Wildcats Secure Fourth-Consecutive 20-Win Season
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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The 17th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team earned a 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 25-13) sweep of instate foe Morehead State on Monday to give the Wildcats their fourth-consecutive 20-win season. Kentucky has eclipsed the 20-win plateau in seven of the last eight seasons under the direction of 10th-year head coach Craig Skinner.
The Wildcats (20-4) logged 43 kills with a .449 hitting percentage, UK's highest since hitting .522 in a win at Lipscomb last season. Kentucky's offensive attack was bolstered by a .619 percentage in the final set as UK committed zero errors in the frame.
"For us to be able to do that [offensively] and sustain it through three sets I think is good," Skinner said. "If set one goes a different direction, it's a whole different ballgame. I'm proud of the way we finished."
UK returns to action with a pair of home Southeastern Conference matches this weekend. Kentucky hosts Georgia on Friday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. ET, before welcoming Missouri to Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, Nov. 9 at Noon ET. That match will air live on the SEC Network.
Senior Lauren O'Conner, the reigning SEC Player of the Week, led the Wildcats with 11 kills on a career-high .611 attacking clip. The Taylor Mill native did not commit a hitting error in the match and had four kills on five attempts for a .800 hitting clip in the third set.
"She's just a veteran leader," Skinner said of O'Conner. She's confident hitting any shot. She's just really proving herself right now as a true L-1, someone that can carry the offensive load when you need it, which relieves some stress off your setter and also relieves some stress of your other hitters. She's playing well and playing with a lot of confidence."Darian Mack had a career-best eight kills on a .400 attacking clip and added a match-high and career-high four blocks. Junior Sara Schwarzwalder had five kills, while freshman Kaz Brown chipped in with three. Senior libero Jackie Napper had a team-high 13 digs, while sophomore Anni Thomasson added 10 scoops.
UK opened the match on a 5-1 run which was highlighted by a pair of blocks and two kills from O'Conner. The Eagles eventually clawed back and tied the score at 13 apiece before Mack tooled the block and gave UK the lead once again. A miscue by Morehead State gave the Wildcats a two-point edge at the media break. A kill from Brown followed by an Eagles errant attack gave UK a three-point cushion at 20-17. Workman came up with a kill and then Mack and Schwarzwalder teamed up for a block to lift UK to a 22-18 lead it would not relinquish. Kentucky claimed the opening set by a 25-20 score with the Eagles committing their seventh hitting error of the set for Kentucky's winning point.
The Wildcats logged 14 kills on .290 hitting. O'Conner and Workman both had four kills each. Bergren dished out 13 assists and Napper picked up five digs. Morehead State was limited to 12 kills on a .147 attacking clip. Kentucky was also aided by three blocks in the set.
Bergren earned the second set's first score. The point by UK's setter was the start of a 6-0 start to the frame for the home team. O'Conner's cross-court kill was the sixth-straight point and Morehead opted for a timeout. The lead stretched to as many as seven at 9-2 in the early going. UK earned its largest lead of nine at 14-5 following a Workman kill. The Eagles opted for their final timeout of the stanza trailing by 10 at 19-9. Kentucky scored five of the final six points of the set to earn a 25-13 win in the second set to take a 2-0 lead into the locker room.
UK posted 16 kills on a blistering .500 attacking clip. Eight different Kentucky players tallied at least one kill in the set with Workman, O'Conner and Mack all contributing three apiece. Bergren dished out 11 more assists, and Thomasson led the defensive effort with four digs. The Eagles logged just seven hammers on a mere .040 percentage.
Kentucky raced out to a 6-0 lead to open the third frame. It featured three kills by the Wildcats and a block from the team of O'Conner and Franklin. Morehead State burned its first timeout with UK on a roll. Kentucky stretched the advantage to 7-0 following the timeout. An ace from Franklin gave the Blue and White a 12-4 edge midway through the set. Kentucky rolled to a 25-13 with the clinching point coming on a block by Mack and junior Kayla Tronick.
Kentucky did not commit a single error in 21 attempts while laying down 13 kills on a .619 attacking clip in the final set. Morehead State had just eight kills on a .077 clip.Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the Kentucky volleyball team and all 22 varsity sports. For additional info on the volleyball team like Kentucky Volleyball on Facebook or follow the team on Twitter at @KentuckyVB.