LEXINGTON, Ky. – Paced by a career-high 21-dig performance from libero Stephanie Klefot and 13 total team blocks the No. 16 Kentucky volleyball team rolled to a 3-0 (25-22, 29-27, 25-17) win over visiting Miami (OH) Friday evening at Memorial Coliseum.
Klefot led the Blue and White (2-2) in digs for the fourth time this season and eclipsed the 20-dig plateau for the third time in her career. She bested her previous career high of 20 digs she set twice during her freshman season. In helping lead the Wildcats to its first 3-0 sweep of the season, Klefot was spectacular from the back row with 21 scoops in three sets of action.
“It was a nice win tonight; it’s always nice to win 3-0,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “Miami is a disciplined team and a well coached team. You need to force them into making mistakes, and I think we did a good job of that. We continue to get better; and some individuals did some nice things today. I thought we blocked very well tonight and that needs to continue to be a strength of ours.”
Sophomore Alexandra Morgan and junior Becky Pavan each contributed five blocks en route to a team total of 13.0 rejections. Morgan has made two consecutive starts in her freshman campaign and led the team in blocking in both of UK’s victories.
Freshman Whitney Billings led the offensive output with 14 kills while chipping in a pair of aces and two block assists. Senior Lauren Rapp was next with nine hammers and three blocks to go along with five scoops.
Morgan, senior Blaire Hiler and junior Ann Armes each chipped in with five kills. Setter Christine Hartmann led the attack with 34 assists as the Wildcats totaled 12 or more kills in each stanza.
Kentucky claimed the opening set by a 25-22 score behind six opening kills from Billings. Hartmann found five different Wildcats as the Blue and White totaled 17 kills in the frame.
After trailing early in the set UK took its first lead at 10-9 behind a kill from Billings. UK then scored six of the next eight points to take its largest advantage at 16-11 after UK forced the RedHawks into an erroneous attack. Miami (OH) fought back and eventually tied the score at 17. Billings came up with a kill to answer the run and UK would never look back as the Wildcats finished the set on an 8-5 run capped by a kill from Hiler.
Miami (OH) pushed the Wildcats to the brink in the second set forcing the frame into extra points with the Wildcats eventually pulling out a 29-27 victory to take a 2-0 set advantage into the break. Kentucky took its largest advantage at 14-10 behind a kill from Hiler. Miami (OH) clawed back to knot the score at 18 apiece. The back-and-forth battle between the squads continued until Billings laid down a powerful slam to give the Wildcats a 28-27 edge. Kentucky’s defense finished out the set as the Wildcats forced the RedHawks into their 13th attacking error of the frame to win the set by a two-point margin.
Kentucky scored 12 kills in the second frame, but it was the seven rejections that proved to be the difference maker. Pavan’s four blocks led the way, while Billings tacked on five kills.
The home team jumped out to an early 2-0 edge to open the third set as Pavan laid down a kill and then forced the RedHawks into an early error. It would be all the wiggle room the Wildcats would need as the Blue and White rolled to a 25-17 third set victory. Billings ended the match in stylish fashion with her 14th kill of the night to preserve UK’s second straight victory.
Armes led the offense in the decisive frame with five kills. UK added four more blocks to help keep the RedHawks at bay. Freshman setter Elizabeth Koberstein made her first career appearance in the stanza and quickly registered an assist and a highlight-reel dig to help Billings end the match.
Kentucky returns to action with two matches on Saturday to wrap up the Kentucky Classic. UK faces South Florida at 11 a.m., and then will wrap up play against Ohio State at 7:30 Saturday evening.
Ohio State defeated South Florida 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-22) in the opening match of the Classic. The Buckeyes had two players total 10 kills in the victory.
Follow along with the Wildcats all season long at UKathletics.com.
· Stephanie Klefot had a career-high 21 digs. She has led the team in digs in every match this season.
· Elizabeth Koberstein made her first career appearance and registered an assist and a dig.
· Alexandra Morgan led the team in blocking with five combined turn-backs. It is the second straight match she has paced the team in that category.
· Whitney Billings led the team with 14 kills. It marks the third time this season she has led the team in that category, and the third time she has reached double-figures in that column.
Complete Kentucky Classic Schedule
Saturday, Sept. 4
Kentucky vs. South Florida, 11 a.m. ET
Ohio State vs. Miami (OH), 1 p.m. ET
Miami (OH) vs. South Florida, 5:30 p.m. ET
Kentucky vs. Ohio State, 7:30 p.m. ET