Improbable third-set comeback lifts UK to sweep of LSU

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Spearheaded by a 16-6 run to close out the third set the Kentucky volleyball team secured a 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-22) sweep of visiting LSU on Sunday afternoon in Memorial Coliseum. Junior Whitney Billings tallied her 23rd career double-double effort with team highs in kills (16) and digs (14) to lead the way for the Blue and White.
“I was proud by the fact that we were able to come back and make plays at the end,” said UK coach Craig Skinner. “We had a nice serving run at the end that gave us some momentum. (It’s) Something definitely to feel good about.”

With the victory the Wildcats improve to 13-8 on the season and 7-4 in Southeastern Conference action. LSU drops to 9-12 overall and 5-7 in league competition. UK returns to action with a pair of road matches next week beginning with Tennessee on Friday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. ET.

“It’s always important to respond after not getting the win you want on Friday night,” said Skinner. “LSU has been very good over the last couple of weeks, and it was important for us to jump on them early. Our blocking defense did a good job of that.”

Billings provided a dynamic showing in all phases of the match with team-high totals in kills, digs, hitting percentage (.400) and blocks (5) to lead the charge. Sophomore Lauren O’Conner notched 14 kills on .281 hitting and senior setter Christine Hartmann had a double-double of her own with 40 assists and 13 digs.

Senior Ashley Frazier logged seven kills with junior Alexandra Morgan providing six. Sophomore Jackie Napper had 13 digs with senior Stephanie Klefot totaling seven and junior Jessi Greenberg adding six.

LSU opened to a 16-9 advantage in the third set looking to prolong the match after the Wildcats had earned a 2-0 lead into the locker room. Kentucky then began an improbable 16-6 run to close out the frame to preserve the sweep. Kentucky forced the Tigers into a few miscues to begin the run, but it was accentuated by a 7-0 run to take the lead 23-20. The rally was led by strong serving from Klefot and four kills in the run. Kills from O’Conner and Billings closed out the frame and UK finished off the match with a 25-22 final set win.

UK torched the Tigers for 17 kills on .300 hitting in the final frame with Billings going for six on a .545 clip. LSU posted 13 kills on .229 hitting in the set.
Kentucky opened the match earning a 25-19 set victory. UK posted 16 kills on .238 hitting with O’Conner leading the charge with seven hammers in the opening stanza. LSU logged 13 kills on a .122 percentage. The Wildcats’ defensive effort was also impressive with 6.5 blocks in the opening set.
O’Conner opened the match with a kill, but it was the Tigers who opened to a 6-3 lead. Kentucky clawed back and tied the score at seven before eventually taking a 14-9 lead. The Blue and White put together a 5-0 run to stretch the lead to 18-11 with O’Conner notching a pair of kills in the run. LSU would get back to within three at 20-17, but UK closed out the frame on 5-2 run to finish the set with kills from Billings and O’Conner to close out the win.
UK earned a 2-0 lead into the break following a 25-18 second set victory. UK logged an impressive 17 kills on .325 hitting. Billings totaled a team-high eight kills in the run and added five digs to earn her 23rd career double-double effort. LSU managed just 10 kills on .143 hitting but out-blocked the Wildcats 2-0.
The teams traded points to begin the second stanza before UK shook loose for three straight points to take an 11-7 lead. The margin would be enough as UK did not allow the visitors any closer than two the rest of the way. LSU committed back-to-back hitting errors to close out the set with Kentucky earning the second win of the match.
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