Gamecocks Fall at No. 24 Kentucky in Three Sets|
Oct. 28, 2011
by Koby Padgett
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Despite a strong 10 kills from freshman outside hitter Bethanie Thomas, South Carolina (11-11, 2-10 SEC) could not overcome No. 24 Kentucky (20-4, 11-2 SEC), as the Wildcats swept to a win, 25-17, 25-17, 25-20, on Friday night in Memorial Coliseum.
Thomas finished the night one swing shy of tying her career high while tallying her 10 kills. Junior setter Taylor Bruns compiled her 10th double-double of the year with 28 assists and 11 digs, and sophomore libero Paige Wheeler added 14 digs. Ashley Frazier led Kentucky with 14 kills, while Stephanie Klefot and Jessi Greenberg posted 18 and 17 digs, respectively.
The Wildcats took the first set, 25-17, behind their balanced offense. All five Wildcat hitters recorded at least three kills, with three posting four. A four-point run early, powered by two Frazier kills, pushed Kentucky out in front, 7-4, and the Gamecocks would not draw any closer than three the rest of the frame. Another four-point stand later made it 21-13, while Becky Pavan's cross shot ended it at 25-17. Thomas recorded five kills in the frame for South Carolina.
Kentucky started the second set strong and held on for the 25-17 win. Frazier powered the early run with four kills in five points to put the Wildcats up 10-4. The lead grew to nine before South Carolina clawed back. A four-point stand capped by a block from redshirt freshman outside hitter Cara Howley and sophomore middle blocker Megan Kent forced a Kentucky timeout at 18-13. But the Wildcats closed with a 5-2 run to take the frame. Frazier posted five kills, while Lauren O'Conner added four for the Wildcats. Greenberg had 11 digs in the second set alone for Kentucky.
In a tight battle, Kentucky claimed the third set, 25-20, to sweep the match. The teams traded long runs in the middle, with South Carolina's five-point stand giving it a 17-15 advantage. A block from Howley and Kent closed that run, but Kentucky responded by taking 10 of the final 13 points to win the set and match. Frazier posted five kills and an ace in the final frame to lead the Wildcats.
The Wildcats won most of the stat categories, including a 7-1 advantage in aces. The teams tied with four blocks each. Kent and Howley combined for 14 kills without an error for the Gamecocks.
South Carolina takes on No. 20 Tennessee on Sunday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena. First serve is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.