|UK had three players in double-figures, Thomasson with 21 digs
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 12th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 (25-21, 25-15, 24-26, 25-9, 16-14) five-set loss to LSU on Sunday in front of 1,668 fans in Memorial Coliseum. The loss snapped an 11-match winning streak for the Wildcats.
“Credit LSU for being aggressive in sets three and four,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “We had to claw our way back in set five and gave ourselves a chance to win, but didn’t capitalize. Our intensity and aggressiveness in sets three and four wasn’t where it needs to be against a very good LSU team. We’re going to have to find out how to get that back in practice this week.
“Our floor defense was not where it needed to be against their pin hitters,” Skinner said. “There were too many points on their opportunities.”
UK falls to 17-3 on the season and 7-1 against Southeastern Conference foes. LSU improves to 10-7 overall and 5-3 against league opponents while extending its winning-streak to five matches. Kentucky will be on the road for both matches next weekend with dates at Arkansas (Oct. 24) and No. 20 Texas A&M (Oct. 26). The match vs. the Aggies is set for a live broadcast on the SEC Network at Noon ET.
Three Wildcats reached double-figures in the kills column with senior Lauren O’Conner earning 15 kills and added four blocks. Junior Shelby Workman added 13 with nine digs. Sophomore Anni Thomasson had 10 kills and 21 digs and has now logged 20 or more digs in a home match vs. the Tigers in every season of her career.
Junior setter Morgan Bergren logged 50 assists, six kills, seven digs and a team-high six blocks. Freshman Kaz Brown added eight kills on a .500 hitting clip with five blocks. Junior Sara Schwarzwalder added seven kills.
Senior Jackie Napper posted 16 digs, while sophomore Kelsey Wolf had nine and freshman Ashley Dusek with a career-high eight.
In the decisive fifth frame, LSU opened the scoring with two-straight kills and then capitalized on consecutive Kentucky miscues for a 4-0 advantage. Following a timeout, Thomasson scored UK’s first point of the set with a kill to end the quick start by the Tigers. Dusek saved another point with two spectacular defensive plays and Kayla Tronick came up with her first kill of the season to make the score 4-2 in favor of the visitors. LSU followed with a kill of its own to take a three-point lead once again.
Schwarzwalder teamed up with Bergren for a block and then the duo combined for a kill to bring UK within one at 6-5. Following a timeout, LSU quickly recaptured a multi-point advantage. The Tigers held an 8-5 lead into the switching of benches.
Brown and Bergren teamed up for a block, followed by a kill from O’Conner as UK scored three of four points to pull to within one at 9-8, forcing the Tigers into a timeout. Following the timeout, the Tigers tooled the block and once again reclaimed a two-point lead.
UK’s freshman middle blocker, Brown, once again came up with a huge hammer to set a new career-best mark in that category. Kentucky’s defense forced the Tigers into an erroneous attack to tie the score at 10 apiece.
The teams swapped points until LSU was able to capture a two-point lead yet again with a block at 13-11. Following a timeout Workman came up with a kill off the block, but LSU earned match point with a kill of its own. A service error saved match point for UK and Thomasson tied the match at 14 apiece with a kill.
A kill for the Tigers gave the visitors their third match point of the set. LSU pulled off the upset with a kill of UK’s block to win the final set by a 16-14 lead.
In the first set, LSU earned an early 3-0 lead to begin the match, before Schwarzwalder and Bergren teamed up for a block to score UK’s first point of the afternoon. The block ignited a 3-0 run by the Cats which was capped by a monstrous kill from Brown off of an overpass by the Tigers. LSU responded with a 3-0 spurt of its own. Another Brown kill enabled the Wildcats to tie the score at eight apiece. UK took its first lead of the match on an erroneous attack by the visitor’s at 9-8.
A back-and-forth battle ensued until a Thomasson kill lifted UK to its largest lead of the frame at 15-12 entering the media timeout. Following the break, an LSU miscue extended the UK run. Thomasson smoked one down the line to lift the Blue and White to a 19-15 lead, and the Tigers opted for a timeout. A service error by the Tigers gave UK set point at 24-20, but the visitors were able to fend off the Cats until Brown came up with the clinching-point at 25-22.
The Wildcats logged 17 kills on a .333 hitting percentage and added five blocks in the victory. Thomasson had six kills on a .667 attacking percentage, while Brown had four hammers with an .800 clip. Bergren was in on four of UK’s five rejections and Napper posted six scoops.
UK attacked up the middle with Schwarzwalder slamming one home for the 1-0 lead to begin the second stanza. The kill ignited a 4-0 start to the set, as UK benefited from a trio of LSU errors. O’Conner laced a kill cross court and UK stretched the lead to 7-2.
The Tigers got to within 9-7, but Thomasson was able to go line to end the spurt and begin a 4-0 run by the Wildcats to help the home team earn a 13-7 lead. Kentucky extended the lead to seven at 17-10 on a kill from O’Conner. It was all the more breathing room the Wildcats would need en route to a 25-15 second set, as UK scored eight of the final 13 points of the stanza including consecutive kills from Workman and Bergren to lift UK to a 2-0 lead to the locker room.
UK charted 16 kills on a .364 attacking percentage. O’Conner led the way with five kills on a blazing .833 attacking clip, while Schwarzwalder added four with a .600 percentage. Dusek led the way defensively with six digs, with Thomasson adding five.
An LSU attacking error gave UK the first point of the third set, but the Tigers would score the next four for an early 4-1 advantage. An O’Conner kill off the block quieted the LSU run. A block from Brown and O’Conner followed by consecutive LSU miscues enabled the Wildcats to take their first lead of the frame at 7-6. The 7-1 run continued for the Wildcats as the home team earned a 10-7 lead following a kill from Workman, forcing the Tigers into a timeout.
LSU fought back and pulled to within one at 11-10, but Schwarzwalder capitalized on an overpass to end the run. The Tigers wouldn’t go away, however, and eventually tied the set at 16. The teams exchanged points until UK was able to shake loose for two-straight for a 19-17 edge, but the visitors answered with a 2-0 spurt of their own to once again tie the score.
LSU recaptured the lead late in the set at 22-20 attempting to force a fourth frame. Following a timeout, UK answered with a Thomasson kill and then the Wildcats forced LSU into an error to tie the score at 22. LSU took a timeout and earned a kill for a 23-22 lead, but quickly gave the point right back to UK with a service error. O’Conner saved set point with a kill off the block, but the Tigers would score the next two to force a fourth frame following a 26-24 win.
The Tigers posted 21 kills in the frame and UK only managed 12. O’Conner led the way with four in the set. Workman had five digs to lead the defensive effort.
LSU began the fourth set by grabbing an early 4-1 lead. The lead for the visitors eventually stretched to four at 7-3. It was all the more breathing room the visitors would need en rote to a 25-9 fourth set win to force a decisive fifth frame.
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