No. 23 Kentucky Earns Another Sweep, Takes Down Arkansas 3-0
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 23rd-ranked Kentucky volleyball team earned its third-straight sweep after taking down Arkansas in a 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-17) victory. UK has won 11-straight matches and has dropped just two sets during that span.
The win pushes Kentucky’s record to 14-4 overall and 7-0 in Southeastern Conference play. Arkansas drops to 3-15 on the year and 1-5 in league action.
“Our balance is critical from offense to defense,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “If our offense isn’t clicking like tonight, then our defense needs to score some points for us. I’m very pleased that we found ways to score, which had to be with our serve and blocking in our last two sets.”
Kentucky held Arkansas to a .034 attacking clip while allowing just 31 kills. Three players – freshman Leah Edmond, sophomore Olivia Dailey and junior Ashley Dusek – all posted double-digit digs during the three-set contest. Dusek led the way with 15, while Dailey and Edmond each produced 11.
“Defensively I liked our execution,” Skinner said. “To hold a team to a very low hitting percentage in this league is tough to do. We weren’t crisp offensively, but I have to give it to our upperclassmen for really being the difference as the match went on.”
Dailey continued her top form with a double-double, the first of her career. The three-time SEC setter of the week had 33 assists to go with her 11 digs. Dailey has registered 30 assists or more in 10-consecutive matches.
Kentucky had 10.0 team blocks, with junior Kaz Brown producing a team-high seven, including one solo block. Juniors Darian Mack and Emily Franklin followed with three blocks each.
On offense, Brown was the most efficient Wildcat, hitting at a .529 attacking clip with a team-best nine kills. Franklin hit at .429 while picking up eight kills and has now hit above .350 in five-straight contests.
Serving continued to play a major role in the Kentucky offense. UK registered five aces in the contest, with Edmond leading the way with two. Sophomore McKenzie Watson, Dusek and Dailey all registered a service ace as well.
After Arkansas picked up the match’s first point, Edmond kept finding ways to answer with the first three Kentucky points. After a 9-1 run, capped by back-to-back service aces from Edmond, the UK lead expanded to 12-4. The Kentucky advantage was 15-6 before Arkansas rattled off eight-straight points to cut the UK lead to 15-14. A service error from Reagan Robinson helped get UK back on track. After trading points, Kentucky went on a 3-0 run thanks to two attacking errors that forced an Arkansas timeout. The run was all UK needed and Anni Thomasson picked up a kill to give UK the set 25-20. The Wildcats held the Razorbacks to a .023 attacking clip and just eight kills in the frame.
Arkansas started set two with its largest lead of the night at 6-3. A 3-0 Kentucky run, all on attacking errors, allowed Kentucky to tie the set at 6-6. UK pulled away from Arkansas with a 6-0 run. Another stretch of UK points gave Kentucky a 16-8 lead. It was a back-and-forth battle until the end of the set, which was finished by a Franklin kill to hand UK a set two win, 25-19. Kentucky limited the Arkansas offense again after the Razorbacks hit at a .000 percentage.
The final stanza was all Wildcats. Arkansas found a 3-1 lead early, but Kentucky pulled the frame to 3-3 with a Thomasson kill and never looked back. The Razorbacks were within three at 11-8, but a Mack kill capped a 4-0 run to expand the lead to 15-8. After some back-and-forth play, Harper Hempel picked up a service ace to give UK a 20-12 advantage. Franklin earned the match point and Kentucky took set three, 25-17. Arkansas logged 13 kills during the frame on a .079 hitting percentage. UK had six blocks in the final set, including four from Brown.
BY THE NUMBERS
11 – Straight wins for the Wildcats
7 – Consecutive conference wins for Kentucky
4 – For the fourth time in five matches, Emily Franklin hit above .400