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    SEC Volleyball Roundup: Sunday, September 29

    SUNDAY VOLEYBALL RESULTS
    Arkansas 3, Mississippi State 0
    Kentucky 3, Alabama 1
    South Carolina 3, Tennessee 1
    Florida 3, Ole Miss 0
    Texas A&M 3, Georgia 0

     

    Razorbacks Cap SEC-Opening Weekend With Sweep

    STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The University of Arkansas volleyball team posted its second sweep of the weekend Sunday afternoon, knocking off Mississippi State in three sets (27-25, 25-21, 25-20) at the Newell-Grissom Building in Starkville, Miss. With the win, the Razorbacks improve to 9-4 overall and 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play. Arkansas is 2-0 in conference play for the first time since the 2003 season.

    Junior Meredith Hays led all players with 14 kills and completed her third double-double of the season with 15 digs, tying her season high in that stat category. Senior Hayley Koop was right behind her teammate with 13 kills, posting a .400 hitting percentage in the process. Defensively, the Razorbacks were paced at the net by six total blocks from freshman Breana Jones. Arkansas held Mississippi State (9-7, 0-2 SEC) to a .038 hitting percentage in the final two sets.

    In the opening set, the Razorbacks trailed by as many as seven points but used a 9-0 run to erase a six-point deficit and take a 20-18 lead behind the serve of senior Raymariely Santos. The Ponce, Puerto Rico, native served up three aces during the run of points. On the team’s second opportunity to close out the set, Koop got up for a solo block to clinch game one.

    Arkansas jumped out to an early 7-1 lead in the second set and never trailed in the game. Mississippi State got as close as three points late in the set but the Razorbacks responded by winning four of the next five points. The Bulldogs saved two sets points but sophomore Summer Morgan found the floor in transition to clinch the set and give Arkansas a 2-0 match lead.

    Down by one point in the third set, the Razorback rattled off seven-straight points to take a 21-15 lead. Koop had four kills during the stretch while Jones chipped in with two blocks. Mississippi State pulled to within two late but on its second match point, Arkansas sealed the win with a Bulldog attack error.

    With the opening weekend of conference play in the books, the Razorbacks return to Fayetteville to prepare for their midweek matchup with Missouri. As part of the ESPNU Wednesday Night Volleyball package, Arkansas will play host to Missouri Oct. 2 at Barnhill Arena with first serve scheduled for 6 p.m. (CT).

    For more information on Arkansas volleyball, follow @RazorbackVB on Twitter.





    Kentucky Rallies to Take Down the Tide

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- After dropping the opening set on the road at Alabama, the 18th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team rallied for a 3-1 (15-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-23) victory in front of 1,281 fans in Foster Auditorium on Sunday afternoon. Senior Whitney Billings logged a match-high 14 kills on .448 hitting while leading the team with six blocks and eight digs. Classmate Alexandra Morgan added eight kills on .538 hitting and six block assists in the winning effort.

    “I’m really proud of our mental toughness and effort after set one,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “Alabama is a very good team; and two of our seniors stepped up for us when we needed them the most on the road, Zan in the second set and Whitney in the last two.”

    With the victory, Kentucky improves to 10-3 on the season and is off to a 2-0 start in Southeastern Conference action. Alabama drops to 12-3 and 0-1 in league play. UK returns home Friday, Oct. 4th with a 7 p.m. ET tilt vs. Ole Miss for the SEC home opener. UK will play Tennessee on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET.

    Junior Lauren O’Conner added 11 kills on .310 hitting and a career-high six block assists. Sophomore setter Morgan Bergren chipped in with a career-high eight kills, 36 assists and six digs. Sophomore Sara Schwarzwalder added six blocks and seven kills. Freshman Anni Thomasson contributed five kills, five digs and a trio of blocks. Junior libero Jackie Napper totaled eight digs, a kill and four assists in the win.

    Alabama scored the first two points of the second set before O’Conner connected for a kill across the court. A block from the tandem of Morgan and Billings tied things at five apiece. After the teams traded points, the Tide mounted a 3-0 run to take an 11-8 edge and Skinner opted to take his first timeout. Kentucky fired back with a 4-0 run of its own highlighted by a pair of kills from O’Conner and a solo block by Bergren to take a 12-11 lead. Alabama chose to take its first timeout to suppress the Wildcat threat.

    The run didn’t end there, however, as Morgan charted an ace followed by a kill from Billings down the line. Schwarzwalder and O’Conner teamed up for a block before Alabama eventually converted a kill to end the 7-0 push by the visitors. Kentucky continued to dominate and following a kill from Bergren into the middle of the floor to make the score 21-16 in favor of UK, the home team took its final timeout. UK cruised to the finish line with Schwarzwalder plastering a kill from the frame’s winning point and a 25-19 win.

    The Blue and White struck for 16 kills on .538 hitting, while picking up its defensive effort to the tune of four blocks which limited Alabama to 12 kills on .185 hitting.

    Morgan began the scoring in the third frame with a slicing kill through the middle of the defense. It would be the first of two kills she would have as the Blue and White opened to a 3-0 lead. The Tide notched a 3-1 run to tie things at four. From there the teams would exchange points until the home team grabbed a 10-7 lead after three-consecutive aces. Billings ended the run with a kill down the line and then the UK defense forced the Tide into three-straight hitting errors to knot the score at 11.

    A block from Billings and Schwarzwalder fueled a 3-0 run by the Cats for an 18-15 lead late in the third set, and Alabama opted to use its final timeout. The Tide fought back and pulled to within two at 20-18 forcing Kentucky to burn a timeout. Out of the break, O’Conner struck for a kill to end the string of Bama points en route to another 25-19 set victory for a 2-1 lead in the match.

    The Wildcats logged 11 kills on .333 hitting, while Alabama managed 11 on a mere .034 hitting percentage. Kentucky turned back four Tide attacks and forced the home team into six additional erroneous attacks including the set-clinching point.

    Alabama scored the first two points of the fourth frame on Wildcat hitting errors, before Bergren connected for a kill to keep the defense honest. The Tide stretched its early advantage to a 5-2 margin. A kill and block from Schwarzwalder propelled UK to a tie at six apiece. Billings rifled her 10th kill of the match to give UK an 8-6 lead and Alabama opted to use an early timeout. The Tide would answer the run with one of its own to eventually claw back and tie the score at 11 apiece.

    Out of the break, O’Conner converted an overpass and the Wildcat defense forced consecutive Alabama miscues for a 14-11 lead. Another kill from Billings lifted the visitors to its largest lead of the fourth set at 17-13 and Alabama burned its final timeout. Following the break, Thomasson teamed up with Schwarzwalder for another Big Blue block. The Tide continued to fight and brought the score back to within two at 21-19, and Skinner chose to take his final timeout to settle his squad.

    Following the timeout, Alabama registered its seventh ace of the night to inch closer at 21-20. Morgan sliced a kill off of Alabama’s high hands to break the run. Kentucky committed its 10th service error of the match to make it a one-point lead again. O’Conner and Morgan then teamed up for a rejection after a spectacular defensive effort by Thomasson to keep the play alive to make the score 23-21 in favor of UK. The Tide fired back with a kill cross court to again cut the lead to one. A kill through the hands of UK’s block knotted things at 23. O’Conner drilled a ball the Tide couldn’t handle to give the Cats match point. O’Conner won the match with her 11th kill of the night for a 25-23 fourth set win.

    Billings converted the opening point of the match with a kill, but the Tide answered with a kill of its own to knot the score. The teams swapped points to open the first set of action highlighted by a tremendous rally from both squads that was capped by a Schwarzwalder kill. Alabama took the largest lead of the early going at 8-6, but a kill from Thomasson ended the run with a cross-court kill. Alabama responded with a 4-0 run to take an 11-7 edge, forcing UK into an early timeout. The home team extended the lead to 15-8, and Skinner opted to take his second timeout of the stanza.

    The margin would be all the more the home squad would need en route to a 25-15 victory. Kentucky managed just 13 kills on .270 hitting with Morgan and Bergren both notching a trio. Alabama benefited from UK’s miscues and capitalized on a .484 hitting clip with 17 kills.

    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. For additional info on the volleyball team like Kentucky Volleyball on Facebook or follow the team on Twitter at @KentuckyVB.





    Gamecocks Claim 3-1 Win at Tennessee

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The South Carolina volleyball team picked up its first SEC win of the season on Sunday as it defeated Tennessee in four sets at Thompson-Boling Arena by the scores of 25-18, 17-25, 25-20 and 25-23.

    The win is the Gamecocks’ (9-5, 1-1 SEC) first over Tennessee since Oct. 10, 2008 and it’s their first in Knoxville since Nov. 8, 2002.

    “It was incredible,” South Carolina head coach Scott Swanson said. “Our kids played their hearts out, and we executed the game plan. We had some freshmen step up and do some really nice things. We were just consistent and didn’t make a lot of errors. Hats off to everybody. I thought everybody played really, really well.”

    A fifth set seemed to be on the horizon, as South Carolina trailed 16-11 in the fourth set. However, the Gamecocks regrouped and went on a 7-1 run that included three blocks to take an 18-17 lead. South Carolina expanded its lead to four points before Tennessee (8-7, 0-1) scrapped back and pulled to within 24-23 on a Gamecock attack error. But sophomore Darian Dozier finished off a set by sophomore Kellie McNeil for a kill to give South Carolina a 25-23 win to clinch the match.

    Blocking played a key role in South Carolina coming home with a win as it out-blocked the Lady Vols 13-8. The Gamecocks recorded seven blocks in the fourth set alone.

    “That’s key for us,” Swanson said. “If we can be physical at the net and cause teams to tip and hit at our defenders, then we can be a good fast-paced transition team. It was the key to the match in my opinion.”

    The Gamecocks also finished the match with an edge in kills (53-50), hitting percentage (.189-.158) and assists (51-48). Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin and McNeil each recorded their third double-double of the season to lead the way. Thévenin tallied 23 kills and a season-high 16 digs, while McNeil distributed 41 assists and a career-high 20 digs. A native of Eagan, Minn., McNeil also led the team with a career-high seven blocks, including two solo blocks. Freshman outside hitter Dessaa Legros contributed a career-high 12 kills, while Dozier finished with nine kills and six blocks. Freshman middle blocker Jacqy Angermiller chipped in five kills and five blocks, and junior libero Michaela Christiaansen finished with 19 digs.

    Freshman outside hitter Jamie Lea led Tennessee with 13 kills, while senior outside hitter Whitney Heeres and freshman middle Ashley Mariani contributed 12 and 10 kills, respectively. Sophomore setter Lexi Dempsey dished out 42 assists for the Lady Vols, and senior libero Ellen Mullins collected 26 digs.

    After the teams played to a 7-7 tie in the first set, the Gamecocks took control, going on a 5-1 run capped by a Thévenin kill to take a 12-8 lead. South Carolina pushed its lead to 19-10 before Tennessee went on an 8-3 run to pull to within 22-18. However, the Gamecocks scored the next three points on Thévenin kills to win the set 25-18. Thévenin finished with seven kills in the set. South Carolina hit .306 as a team while holding Tennessee to a .216 hitting percentage.

    The second set went back and forth early, playing to a 5-5 tie. Tennessee took a 6-5 lead on a South Carolina service error and never relinquished that lead. The Gamecocks remained in the set and trailed 17-16 late after Thévenin delivered her 12th kill of the match, but the Lady Vols closed out the game on an 8-1 run to even the match a 1-1. South Carolina hit .122 for the set, while Tennessee finished with a .282 hitting percentage.

    South Carolina bounced back nicely in the third set, outhitting the Lady Vols .257-.073. The teams played to a 6-6 tie early on before the Gamecocks went on an 11-5 run capped by a block by McNeil and Angermiller to take control of the set. South Carolina led by as many as eight points and didn’t allow Tennessee to pull closer than four the rest of the way, as Angermiller came through with a kill to win the set 25-20.

    Tennessee seemed to have taken momentum back as it built a 16-11 lead in the fourth set, but the Gamecocks outscored the Lady Vols 14-7 the rest of the way to close out the match. Thévenin and Legros finished the set with six and four kills, respectively, while McNeil recorded four blocks.

    The Gamecocks will return to action at home next weekend and will face Arkansas on Friday at 7 p.m. and Texas A&M on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Volleyball Competition Facility.





    No. 3 Florida Volleyball Puts on Blocking Showcase in Sweep of Ole Miss

    OXFORD, Miss. - Behind a season-high 15 blocks, the No. 3 Florida volleyball team stayed unbeaten in Southeastern Conference play with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-12) sweep of Ole Miss Sunday. Florida's 15 blocks are the most in a single match since Oct. 5, 2012 against Arkansas (16.5).

    Sophomore middle blocker Simone Antwi led the block party for the Gators with a career-high-tying seven blocks (two solo, five assists) against the Rebels. Antwi was second on the team with 12.5 points as she also slammed seven kills.

    Quick Hits:

    * Florida stuffed seven solo blocks as a team, tying for the sixth-most in a single match in program history. Seven solo stuffs are the most from the Gators since Oct. 5, 2012 at home vs. Arkansas.

    * Senior middle blocker Chloe Mann turned in her sixth errorless match of the season, hitting .583 with seven kills against Ole Miss. Mann is hitting .466 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).

    * Sophomore outside hitter Živa Recek led all players with 18.5 points against Ole Miss, The reigning National Freshman of the Year roofed four blocks against the Rebels, tying her career high (10/5/12 vs. Ark.).

    * Senior setter Taylor Brauneis dished out 32 assists for the Orange and Blue while also stuffing four blocks, tying her season high. Brauneis set Florida to a .400 hitting percentage, the 11th time the Gators have hit above .300 in 2013.

    * Junior libero Taylor Unroe has not registered a reception error in nine straight matches and tallied eight digs against the Rebels. Her double-digit dig streak came to a close Sunday at 23 straight matches, dating back to Nov. 4, 2012. The Gator junior was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for her performances against No. 17 FSU, Marquette and Milwaukee.

    * Against Ole Miss, Florida is 43-3 all-time and an undefeated 37-0 under head coach Mary Wise.

    Up Next: Florida has a split weekend as the Gators return to the Stephen C. O'Connell Center to host Texas A&M on Friday, October 4 at 7 p.m. ET on Sun Sports. Florida then travels to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 6.





    Texas A&M Sweeps Georgia in SEC Opener

    COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M opened Southeastern Conference play with an impressive 25-20, 25-17, 25-12 victory over Georgia today at Reed Arena.

    Aggie sophomore outside hitter Sierra Patrick led all players with 13 kills and completed a double-double, tying A&M senior libero Kelsey Kinley for match-high honors with 14 digs. Senior setter Allie Sawatzky posted her team leading ninth double-double of the season, dishing out 32 assists and pitching in 11 kills with no errors while hitting at a career-high .647 clip. The 6-2 lefty came within two digs of posting her second consecutive and fourth overall triple-double of the season.

    Sawatzky directed the A&M offense to a .333 hitting percentage, marking the team’s highest hitting percentage since hitting .338 in the season opener against South Dakota State. Meanwhile, Georgia, which entered the contest hitting .263 for the season, was held to a season-low .083 hitting percentage as Aggie redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers recorded nine blocks. Patrick added a career-high five blocks to help A&M outblock the Bulldogs, 12-7.

    The Aggies appeared to be pulling away in the opening set after reeling off five unanswered points to build an 11-5 lead. The Bulldogs, however, began to chip away and eventually took their first lead at 18-17 following an A&M attack error. The teams traded sideouts before Babers and Patrick rejected a Georgia attack to put the Aggies ahead, 20-19. Patrick continued to score for the Aggies, getting three kills and a solo block as A&M extended its lead to 23-20. Georgia hit into the net on the ensuing play to put the Aggies at set point, and Patrick followed with a kill down the line, giving her seven kills for the set and giving the Aggies a 1-0 lead in the match.

    Georgia held an 8-5 lead in the second set before a kill by A&M’s Angela Lowak began a 4-0 run that put the Aggies ahead, 9-8. Georgia managed to tie the score at 9- and 11-all before Patrick powered a kill through the Bulldog block, sparking a 4-0 run that gave the Aggies a 19-12 lead. Georgia ended the rally with a kill, but Patrick countered with thundering kill that marked the beginning of a 6-1 run that gave the Aggies a commanding 21-13 lead. Georgia twice got within six points, the last coming at 22-16. The Bulldogs then hit wide and Sawatzky notched a kill to put the Aggies at set point, 24-16. Georgia, which was outhit .235 to -.029 in the set, stayed alive as A&M served into the net, but Aggie sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan posted a kill to close out the set and give the Aggies a 2-0 lead in the match.

    Georgia scored the first point of the third set, but it would be the Bulldogs’ only lead. Kills by Sullivan and Patrick bookended a Georgia attack error and gave the Aggies a 3-1 lead. The Bulldogs twice got within a point before A&M went on a 7-2 run that put the Aggies ahead, 11-5. A&M, which outhit the Bulldogs, .560 to .192 in the frame, continued to widen the gap and built a 21-11 advantage following a 3-0 rally. Georgia’s Tirah Le’au then posted her team-leading seventh kill of the match before a Sawatzky kill and an ace by Mariah Agre put A&M up, 23-12. Sullivan doubled up the score and put the Aggies at match point with a kill and then closed out the match by putting down a Georgia overpass for her fifth kill of the set.

    A&M improved to 9-3 overall and 2-0 in all-time SEC openers. Georgia, which had won seven of its last eight matches and entered the contest riding a three-match win streak, falls to 11-3 overall and 1-1 in SEC play. It also marked the Bulldogs’ fourth consecutive loss when playing the Aggies, who improved to 9-3 in the all-time series between the two teams.

    The Aggies hit the road next weekend for a pair of SEC matches, taking on third-ranked and defending SEC champion Florida, Friday, Oct. 4 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla., and South Carolina on Sunday, Oct. 6 at the Volleyball Competition Center in Columbia, S.C. First serve against the Gators, who were picked to repeat as SEC champions, is at 6 p.m. (CT), and the match will be televised live by Sun Sports. The match against the Gamecocks is slated for a 12:30 (CT) start.

    Visit AggieAthletics.com for more information on Texas A&M volleyball. Aggie fans also can keep up to date with the A&M volleyball team on Facebook and on Twitter by following @AggieVolleyball.