Arkansas Rallies Past Kentucky

FAYETTEVILLE -- Kele Brewer had 20 kills, including three after Arkansas trailed 9-8 in the fifth game, to lead the Lady Razorbacks past Kentucky 30-23, 29-31, 25-30, 30-26, 15-11 before 613 fans in Barnhill Arena on Friday night.

Arkansas (8-10, 6-3 in the Southeastern Conference) retained its lead in the SEC West, but not without a surprising battle from the SEC East cellar-dwelling Wildcats (11-9, 2-7).

Kentucky rallied from a 14-4 deficit to within 22-19 in Game 1 before losing 30-23, then erased a 28-24 deficit to win Game 2, 31-29.

"I told our team at intermission that Kentucky would come out alive, and they did," said Arkansas coach Chris Poole. "They won the third game. That was disappointing, but at least we battled back to win."

Jennifer Haaser (15 kills) took over along with Brewer in the fifth game, with timely kills and blocks.

Afterwards, Kentucky coach Jona Braden said to Haaser, "You were awesome, as always."

Braden told the media, "I think the world of Haaser. I respect athletes."

Kentucky had some good athletes of its own, as Sarah Spinner and Amy Kaplan notched 19 kills each and Danielle Wallace had 17 kills to go with a .500 hitting percentage.

"We didn't take Kentucky lightly," Haaser said. "Tonight we did some things well, but slacked off on some other things."

The Lady'Backs won the first five points of the match easily, but soon hit a snag.

"We came out as focused as we have all year," Poole said. "But I could see us start losing it in the first game. Jessica Dorrell (12 kills, .346) played well in the first two games for us, but we were lucky at the end."

While Arkansas and Kentucky were going the limit, No. 10 Florida was rallying to beat Tennessee at Knoxville 26-30, 34-32, 30-19, 30-21 in a battle of SEC unbeatens. Both of those teams were 8-0 going in.

Arkansas next welcomes Valparaiso (18-3) at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Barnhill Arena.

The Lady'Backs had to stave off defeat in the fourth game, emerging from a 26-26 tie when Amanda Eskridge had a kill and Spinner made an error to ease the pressure on Arkansas.

Brewer's kill at 8-9 in Game 5 tied the score and Haaser's block put Arkansas ahead 10-9. After a UK timeout, Brewer had another kill and Haaser another block. At 13-11, Brewer struck again to set up match point.

Ashley Miller, who had made three errors on her new jump serve, stayed with it at 14-11 and delivered a perfect serve to help Arkansas clinch the match.

"We had more digs than Kentucky (71-67), and they're one of the best digging teams in the SEC," Poole said.

Miller led Arkansas with 29 digs, followed by Karla Crose with 14. Jenni Vasper had 23 digs for Kentucky.

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