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Sept. 25, 2011

Box Score | Photo Gallery media-icon-photogallery.gif

by Koby Padgett
Assistant Media Relations Director

September 25, 2011
Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Kentucky 25 25 22 25
South Carolina 21 13 25 15
Coach Swanson

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Despite 10-kill outings from outside hitters Cara Howley and Bethanie Thomas, South Carolina (9-4, 0-3 SEC) could not overcome a strong-hitting Kentucky (12-3, 3-1 SEC) team, as the Wildcats claimed a four-set victory, 25-21, 25-13, 22-25, 25-15, in front of 907 fans on Sunday afternoon at the Volleyball Competition Facility.

Kentucky hit .398 in the match, nearly doubling the Gamecocks’ .205 output. Becky Pavan topped Kentucky with 18.5 points, tallying 15 kills and six blocks. Ashley Frazier added 14 kills, while Ann Armes compiled 11 without an error to hit .647 in the match. Setter Christine Hartmann posted seven kills, two solo blocks and 48 assists to guide the Wildcats. Whitney Billings contributed seven kills and 12 digs, while the SEC’s dig leader Stephanie Klefot led all players with 15 digs.

Sophomore outside hitter Juliette Thévenin added 11 points on nine kills and two aces to join Howley and Thomas in double figures in points. Sophomore middle blocker Frankie Vain tallied eight kills as well. Sophomore libero Lindsey Craft posted 11 digs during her two sets of work.

“I thought (Kentucky) served us tougher than we served them, so we were passing high,” said Gamecock head coach Scott Swanson. “We were giving them easy balls that they were passing high to their setter, who could jump set their offense. They were running it in pretty good tempo and sometimes hitting it over us. We definitely need to step up our service game and put more pressure on these bigger teams.”

Kentucky took the first set, 25-21, behind the power of Frazier. South Carolina may not have held a lead, but the Garnet and Black held close, tying the frame on six occasions, including late at 19-19 on senior middle blocker Teresa Stenlund’s solo block. Kentucky responded with four of the next five points, stretching the advantage back to 23-20 thanks to kills from Hartmann, Lauren O’Conner and Frazier. A UK attack error gave South Carolina its final point before Frazier and Armes put down two Hartmann kills to close the frame. The freshman Thomas had five kills without an error in the set for the Gamecocks, while Frazier tallied six on 10 swings without an error.

The second set turned early to Kentucky, as the Wildcats held a 10-4 lead after long runs on O’Conner and Hartmann’s serves. Both Hartmann and Frazier posted three kills in the 8-1 UK run. South Carolina drew within three after Thomas’s kill made it 16-13, but Kentucky stood firm there. Hartmann won a ball at the net to start the Wildcats on a nine-point skein to end the set. O’Conner landed two aces in the stretch, while Pavan had three kills in the sequence, including the last two. The Wildcats hit .393 and held the Gamecocks to a .034 mark in the frame, with UK tallying four blocks in the frame.

South Carolina came back in the third with a new lineup, inserting Craft at libero and the redshirt freshman Howley at outside hitter, and got better results, taking the 25-22, set-three win. A four-point run that made it 15-10 gave the Gamecocks the advantage they needed. Both Howley and Vain had kills in that stretch. Kentucky got within one at 21-19 after taking five of six in a stretch, but the Gamecocks came back with kills by Howley and Vain again to get to set point. Frazier’s kill extended things, but a Wildcat service error closed it at 25-22. Howley posted seven of her kills in the third, while Craft posted eight digs. Vain also had four kills in the third without making an error.

A tight fourth set got away from South Carolina on Billings’ serve. Kentucky took eight-straight points in that stretch to take an 18-9 lead. Pavan and O’Conner combined for two blocks and one kill each to power the run. Billings ended the frame at 25-15 with her fourth kill of the set. Pavan also had four in the fourth, while Billings added five digs.

Kentucky also won every stat category, including a 10.0-2.0 advantage in blocks.

The Gamecocks return to action on Friday evening when they travel to Athens to face Georgia. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. EDT in the Ramsey Student Center.