LEXINGTON, Ky. – Junior setter Stephanie Klefot extended her streak of 10 or more digs in a match, while senior Becky Pavan led the team in kills for the third time in four matches in a 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-13) Kentucky loss to Cincinnati, Tuesday in the home opener in front of 1,123 fans in Memorial Coliseum.
“We didn’t perform very well tonight,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “Cincinnati played very well, and we didn’t respond. We have to fix some serve and pass issues, and this is where we learn a lot about our team. Give credit to Cincinnati, it was a good performance by them.”
With the loss Kentucky drops to 2-2 on the season, while Cincinnati improves to 2-3 overall. Kentucky returns to action when it hosts the Kentucky Classic Sept. 2-3. Up first in the four-team round-robin tournament is Western Kentucky at 7 p.m. ET.
With a match-high 18 scoops, Klefot has now tallied 10 or more digs in 42 career matches including all four matches this year. Pavan paced the attack with seven hammers and has led the team in kills in three of the first four matches of the year. Seniors Ann Armes and Gretchen Giesler chipped in with six apiece, while junior Ashley Frazier pounded out five on the night.
Giesler and sophomore Whitney Billings led the defensive effort at the net with three blocks each. Billings had a pair of solo rejections on the night and added three aces to the Wildcat cause. The match featured 18 tie scores and nine lead changes.
UK began the opening frame by scoring the match’s first two points benefiting from a kill and an ace from the right hand of Giesler. The Bearcats tied the score at three and from there the teams swapped points back and forth. Cincinnati finally broke free for a 12-5 run midway through the set to capture the opening frame by a 25-20 margin.
The Bearcats charted 13 kills on .231 hitting compared to 13 hammers on .156 clip for the home team. Giesler came out firing in the opening frame with four kills to lead the way for Kentucky.
Kentucky built a 2-0 edge to open the second set as well after Frazier hammered home a kill and the Billings charted one of her three aces in the match. However, Cincinnati fired back to tie the score at four. The Wildcats and Bearcats again exchanged leads with the visitors eventually taking a 15-14 edge and never looked back.
A kill from Pavan opened the scoring in the third set, but Cincinnati benefited from 11 attacking errors in the stanza by the Wildcats to surge ahead for the final 25-12 clinching set win.
The last time the Wildcats lost a home opener was in 2002 in a 3-1 loss to Alabama. Kentucky had captured a win in eight consecutive years.
Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 9-10. UK is one of four sites selected for Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas, from the Lexington Region. Tickets are on sale now through the UK Ticket Office.