By Paul Monnin
In the first of their three matches in this weekend’s Baymont Invitational, the Bobcats lost in four sets to 10th-ranked Kentucky on Friday night before 3,318 fans at the Convocation Center in Athens. The loss puts the Bobcat volleyball squad at 0-4 for the season, a start that carries strong implications for the young team.
After falling in the first two sets (25-16, 25-21), the Bobcats came out with abundant energy after the break, taking the third (21-25) before falling in a hard-fought fourth set (25-21). Leading the way for the Bobcats were three sophomores, outside hitters Kelly Lamberti and Chelsea Bilger and middle blocker Serena Warner.
“We just need to get better,” said Lamberti following the loss. “There were times of great play during that match, and we know that we can be that good all the time. It’s just being consistent now.”
Lamberti led the team with 18 kills, but they were not enough for the Bobcats against the Wildcats, who clawed back after falling behind early in the second set and finished strong in the fourth. The Wildcats outside hitters played aggressively and efficiently, with junior Whitney Billings and sophomore Lauren O’Conner combining for 28 kills and just six errors.
The Bobcats will have to bounce back quickly from the loss, as they match up with West Carolina at 3 p.m. on Saturday and face 17th-ranked Oregon on Sunday at 11 a.m. as the Baymont Invitational rolls on.