Sept. 30, 2012
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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Auburn's volleyball team gave Kentucky a tough fight on the road but dropped a four-set decision to the Wildcats, 3-1 (23-25, 25-22, 19-25, 17-25), on Sunday afternoon in front of 1,448 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
The Tigers (12-4, 3-3 SEC) gave the Wildcats (9-6, 3-2) all they could handle through two and a half sets, but a late Kentucky run in the third set gave the Wildcats momentum that the Tigers could not overcome.
Senior Sarah Bullock led Auburn with 12 kills, giving her 1,080 for her career and moving her into the all-time top 10 at Auburn, passing Jennifer Kleyn (1988-91), who had 1,070 in her career. Bullock also had eight digs and two blocks in the match. Junior libero Sarah Wroblicky was strong defensively with 22 digs, her fourth match this season with 20 or more.
Both Auburn setters recorded double-doubles. Junior Chelsea Wintzinger had 19 assists and 14 digs, and freshman Ciara Richards finished with 16 assists and 12 digs.
Junior Katherine Culwell had six kills, eight digs and four blocks, and sophomore Halle Kearney finished with a season-high eight kills, hitting .333 with just two errors.
Kentucky was led by Whitney Billings, who had a season-high 19 kills along with 15 digs. Alexandra Morgan finished with 15 kills and five blocks, and setter Christine Hartmann posted three kills, 45 assists, 12 digs and six blocks.
The Wildcats had 60 kills to Auburn's 41 and held Auburn to a season-low .108 hitting percentage. Kentucky also finished with 15 total blocks against Auburn's 10, and the Cats won the digs battle, 76-72.
Kentucky jumped out to a huge lead in the first set and looked to be on their way to a runway victory. But Auburn, trailing 23-17 late in the game, went on a 6-1 run and fought off three straight set points to cut the Wildcat lead to just one point at 24-23. However, Auburn couldn't fight off a fourth set point attempt, and the Cats took a 25-23 win. Culwell had three blocks in four rallies to aid the Auburn comeback attempt, but early struggles in the serve-receive game were too much for the Tigers to overcome.
Auburn fought back to win the second set, 25-22, on the strength of outstanding play from Bullock. The Auburn senior had eight kills on 11 attacks with no errors in the set, hitting a blistering .727 in the set. She also had four digs and a pair of solo blocks in the set. The Tigers led for most of the set before Kentucky went on a late 3-0 run to take a 20-19 lead. From there, though, Auburn would answer with a 3-0 run of its own, going ahead 23-20 on a kill from Kearney and a kill and a block from Bullock. Her eighth kill of the set would clinch the win for Auburn and tie the match at one set apiece.
The Tigers came out strong again in the third set and kept things close as neither team could gain much of an advantage through the first 30 points. But after Auburn took a 16-15 lead, the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run - three of those points coming on blocks - to move ahead 22-15 and all but end Auburn's chances. Kentucky finished the game on a 10-3 run, winning the third set 25-19 as the Cats had 18 kills and five blocks in the set.
Set four was all Kentucky from the start as the Wildcats jumped out to a 10-3 lead en route to a 25-17 win. Auburn cut the lead to as few as three points at 17-14, but Kentucky's balanced offensive attack in the fourth set proved to be the difference as five different players had at least two kills.
The Tigers will return home to continue Southeastern Conference play on Friday, Oct. 5, as Mississippi State visits the Student Activities Center for a 6:30 p.m. match. It will be Auburn's only match of the week as the Tigers have next Sunday off. Admission is free for all Auburn home volleyball matches.