uk vb3 300LEXINGTON, Ky. (10/28/13) - The No. 15 University of Kentucky volleyball team used a strong offensive effort from senior Whitney Billings and freshman Anni Thomasson to sweep Mississippi State 3-0 (25-13, 26-24, 25-21) on DanceBlue Night Friday at Memorial Coliseum.
 
The Wildcats (14-5, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) improved to 42-2 all-time against the Bulldogs (11-10, 2-5) on a night that saw UK earn set wins in lopsided, come-from-behind and tight fashions.

UK’s first-set win was one of its biggest of the season, and the Wildcats dominated in nearly every statistical category. The second frame saw Kentucky down 24-22, but it staved off set point to score the final four points to earn the win. The final set was close, but after they trailed briefly early at 2-1, the Wildcats maintained the lead.

“I liked our focus each point,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “That was a big theme of ours for tonight and our floor defense was solid making good plays defensively. We were able to kill the ball at a pretty good rate tonight and keep our errors down so definitely pleased with that.”

Billings led the way for the Wildcats with game highs of 15 kills and a .438 hitting clip, while Thomasson produced 12 kills and a .357 hitting margin. Billings also added six digs and a service ace. Senior Alexandra Morgan hit an even .400 with five kills.

Sophomore Morgan Bergren dished out 34 assists and had nine digs, while Junior Jackie Napper led the UK defensive unit with 16 digs. Sophomore Sara Schwarzwalder and junior Lauren O’Conner each added three kills and two blocks. Redshirt freshman Kelsey Wolf had eight scoops, a career high.

Kentucky returns to the court Sunday at Memorial Coliseum for a 1:30 p.m. match against Alabama. The contest, a rematch of Sept. 29th’s 3-1 UK win, will air locally on the UK IMG Network and will be rebroadcast at 4 p.m. on Fox Sports South. Dick Gabriel and Katie Eiserman will have the call.
 
The first set was tied 3-3 early, but a 9-0 run by the Wildcats quickly gave them a 12-3 lead, plenty to propel UK to a 25-13 first set win. The run from the Blue and White began with two straight kills from Billings and included three off the hand of Thomasson. Kentucky led Mississippi State in nearly every statistical category. UK had 16 kills to MSU’s six and registered a 3-0 advantage in blocks. The Wildcats’ .500 hitting clip was also higher than the Bulldogs’ .036 mark. Billings’ six kills was a set high, while Thomasson added five. O’Conner and Morgan each notched two blocks.
 
While the first set was dominated by the Wildcats, the second set featured four lead changes, 11 ties and it took an extra point for UK to earn a 26-24 win. Kentucky found itself down 3-1 early, but UK never let MSU get away, and after several opportunities to tie the set, the first tie occurred at 11-11. The Wildcats took their first lead at 14-13 but found themselves trailing 20-19 and again 24-22. UK staved off two Bulldog set points and recorded the final four points to secure the win.

Thomasson paced the Wildcats with a set-high-tying four kills and Kayla Tronick posted three. Bergren recorded a service ace in the frame along with 10 assists and one kill. MSU had a 14-13 advantage in kills, but UK’s hitting clip was better, .323 to .189.
 
The final frame was another close set, but after UK fell behind 2-1, it took a 3-2 lead, an advantage it would never give up. The set was close throughout, and the Wildcats never trailed, but their lead never grew beyond six. After a UK service error enabled MSU to get within three at 24-21, Morgan recorded a kill to clinch the win. Kentucky out-hit Mississippi State .308-.226 and had 15 kills to MSU’s 11. UK had just one block and no service aces, but held the Bulldogs to zero blocks and a single ace. Billings had a set-high seven kills, while Napper recorded six digs in the final stanza.
 
Kentucky's Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 13-14. UK is one of four sites selected for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in Seattle, Wash., from the Lexington Region. This marks the second time in three seasons Memorial Coliseum will host this premier volleyball event.
 
SurfKY News
Information provided by UK Athletics

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

Owensboro Parks and Recreation Taking Adult Kickball League Registrations

OWENSBORO, Ky. (3/31/15) — The Owensboro Parks and Recreation Department is now taking registrations for the Co-ed… Read More

Madisonville Police Reports Released - March 31, 2015

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (3/31/15) — The Madisonville Police Department released the following reports Tuesday, March 31.… Read More

Most Read This Week

March 27, 2015 5980

Three Arrested during Execution of Search…

by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
March 25, 2015 5491

Fazoli's, Roses Coming to Madisonville

by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
March 24, 2015 5213

One Dies, Another Injured in Mortons Gap Traffic…

by Deputy Heath Owens
March 25, 2015 5151

Grand Jury Finds No Criminal Wrongdoing in Bean…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
March 24, 2015 4307

UPDATE: One Injured in Hopkinsville Road Accident

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
March 30, 2015 4203

Man Charged with Child Abuse After Allegedly…

by Madisonville Police Department

Most Read This Month

March 09, 2015 13970

Multi-Agency Drug Bust Results in $1 Million Meth…

by KSP DESI
March 02, 2015 11661

Madisonville Teen Faces Numerous Drug Charges

by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center

Stories Trending Today

March 30, 2015 4203

Man Charged with Child Abuse After Allegedly…

by Madisonville Police Department
March 30, 2015 2430

Juvenile Arrested for Cruelty to Animals

by Hopkins County Sheriff's Office
March 30, 2015 2268

Man Charged for Selling Drugs from Red Cardinal…

by Madisonville Police Department
March 30, 2015 2222

Two Charged in Bremen Meth Bust

by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
March 30, 2015 2038

Report of Suspicious Man Ends with PI, Meth…

by Madisonville Police Department
March 29, 2015 1357

Huge Turnout Joins to Support Shanice Bean Family

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
March 30, 2015 1192

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - March 30,…

by Madisonville Police Department
March 31, 2015 948

Happenings and Meetings - Hopkins County

by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
March 30, 2015 913

Hopkins County Sheriff's Arrest Reports

by Hopkins County Sheriff's Office
March 30, 2015 777

Easter Cuties Pageant Raises Funds for Shanice…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News