Middle Blockers Lead Cats to Sweep of IUPUI
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Middle blockers Kaz Brown and Emily Franklin paced the 15th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team to a Saturday morning sweep, 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-21), of visiting IUPUI. Brown logged 12 kills and Franklin posted eight on a blistering .889 attacking percentage.
Kentucky improves to 2-0 on the year with win, while IUPUI drops to 1-1 overall. Both teams will return to action later this evening to complete the Bluegrass Battle. The Wildcats will take on Little Rock at 7:30 p.m. ET. The match can be viewed on SEC+ and WatchESPN here.
“I’ve been happy to see Kaz and Anni (Thomasson) step up, and when they step up our other girls have been stepping up in turn and providing offense for us,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “This tournament, with three games in two days, is pretty tough mentally, so we’ll see how we do [against Little Rock].”
Brown shined for the second-consecutive match going over 10 kills in back-to-back matches. Franklin had a season-high eight hammers and added a trio of aces. Freshman Brooke Morgan charted nine kills on a .368 clip, while Thomasson had five kills and nine digs. Senior setter Morgan Bergren dished out 40 assists and added five kills of her own. Sophomore Darian Mack contributed seven kills and eight digs. Sophomore Ashley Dusek logged eight digs and classmate Harper Hempel, making her collegiate debut, had five digs and an assist.
Morgan opened the scoring with a slicing kill to the back row. The Wildcats rattled off the match’s first seven points to take a decisive lead it would not relinquish. Franklin rattled off three aces in the spurt to lead the way. UK fended off a late charge by the Jaguars to grab set one by a 25-23 margin. Brown had five kills and Franklin contributed four in the frame. As a unit, Kentucky hit .209 and had 17 total kills.
Brown reached the double-digit plateau with her 10th hammer of the match in the middle of the second set. Hempel made her UK debut and immediately contributed four digs and an assist in the set. Brown had six kills on .857 hitting and paced the attack en route to 16 total kills. UK utilized a season-high .412 attacking clip, and was aided by an 8-1 run in the middle of the frame. UK stretched the lead from one to six take a 12-11 score and making it 18-12 in favor of the home team.
Kentucky opened the frame with a multi-scoring run for the third-consecutive set to take an early advantage that it would not yield. Morgan charted a team-high five kills in the set as the Blue and White posted 15 total kills en route to the win. Bergren dished out 12 assists and found six different attackers for at least one kill.
By the Numbers
.889 – Franklin’s career-best hitting percentage
.412 – A season-high attacking clip the Wildcats generated in set two
44 – Total team digs – three players logged eight or more
40 – Bergren dished out 40 or more assists for the 31st time in her career
5 – Five serving aces, including three from Franklin
1 – Hempel made her first career appearance and Morgan made her first career start
Kentucky’s Memorial Coliseum will play host to the NCAA Regionals Dec. 11-12. UK is one of four sites selected for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight matchups with one team advancing to the Final Four in Omaha, Neb., from the Lexington Region. This marks the third time in five seasons Memorial Coliseum will host this premier volleyball event.