. Arkansas leads the all-time series between the two programs, 33-5, and has won the last four against the Bulldogs. The Razorbacks’ SEC home opener is Oct. 2 against Missouri, a 6 p.m. match that will be televised by ESPNU.

    Georgia Picks Up 3-2 Win Over LSU in SEC Opener

    BATON ROUGE, La. – In its first five-set match of the season, Georgia picked up a (24-26, 25-21, 16-25, 26-25, 15-9) win over the LSU Tigers on Friday, Sept. 27 at the Maravich Center in Baton Rouge, La. The win marked the second-straight year that Georgia has defeated the Tigers in Baton Rouge. With the win, Georgia moves to 11-2 on the year, its best start since 1993, and 1-0 in Southeastern Conference action. LSU falls to 10-2 overall and 0-1 in the SEC.

    Stacey Smith led all Georgia attackers with a career-best 19 kills, marking the 5th time this season that the senior has notched a double-digit kill performance. Tirah Le’au finished with 16 kills, while Lauren Teknipp notched 14 kills. Kaylee Kehoe paced the offense with 29 assists. Maggie Baumert added 27 assists.

    Georgia was stout defensively, picking up three solo blocks and 25 assisted blocks. Elena Perri and Smith led the Bulldogs defensively at the net, finishing with five blocks each, followed by Jasmine Eatmon and Desiree McCray with four blocks. Allison Summers led Georgia with a career-best 38 digs.

    The score knotted 11 times as the Bulldogs and Tigers battled in the first set. LSU took an early lead before Georgia was able to score three-straight points to take its first two-point lead of the set at 14-12. The Bulldogs maintained their advantage until back-to-back LSU kills tied the set at 22. With Georgia holding a 24-23 lead, LSU scored the final three-point to win the first 26-24 and take a 1-0 lead in the match.

    The second set mirrored the first set, as the teams tied five times before the Tigers edged out to a 10-5 lead. Georgia fought its way back, using a block by Eatmon and Smith to cut the lead to three at 14-11. Georgia scored three-straight points on kills by Teknipp and Le’au that forced LSU to use a timeout at the 15-14 mark. An LSU attack error and an Eatmon killed allowed the Bulldogs to take a 16-15 lead. Holding an 18-17 lead, the Bulldogs strung together three points to extend its lead to 21-17, which made LSU burn its second timeout. The Tigers made it a two-point set at 23-21, but the Bulldogs settled in and scored the final two points on kills by Smith and Le’au to take the second set 25-21 and tie the match at 1-1.

    The Tigers came out strong in the third set, jumping out to a 9-5 lead that forced Georgia to use a timeout. A kill by Teknipp ended the run, but LSU was able to maintain its lead, eventually pulling away by a score of 17-10, causing the Bulldogs to call their final timeout of the set. LSU scored eight of the final 14 points to take a 2-1 lead with a 25-16 set three win.

    Georgia opened up to a 4-1 lead in the fourth set before three-straight LSU points tied the set at four. With the score knotted a 6-6, the Bulldogs scored four-straight points, including three on Teknipp kills, to take a 10-6 lead. After an LSU timeout with Georgia leading 14-10, the Tigers scored three-straight points to make it a one-point set at 14-13, forcing a Bulldog timeout. Out of the break, neither team was able to take hold of the set, as the score tied nine more times. After back-to-back points, LSU took a 23-22 lead that caused Georgia to use its final timeout of the set. Le’au and Buckendahl picked up back-to-back kills that gave Georgia set point at 24-23 and forced LSU to use a timeout. The teams tied twice before a kill by Teknipp gave Georgia set point for the second time at 26-25. McCray subbed in following the Teknipp kill and combined with Chloe Buckendahl and Teknipp for a block sealed the 27-25 set four win that forced a fifth set.

    The Bulldogs dominated the opening possessions of the fifth and final set, jumping out to an 8-3 lead. During the run, Le’au registered a kill and back-to-back aces to help Georgia to its lead. LSU clawed back to within two at 9-7, forcing Georgia to use a timeout. Following the break, Georgia put up two-straight blocks that gave it an 11-7 lead. Two more blocks and an attack error by the Tigers gave Georgia match point at 14-8. Two possessions later, Le’au put down a kill that sealed the 15-9 set five win and the 3-2 match win.

    Georgia gets back in action on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 2 p.m., when it faces the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station, Texas.

    No. 3 Gator Volleyball Opens SEC Action with Sweep of Mississippi State

    STARKVILLE, Miss. - The No. 3 Florida volleyball team opened Southeastern Conference play with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-11) sweep of Mississippi State Friday evening at the Newell-Grissom Building.

    Florida was led by sophomore outside hitters Gabby Mallette and Živa Recek, who both turned in double-digit kills against MSU. Mallette led all hitters with a match-high 11 kills, while Recek tallied 10 kills to go along with nine digs for a near-double-double.

    Quick Hits:

    *         Junior libero Taylor Unroe scooped 17 digs against the Bulldogs, continuing her 23-match double-digit dig streak dating back to Nov. 4, 2012. Unroe hasn't registered a reception error in the last eight matches. The Gator junior was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for her performances against No. 17 FSU, Marquette and Milwaukee.

    *         Senior middle blocker Chloe Mann turned in her fifth errorless match of the season, hitting .538 with seven kills against Mississippi State. Mann is hitting .465 for her career, as she is the NCAA active leader in the category and sits just behind NCAA record holder in career hitting percentage, Penn State's Arielle Wilson (.468).

    *         Senior setter Taylor Brauneis dished out 36 assists for the Orange and Blue, coupling that tally with 11 digs for her sixth double-double of her career and third of the season. Brauneis set Florida to a .330 hitting percentage, the 10th time the Gators have hit above .300 in 2013.

    *         Florida is now 43-0 all-time against Mississippi State and the Gators haven't dropped a set to the Bulldogs since 2009.