COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Junior Ashley Frazier led the Wildcats with the first 20-kill match of the season, and freshman Lauren O'Conner added a career-best 18 kills of her own as Kentucky defeated Dayton in five sets, 25-20, 16-25, 22-25, 25-15, 16-14, in opening-round play of the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats survived two match points before scoring the game's final four points to escape the fifth frame with a win. UK will play the Texas A&M-Lipscomb winner on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
"The worst part about that match is that somebody had to lose," Kentucky Coach Craig Skinner said. "That was a really good volleyball match, and obviously I'm extremely proud of our players for competing. We had our backs against the wall and really got out-competed there for a while, but they found a way to grind it out and get the win."
UK advances to the second round of tournament play for the third time during Skinner's tenure and the first time since 2009. UK improved to 27-5 on the season and remains a perfect 7-0 in matches that go five sets. Dayton concluded its season with a 25-7 overall record.
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Dayton opened the decisive fifth set by grabbing a 3-0 lead. The Flyers maintained that edge until junior Stephanie Klefot tied the score at 14.
Junior setter Christine Hartmann and senior middle blocker Gretchen Giesler combined for the Wildcats' ninth block of the match to put UK ahead 15-14.
Giesler followed up by swatting the match's winning point into the center of the defense for the 16-14 win.