LINCOLN, Neb. – Despite a valiant effort by the 19th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team the Oklahoma Sooners outlasted the Wildcat attack for a 3-1 (25-20, 25-20, 17-25, 25-23) victory on Friday evening in Lincoln, Neb. Kentucky trailed 2-0 going into the locker room and forced a fourth set before falling in dramatic fashion in the final frame.
With the loss, Kentucky falls to 6-3 on the young season. Oklahoma improves to 7-3 on the year. UK will return to action on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET in a showdown with No. 1 Nebraska.
Kentucky received impressive performances from seniors Ashley Frazier and Stephanie Klefot, junior Whitney Billings and sophomore Jackie Napper in leading the comeback effort. Frazier had a season-high 18 kills. Billings logged a double-double with 13 kills and 15 digs. Klefot posted 19 digs and added a pair of assists. Napper charted a career-high 18 digs to lead the charge.
Freshman Morgan Bergren made her first career start at setter and passed out 42 assists. She had four kills, seven digs and four blocks to aid the Wildcat cause. Junior Alexandra Morgan matched a career high with 10 kills and paced the UK defensive effort with seven blocks.
Kentucky charted 54 kills in the match compared to just 41 from the Sooners. However, UK committed 38 hitting errors and Oklahoma turned in 19 blocks to provide the difference maker in the match.
In the most competitive set of the match the teams put on a spectacular display of volleyball with a number of extended rallies in the fourth set as neither team would go away quietly. Oklahoma had 11 kills in the final frame, but benefited from 12 UK attacking errors to take the match with a 25-23 final set score.
The squads exchanged points in the early portion of the set before Oklahoma shook loose for a three-point edge at 19-16. Kentucky charged back to knot the score at 21 as Napper and Frazier hooked up for a kill. The momentum shift swung back into Oklahoma’s favor when the Wildcats were charged with four attacks during a tremendous rally. UK fought off match point twice before Oklahoma finally clinched the match with its 19th block on the night.
The Sooners opened to a 6-0 in the first set and never looked back staving off every Wildcat rally. The Sooners had 11 kills on .176 hitting in the opening set, as UK managed just 12 on a .043 clip.
Kentucky came out firing on all cylinders to begin the second set. UK earned an early 7-3 lead as Morgan and sophomore Lauren O’Conner teamed up for back-to-back blocks to highlight the run. Oklahoma called an early timeout and put together a 10-3 run following the break to steal the lead. The Sooners never relinquished the advantage earning a second-straight 25-20 set victory for a 2-0 lead into the break.
UK comprised its best set of the weekend with 15 kills on .355 hitting in the third stanza. The Blue and White opened to an 8-3 advantage with Billings leading the early charge with three kills and an ace in the opening run. Despite a number of efforts to quell the Wildcat attack, Oklahoma could not keep pace as the Wildcats rolled to a 25-17 victory. Billings closed the set with a kill to force the fourth frame.