Thomasson's Double-Double, Balanced Attack Lead UK to 3-0 Win
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Led by a strong defense, a balanced offense and a double-double from sophomore Anni Thomasson, the Kentucky volleyball team recorded a 3-0 (25-10, 25-15, 25-22) win at Mississippi State Sunday.
The Wildcats (24-5, 13-3 Southeastern Conference) dominated in a 25-10 win in the first set and held the Bulldogs (7-24, 2-14 SEC) to the fewest points in a set by a UK opponent this season. After a 25-15 win in the second set, UK battled for a 25-22 win in the final frame.
I'm proud of the defensive effort and the efficiency on offense today," UK head coach Craig Skinner said. "Jackie [Napper] and Anni really did a good job of controlling the ball and controlling the tempo of what we wanted to do. Morgan [Bergren] did a nice job of managing the offense and getting a lot of people involved to contribute to our hitting efficiency."
Five of the six Wildcats to get at least 10 attack attempts recorded at least five kills as UK hit .343 with 46 kills in the match, while holding MSU to .071 hitting with 28 kills. Kentucky out-hit the Bulldogs .579 - -.080 in the first set. Defensively, Kentucky had seven blocks and 43 digs. Mississippi State had 21 attack errors in the match.
Thomasson led UK with 10 kills and 10 digs for her 13th double-double of the season. The sophomore, who hit .375, added a pair of block assists.
Freshman Kaz Brown had a season-best eight kills on .333 hitting with a team-best five blocks. Redshirt freshman Emily Franklin added six kills on .400 hitting to go along with a career-high two digs. Juniors Sara Schwarzwalder and Kayla Tronick each posted five kills, while Tronick added three blocks and two digs, both season-best totals.
Senior Jackie Napper led UK defensively with 17 of Kentucky's 43 digs. In addition to Thomasson's 10 digs, senior Lauren O'Conner and freshman Ashley Dusek added to the defensive output with four digs apiece. O'Conner also added four kills, a service ace and a block assist.
Junior Shelby Workman also added four kills, one of seven Wildcats with at least four kills in the match.
Kentucky travels to Auburn on Nov. 26 before the Wildcats return home for the regular season finale, a Senior Night contest vs. Arkansas on Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. ET.
A balanced attack gave Kentucky a 25-10 win in the first set, the Wildcats' biggest win in a set this season. A Thomasson kill gave UK an early 1-0 lead, and after MSU tied the set at 2-2, UK scored eight of the next nine, highlighted by a 6-0 run to go ahead 10-3. Highlighted by an O'Conner kill and ace, the run included three Bulldog errors. After Mississippi State stopped UK's run to make it 10-4, the Wildcats rallied off another four in a row to go ahead 14-4. The Wildcats maintained a 10-point lead until UK scored four in a row, including back-to-back kills by Bergren and Thomasson put UK ahead 22-8. After the Bulldogs scored their 10th point of the set, a kill by Tronick gave UK a 25-10 win.
UK hit .579 with 12 kills in the frame, while MSU was held to -.080 hitting with eight kills. Kentucky committed just one hitting error in the set, while Mississippi State had 10 attack errors. The Wildcats' balanced offense attack was led by Franklin, O'Conner and Thomasson, who each had two kills. Napper led UK with three digs and Brown assisted on two of UK's three blocks.
Kentucky used two runs and a strong defensive effort to claim a 25-15 win in the second set. The Wildcats and Bulldogs traded points to open the second set until, tied at 4-4, UK turned it up a notch. Kentucky went on a 6-0 run, with kills by Workman, Tronick and Brown, to lead 10-4. The UK run was stopped at six, but unlike the first set, Mississippi State would net let the Wildcats go on another extended run. An attack error cut UK's lead to four at 13-9. Kentucky's lead was three at 15-12, but back-to-back kills by O'Conner and Tronick extended the advantage to 17-12 and was the start of a 7-2 run that would give the Wildcats a 22-14 lead. Kills by Franklin and Thomasson, followed by an MSU error, gave Kentucky a 25-15 win.
Thomasson and Franklin each had four kills for the Wildcats in the second set as UK hit .300 with 16 kills as a team. Napper accounted for eight of Kentucky's 20 digs, while Thomasson had six. UK again had three blocks, with Brown recording three block assists and Thomasson two. The Wildcat defense held Mississippi State to .057 hitting with eight kills.
UK earned a hard-fought, 25-22 win in the third set. The Bulldogs opened up a 2-1 lead in the third set, but the Wildcats quickly answered with a 4-0 run, with kills by Brown and Tronick, to take a 5-2 lead. Mississippi State responded to tie the set at 5-5, but after the two teams traded points, UK scored four of the next five out of a 7-7 tie to take an 11-8 lead. MSU responded right back with a 4-1 run of their own to tie the set again, at 12-12. After a timeout, the Wildcats answered with a 3-1 run to take a 15-13 lead, thanks to a pair of kills by Thomasson. Back-to-back kills by Thomasson and Workman gave Kentucky an 18-15 lead, but again MSU came back to make it 18-17. The Wildcats scored three of the next four to take a 21-18 lead before the Bulldogs responded to tie the set at 21-21. A kill by Brown stopped the Mississippi State run, and a UK block followed by a Thomasson kill put Kentucky ahead 24-21. Brown sealed the win with a kill for a 25-22 final.
UK hit .279 in the final frame with 18 kills, led by Brown's six and Schwarzwalder's five on .571 hitting. Napper's six digs led the defensive effort as MSU hit .184 with 12 kills and five errors.
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