Defense Leads to Sweep of Saint Louis


LEXINGTON, Ky. – After topping Virginia earlier in the day, the Kentucky volleyball team earned its second sweep in beating Saint Louis 3-0 (25-21, 25-13, 25-19) on Saturday evening in Memorial Coliseum in the final match of the Bluegrass Battle.

After racking up 16 total team blocks in the win over Virginia, the Kentucky defense was at its best again on Saturday night. This time, the Wildcats notched 16.5 total team blocks, while holding the Billikens to a .079 hitting percentage in the contest. Junior Kaz Brown led the blocking attack with eight total blocks, while classmate Emily Franklin added seven of her own. 

“I’m really pleased that we’re able to play at that high level with our blocking defense, holding two opponents to under .100 attacking is a pretty significant day on defense,” 12th-year head coach Craig Skinner said. “I’ve got to give credit to our middles for following the game plan and forcing attackers to do uncomfortable things. So overall I’m pleased with the effort.”

As a team, Kentucky hit .333 for the match, while committing only eight attacking errors. 

For the eighth time in nine matches, freshman Leah Edmond led UK in kills. In Saturday night’s match, Edmond had 11 kills, while hitting .375. She added 10 digs, marking her second career double-double, as well as her second of the tournament. Edmond also had six blocks in the match.

In addition to her blocking, Brown also had a big night hitting, notching six kills in 10 swings, with no errors. The junior from Waterloo, Iowa, hit .600 after hitting .636 against Virginia earlier Saturday. She was named to the Bluegrass Battle All-Tournament team for her efforts.

Franklin, a junior from Mesa, Arizona, was solid for the Wildcats as well. Franklin had five kills, hit .308, had seven total blocks, a dig and a service ace.

Sophomore setter Olivia Dailey led the UK offense again, racking up 33 assists, two block assists and a service ace. Junior Ashley Dusek led the back line defensive effort with a match-high 17 digs. Dusek added two assists in the match and joined Brown on the All-Tournament team.

Junior Darian Mack had eight kills while hitting .316 in the contest. Mack also had three total blocks and a service ace for Kentucky.

With the win, Kentucky is now 5-4 on the season while Saint Louis fell to 2-8. The Wildcats return to action on Thursday night, facing Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville. Game time is 7 p.m. ET.  

SET RECAPS

Set 1
The set was tight early, but Kentucky scored four points in a row to stretch the lead to 14-9. Franklin had a pair of block assists in the run, and Mack had a kill and a service ace during the run as well. Saint Louis rallied to tie the set at 20-20, but Kentucky scored five of the last six points to win the set 25-21. The Wildcats hit .258, led by Edmond, who had four kills on seven swings. Kentucky also had six team blocks, led by Franklin, who had one solo block and three block assists. Dailey had 10 assists in the set, while Dusek paced Kentucky with three digs.

Set 2
Kentucky raced out to an 8-3 lead in the second set behind stellar blocking by Brown, Dailey, Edmond and Franklin. Saint Louis cut the lead to 12-9, but the Wildcats scored nine of the last 11 points in the set to win easily, 25-13. Kentucky hit .389 in the frame, while holding Saint Louis to -.094. Four Kentucky players, Brown, Edmond, Mack and Brooke Morgan, each had a pair of kills in the set. Dailey had nine assists in the set, while Dusek had five digs. Kentucky had 5.5 team blocks in the set, led by Brown and Franklin, who each had two block assists.
 
Set 3
The third set started much the same as the second, with Kentucky leading 5-1 early, behind a pair of kills from Mack and an ace by Dailey. Saint Louis cut the lead to 8-6 before Kentucky recorded three blocks in a row to break the set open. Edmond was hot in the set, recording five kills, while Franklin and Mack each had four. Kentucky hit .371. Dusek had nine digs in the frame, and Dailey added 14 more assists.

BY THE NUMBERS
.333 – Kentucky hit .333 for the match, the third-highest total for the Wildcats this season
16.5 – The Wildcats had a season-high 16.5 blocks, topping the 16 they posted earlier in the day in a sweep of Virginia
2 – Freshman Leah Edmond registered her second double-double of the season with 11 kills and 10 digs.

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