Friday, September 24, 2004
» Box Score
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Alabama volleyball team took the road in the Southeastern Conference and kept up their winning ways by handing the Kentucky Wildcats a 3-2 loss (30-24, 30-26, 26-30, 24-30, 15-8) on Friday night in a match that went down to the wire.
The Crimson Tide, who improved to 11-1 overall and 2-0 in the SEC, seemed to be headed for a sweep over UK after taking the first two games of the match. However, Kentucky (9-3, 0-1 SEC) had different plans as the Wildcats forced the match forced the game to a deciding fifth game. The loss snapped a seven-match win streak for UK while Bama extended its current streak of victories to three. The win also marked the Tide’s sixth consecutive victory over the ‘Cats.
“This was one thrilling college volleyball match,” said UA head coach Judy Green. “It is always a great feeling to get a win on the road in the SEC. Our team played a very controlled and mature match tonight. I am very proud of how they responded in the fifth game. I thought our defense was the difference down the stretch.”
Senior All-American candidate Erin Heffner continued her amazing play finishing with 25 kills and 15 digs for her seventh double-double of the year. Heffner has reached double digit kills in every match this season and tonight marked her eighth time recording over 20 in a match this year.
Despite hitting a disappointing .138 as a team for the match, Alabama’s defense made up the difference boasting a quartet of players with double-digit digs led by Jessica Yearout with 19. Kelley Potter added 17 digs to go along with her 14 kills while Kory Tull posted 16 digs. Sophomore Rachael Green led the Tide blockers with four and also finished with 10 kills on the night. In the fifth game, UA’s defense forced Kentucky into a match-low –.143 hitting performance.
Kentucky jumped out of the gates early in their SEC opener taking an 8-1 lead over the Tide in game one. Alabama would battle back and eventually gain the lead themselves following a 12-1 run of their own midway through the frame. UA made the comeback complete taking the first game, 30-24.
The two teams fought back-and-forth at the beginning of game two, before UA was able to gain an 18-11 advantage. This time the Wildcats clawed their way back into the contest pulling to within two points several times, but could get no closer as Bama earned the 30-26 win.
Game three turned into a sideout contest as Alabama and Kentucky swapped the lead with no team edging in front by more than two points at any time. With the score knotted at 19, UK broke things open with six straight points and closed out the stanza for the 30-26 decision.
With the momentum of a win, Kentucky grabbed a quick 8-2 lead in the fourth game. Alabama settled down and raced back to even the score at eight. The Wildcats kept the pressure on as they slowly opened a wider and wider margin, eventually leading by as much as seven points. UK won the game 30-24 and pushed the match to a final game.
Again Kentucky took the lead early, owning a 5-2 advantage, but Alabama raised the stakes scoring eight of the next 10 points to take a lead they would not surrender. After one more point by the ‘Cats, the Tide closed out the match by scoring the final five points for the 15-8 win. In the frame, UA posted four blocks and eight digs.
Kentucky had a pair of players record 19 kills in the match as Amy Kaplan and Danielle Wallace shared team-high honors. Kaplan paced the UK offense with a .455 hitting peformance against the Tide. Reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Jenni Casper topped the Kentucky defense with 18 digs and was joined by four of her teammates in double digits. Kaplan also recorded a match-leading seven blocks on the night.
Alabama’s next volleyball action comes on Tuesday night (Sept. 28) when the Tide travels to Hattiesburg, Miss., to face Southern Mississippi in the squad’s final regular season non-conference match of the year.