Kentucky Looks for Eighth-Straight Win Against South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Coming off a big win over the No. 5 Florida Gators, the Kentucky volleyball team will look for its eighth-straight victory in a matchup with South Carolina on Sunday. First serve is set for 1:30 p.m. in the Carolina Volleyball Center in Columbia, South Carolina, and will air live on SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app with Derek Scott and RJ Abella on the call.
Last time out, UK defeated the nationally-ranked Gators on their home floor in a 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-23) sweep. The defense shut down Florida for an average of 10 kills per set. UK had 11 team blocks and junior Kaz Brown led the way with seven. Junior libero Ashley Dusek had a match-high 11 digs, and four players (Dusek, Leah Edmond, Olivia Dailey and McKenzie Watson) all had more than five in the contest. On the offensive side, Edmond produced 19 kills, one off her career-high.
The win, UK’s third over a ranked opponent this season, marked the first time Kentucky has taken down the Gators in back-to-back road contests since the 1987 and 1989 seasons.
Kentucky is firing on all cylinders in conference play. The Wildcats are 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference and has dropped just one set. UK is averaging 15.20 kills per set and hitting at a .263 attacking clip, while holding its opponents to 9.90 kills per frame and just a .109 hitting percentage.
Scouting the Opponent
South Carolina (13-1, 1-1): South Carolina is 1-1 in conference play. The Gamecocks lost to Missouri, 3-0, to begin the conference season and picked up its first SEC win in a five set battle over Tennessee. USC had rattled off 12-straight wins in non-conference play, only dropping six sets. Mikayla Shields leads the offense with 3.16 kills per set, while Koko Atoa-Williams follows with 97 kills of her own. Alicia Starr paces the defensive side with 1.18 blocks per frame.
Defense Stifles No. 5 Florida
Kentucky went into Gainesville and swept the No. 5 Florida Gators, 25-17, 25-18, 25-23. The defense shut down the Gators. UK had 11 team blocks, with junior Kaz Brown leading the charge with seven. Sophomore Brooke Morgan followed closely behind with six of her own.
Back-to-Back Wins in Gainesville
For the first time since the 1987 and 1989 seasons, UK has taken down Florida in back-to-back matches on its home court. Kentucky beat Florida 3-1 last season. The sweep of the Gators marked the first time Florida has been swept by UK since 1990.
Dailey Named SEC Player of the Week
Sophomore setter Olivia Dailey was named SEC player of the week for her performance against Georgia and Mississippi State. Dailey had the best week of her career in two wins over conference rivals. Dailey posted a combined 87 helpers in the two victories, including a season-best 47 in a four-set match this season. She also contributed six digs and had a career-high four aces against the Bulldogs.
Brown Earns SEC Offensive Player of the Week
Brown busted out in a big way offensively for the Cats in wins over Georgia and Mississippi State this week. The Waterloo, Iowa, native notched her first two double-digit kill efforts of the season. She posted a season-best 13 kills on a .579 attacking clip in a sweep of Georgia to begin the week. Brown added a team-best five blocks in the win. Against Mississippi State, she posted 12 kills while hitting .391, and chipped in four blocks.
Junior libero Ashley Dusek has produced double-digit dig numbers in every contest this season for the Wildcats except one. Dusek has hit 20 or more in three separate matches (Mississippi State, Marquette and Wyoming). The East Bernard, Texas native’s dig season-high is 27 against Mississippi State and she averages 4.59 digs per set.
Freshman outside hitter Leah Edmond has contributed double-digit kill totals in every contest except one this season. Edmond has produced 13 double-digit performances, including every SEC match this season. The Lexington, Kentucky, native has hit 15+ four times, including 19 in the win over No. 5 Florida.