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    SEC Volleyball Today: Saturday, December 7

    Saturday Volleyball RESULTS
    Kentucky 3, Duquesne 0
    Purdue 3, Missouri 1
    Washington 3, LSU 1

     

    Kentucky Opens NCAA Play with Sweep of Duquesne

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – Making its ninth-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, the 15th-seeded University of Kentucky volleyball team opened NCAA play with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-17) win over Duquesne in the first round Saturday evening in Memorial Coliseum.

    With the win, the Wildcats (22-8), improved to 15-14 overall in the NCAA Tournament and 8-8 in postseason play in the Craig Skinner era. The win marked the 10th tournament win in Lexington for the Blue and White, who hold a 10-3 record in Memorial Coliseum, a run that includes hosting five of the last six seasons.

    “It was a good 3-0 win,” Skinner said. “I was actually really happy (with) how aggressive we came out in set one. You never know how you’re going to come out, so I thought we did a nice job being aggressive. We made a couple of errors but that’s fine. We want to be aggressive and you have to play like that in the tournament. Congratulations to Duquesne on a great year. They came out with purpose to win the match and they did a nice job of forcing us to be a little bit more intelligent with some of the things we did. Our defense picked up.”

    UK, ranked 17th in the country, advances to the second round for the third consecutive season and will host No. 20 Michigan State Sunday at 4 p.m. ET in the Coliseum. The winner of the second round match will advance to next weekend’s NCAA Regionals, also hosted by Kentucky in Memorial Coliseum. The Wildcats made the Sweet 16 in 2011 and 2012 but are looking for their third straight regional visit for the first time in program history.

    The offensive attack was led by senior Whitney Billings, who had a match-high 18 kills on .406 hitting to go along with eight digs and two service aces.. Freshman Anni Thomasson also reached double digits with 12 kills and three digs, while junior libero Jackie Napper recorded 11 digs.
     
    “[Whitney Billings and Alexandra Morgan] did a really nice job of following the game plan and hitting smart shots,” Skinner said. “And, our serving was very good tonight so definitely going to compliment that and being able to limit some of the options that Duquesne had offensively. Overall, very pleased with being able to get out of Round One with a victory.”

    Senior Alexandra Morgan led the squad with five blocks to go along with three digs and six kills on .455 hitting. Sophomore Kayla Tronick tallied five kills, while junior Lauren O’Conner had four kills and a service ace. Sophomore setter Morgan Bergren dished out 43 assists. Coming off the bench, freshman Kelsey Wolf registered six digs.

    Kentucky posted 51 kills in the match and hit .337 while holding Duquesne to 32 kills on a .183 hitting clip. No DU player was able to record more than 10 kills in the match. UK tallied four service aces and 36 digs. Kentucky had a 6-3 advantage in blocks.

    UK won the opening set 25-23, but it was a back-and-forth affair for much of the frame before each team recorded two runs of at least three points to finish the set. The Dukes scored the first point of the opening set on a UK attacking error, but the Wildcats quickly responded and scored three of the next four to take a 3-2 lead. Kentucky kept the lead for four more points, but Duquesne took a 6-5 lead, which they would extend to 11-8 thanks to a 3-0 spurt. The two teams traded points before the Wildcats scored three straight of their own.

    The first set featured 13 ties, the last of which occurred at 16-all. Trailing 16-15, the Wildcats turned it up a notch and scored five points to earn a 20-16 advantage. The Dukes tallied the next three, followed by a 4-0 string by the Blue and White to set up set point at 24-19. DU would take the next four to make it a one-point match, before Billings notched her fourth kill of the set to seal the opening-frame victory.

    The Wildcats hit .308 in the stanza with 18 kills. The offensive attack was led by Billings, Morgan and Thomasson, all with four kills. Morgan’s hammers came on just five swings for a .800 hitting clip to accompany contributing three of UK’s four blocks. Bergren had 15 assists, while O’Conner produced UK’s lone service ace. Napper led the squad with five digs.

    The Wildcats quickly opened up a 1-0 lead in the second set, a lead they would never yield and turn in a 25-17 win. The Dukes tied it at 1-1, and again at 5-5, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way. Billings set the tone early with four of her five kills by the time UK had a 5-3 advantage. With the score tied at five, Kentucky tallied six consecutive points for an 11-5 lead, the largest margin of the match.

    UK never let DU get within three points, but the Wildcats could not extend their lead past six points until a 3-0 run gave them a 22-15 advantage. Duquesne scored two of the next three points, but Kentucky responded with the final two tallies for the win, courtesy of kills from Thomasson and Tronick.

    Billings led the way for the Wildcats with five kills and hit .625 in the set in addition to four digs. Kentucky notched 16 kills and hit .250, including four from Thomasson. Bergren tallied 12 assists. Morgan and Bergren each had a block assist.

    The third set once again went the way of the Wildcats by a 25-17 score, but it was close through the first 20 points. Billings once again gave UK its first point with a kill, and the lead was quickly extended to 5-2 and 9-5. The Dukes would not go down without a fight though, and rallied back to tie the third frame at nine apiece and then take a 10-9 lead. The two squads traded points before an 8-1 Kentucky run gave the Blue and White a 20-12 advantage.

    It was back-and-forth for the final 10 points before Billings closed the set like she began it, with her ninth kill of the stanza. The senior hit .538 in the frame with just two errors and added two service aces and two digs. Napper had four digs and Thomasson added four kills. In the final set, the Wildcats hit for 17 kills on a .483 hitting clip.

    Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 13-14. The regional will get underway Dec. 13, with semifinal contests at 5 and 7 p.m. ET, while the regional final will commence Dec. 14 at 4 p.m. 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. Tickets for the event are available now at UKathletics.com/tickets.
     




    No. 4 Mizzou’s Season Closes with 3-1 Loss to Purdue

    COLUMBIA, Mo. – The No. 4 Mizzou volleyball team saw its season come to a close as it fell, 3-1 (18-25, 25-23, 16-25, 25-27), in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night (Dec. 7) at the Hearnes Center. The loss dropps the Tigers to 35-1 on the year as Purdue advances to the Sweet 16 and improves to 22-11 on the season. The loss brings to a close the careers of seniors Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) and Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.), who will finish with 97 wins over their four-year career, the winningest four-year stretch in the NCAA Tournament era.

    “Obviously this hurts but I thought our kids did a great job of battling and staying with it all night,” head coach Wayne Kreklow said. “No one in that locker room should walk out with their head held low. What they accomplished this season was remarkable. They beat everyone on their schedule until tonight. In sports, sometimes it’s just not your night and that was the case tonight. I am so proud of what these kids did all year and the mark that Molly and Lisa left on this program is remarkable.”

    On Saturday, Mizzou was led by Kreklow’s 47 assists as she set the ball up to six different attackers. Henning posted 12 kills with seven digs in her final match as a Tiger, while freshman Carly Kan (Honolulu, Hawaii) added 18 kills on a team-high .471 hitting with eight digs. Junior Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) pitched in 11 kills on .269 hitting and classmate Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) added nine kills and three blocks in the loss. Junior libero Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.) added a team-high 11 digs.

    Purdue’s defense was the key to its success as it limited Mizzou to .237 hitting, its second-lowest of the season and just the sixth time in 36 matches that Mizzou failed to hit above .300. The Purdue back line pulled in 58 digs and the front line contributed 12.0 total blocks and forced 20 Tiger attack errors. The loss for Mizzou was its first of the season as the Tigers had lost just eight sets coming into the match.

    After Purdue hit .471 en route to a 25-18 set one win, the Tigers began to find a little bit of a defensive groove and forced the Boilermakers into seven attack errors in the second set. Mizzou pulled away late in the frame with a 25-23 set win and took some momentum into the locker room. Coming out of the break, Purdue regained momentum with a 25-16 set win in which it .571, while limiting Mizzou to .083 hitting. Set four was much more competitive as Mizzou rallied from down 21-18 to gain a 24-23 lead, giving Mizzou set point as it looked to extend the match to a fifth set. A kill by Purdue’s Kiki Jones tied the set at 24-24 and the Boilermakers scored three of the next four points to fend of Mizzou’s attempt to complete the comeback with a 27-25 set win.

    Mizzou will host its year-end banquet tomorrow at noon inside the Clinton Club. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouVB.
     



    LSU Volleyball Falls at Washington

    SEATTLE, Wash. – The LSU volleyball took the opening set from Pac 12 champion and No. 3 national seed Washington before the Huskies rallied for a four-set win [25-17, 18-25, 21-25, 19-25] Saturday as 3,135 fans at Alaska Airlines Arena in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

    The young Tiger team, playing with only one senior, posted one of their best efforts of the year, but could not overcome Washington, which has been ranked in the top 10 all season. LSU concludes its season at 19-13 overall, while the Huskies improved to 28-2 on the year and advance to take on No. 14 national seed Kansas in next week’s NCAA Los Angeles Regional hosted by USC.

    Cati Leak led the Tiger with 12 kills and two service aces, followed by Helen Boyle with 11 kills. Briana Holman posted a team-high six blocks, while Boyle recorded five and Desiree Elliott had four. As a team, LSU had 13 blocks, including five solo blocks, and 46 kills with a .131 hitting percentage.

    Washington’s Krista Vansant, the Pac 12 Player of the Year, led the match with 24 kills, while Husky Kaleigh Nelson had 12. Nelson and Liana Sybeldon from Washington led the match with seven blocks each as the Huskies posted 14 team blocks and 56 kills with a .178 hitting percentage.

    LSU started the match by taking the first set, 25-17. The Tigers posted 14 kills with six blocks and hit .400 while holding Washington to a .125 hitting percentage on 14 kills. After the match was tied at nine, LSU rattled off eight of the next 12 points to jump out to the 17-13 lead. The Huskies never got closer than three the rest of the way as LSU recorded the final five points to close out the set on a solo block by Holman.

    LSU has earned 190 victories sparked by five 20-win seasons to go along with seven SEC Western Division titles since 2005. The Tigers also are one of 29 programs to appear in at least seven NCAA Tournaments during the last nine seasons.

    For all of the latest news and information on Tiger volleyball, visit www.lsusports.net/volleyball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsuvolleyball along with @lsuvolleyball and @lsucoachfran on Twitter and @lsuvb on Instagram.