Volleyball Cats Advance In NCAA Tourney

Reported by: Dan Rieffer
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Updated: 12/01/2012 12:17 am
The Kentucky volleyball team beat East Tennessee State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Host Cats now meet Ohio State for a trip to the Sweet 16.

From UK Athletics
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 16th-seeded Kentucky volleyball team used a potent offensive attack en route to a 3-0 (25-9, 25-17, 25-15) sweep of East Tennessee State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in front of 1,917 fans in Memorial Coliseum on Friday. Senior Ashley Frazier led the way with a match-high 12 kills on a blistering .500 hitting clip as UK struck for 39 kills on .361 hitting in the dominating victory.

With the win the Wildcats have advanced to the second round to take on Ohio State at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday. The Buckeyes secured a second round spot following a 3-0 win over Notre Dame.

“ETSU has a couple of really nice athletes, really nice attackers,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “We were able to neutralize them by serving tough and getting them out of system. I think that set the tone for the match.

“Knowing what they’re capable of, they came out in set two and did some really nice things. I was proud of the way we responded when they made a run on us. That’s important during the Tournament that you respond, and do things in retaliation to what the opponent’s going to do. Our serving, our blocking defense and digging were the difference in the match. That needs to be a mainstay for tomorrow night,” Skinner said.

The Wildcats improve to 21-10 overall following the victory, their fourth time advancing to at least the second round under Skinner. It’s also the third time in the last four seasons UK has advanced beyond the opening round. ETSU finishes its season with an impressive 23-13 overall record.

Frazier paced the dynamic attack that was spearheaded by senior setter Christine Hartmann who dished out 31 assists on the night. Hartmann added a pair of kills, three digs and two blocks to her line as well.

Freshman Kayla Tronick connected for seven kills on a team-high .545 hitting clip. Junior Whitney Billings tallied eight kills on .400 hitting and scooped up nine digs on the night. Sophomore Lauren O’Conner laid down four kills and junior Alexandra Morgan had a trio.

Morgan led the effort at the net with a match-high four blocks. She also notched a pair of aces on the night. Senior libero Stephanie Klefot picked up a match-best 10 digs with junior Jessi Greenberg logging nine and sophomore Jackie Napper providing eight to the winning cause.

Freshmen Morgan Bergren (one kill, two assists), Sara Schwarzwalder (one kill, one dig) and Shelby Workman (one kill, one block) all added to UK’s win in their first career postseason action.

Kentucky began the night with a 25-9 opening set victory. UK charted 10 kills on .409 hitting and frustrated the Bucs into seven kills on a .032 percentage. Frazier led the way with four kills.

ETSU scored the match’s opening two points before the Wildcats answered with a 7-0 run paced by the serving from the right hand of Billings. Kentucky then utilized a 15-3 run to take a commanding 21-5 advantage. The opening stanza ended on a Buccaneer service error to give the home team a 1-0 advantage in the match.

The Wildcats then secured a 2-0 lead into the break following a 25-17 second set win. Frazier and O’Conner both struck for four kills in the stanza as UK smashed 16 in the set on a .394 clip. ETSU posted nine kills using a .059 percentage.

O’Conner struck first with a kill, but ETSU fired back and the teams exchanged points back and forth with the visitors taking a 13-8 lead in the middle portion of frame forcing UK into a timeout. Consecutive kills from O’Conner and Hartmann gave the Wildcats back the lead at 15-14 and the Blue and White would not look back. Kentucky closed out the set on a 10-3 run to earn the victory. Billings and Tronick traded kills to close out the frame as UK scored the final four points.

The final set saw the Wildcats secure the sweep behind a 25-15 win. UK totaled 13 kills on a .286 clip and turned back four opponent attacks. Frazier again led the attack with four kills in the frame. ETSU had its best output of the night with 10 kills.

Kentucky’s defense forced the Bucs into an erroneous attack to begin the set, but ETSU responded with consecutive points. UK took the lead for the final time on another Buccaneer hitting error at 3-2. Kentucky capitalized on a 15-5 run to shake loose for the win. Tronick capped the match with her seventh kill of the night to bring the raucous crowd to its feet.

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