Kentucky volleyball swept by fourth-ranked Missouri

mmaloney@herald-leader.comNovember 24, 2013 

  • Wednesday

    Florida at Kentucky

    When: 8 p.m.

Missouri showed Sunday why it is undefeated, has the nation's fourth-ranked team and already has clinched the Southeastern Conference volleyball championship.

The Tigers blitzed Kentucky 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-16), spoiling UK's Senior Day before a Memorial Coliseum crowd of 1,697.

The 16th-ranked Wildcats had won five in a row since a three-set loss at Missouri on Nov. 3.

"That team showed why they're a top five team, and we didn't play aggressive enough against them," UK Coach Craig Skinner said. "With only four missed serves, I felt like we needed to serve tougher to create some situations where we had to worry about one attacker and not three or four at a time."

UK (21-7, 13-4 SEC) will close its home schedule Wednesday night against Florida.

"Not a ton of positives today," Skinner said. "We gave ourselves some chances here and there. But you have to be able to sideout consistently against a team like Missouri, and that wasn't something we did real well. The positive is we can only play better on Wednesday against Florida."

Lisa Henning, a 6-foot senior, led Missouri (33-0, 17-0) with 17 kills. Carly Kan, a 5-9 freshman, added 15.

Whitney Billings topped UK with nine kills, eight digs and a block solo.

"It's unfortunate the way we went out, the way we lost," said the 6-2 Billings, one of four seniors honored in a pre-match ceremony. "I mean, we knew exactly what Missouri was going to do and we knew all their players — second time that we've played them. And we still didn't execute on our side."

Lauren O'Conner, a 6-5 junior, added eight kills for the Cats.

"I tried to take advantage of every opportunity I had just to keep us in the game and get the energy going," O'Conner said.

The energy never really got in rhythm for the Cats, though.

"Kentucky's a really good team," Missouri's Henning said. "They have a lot of strong points in their offense and in their defense. They're scrappy. They're hard to play against.

"I think that we just came out and took over and kind of took control of that match, and they really didn't have any kind of flow in their game."

UK's only lead in the first and third sets came at 1-0.

The Cats hung around a bit longer in the middle set, leading 11-9 on an Alexandra Morgan kill. Missouri scored the next four, including two kills by Henning, to take the lead for good.

Another Morgan kill brought UK to within 18-17, but Missouri scored five of the next six points to take control.

"They've got a good team, and we didn't play the way we know how to play," Billings said. "We didn't play Kentucky volleyball at all. I thought we kind of laid down the third game, too. We could have brought more everything to make it a better match, but we didn't."

In addition to Billings, UK honored seniors Morgan, Jessi Greenberg and Desiree Wilkerson.

"It's a great celebration of four players that made a huge impact on this program," Skinner said. "It's bittersweet to not play real well on Senior Day."


Wednesday

Florida at Kentucky

When: 8 p.m.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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