Wildcats Drop Four-Set Match at Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Kentucky volleyball team lost a 3-1 (18-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-17) four-setter at Tennessee on Wednesday night to conclude the regular-season. UK finished with a record of 22-7 overall and 15-3 in the league play and will await its fate as an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. The selection show is set to air at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
The Wildcats were led by Emily Franklin who had 11 kills, three aces and three digs in the loss. Freshman Leah Edmond also registered 11 kills, while junior libero Ashley Dusek produced a match-high 22 digs and classmate Kaz Brown added nine blocks and nine kills.
Senior Anni Thomasson had four kills and eight digs, while sophomore setter Olivia Dailey dished out 35 assists and 10 digs for her fifth career double-double. Sophomore McKenzie Watson added six digs to UK’s effort.
UK opened up the match with a victory in the opening frame, but Tennessee came back to win the final three to earn the win.
Sophomore Brooke Morgan converted an overpass to score the match’s first point and the Wildcats were off to the races. UK scored the first six points, capped by an ace from Thomasson. Franklin contributed two early kills, forcing the Lady Vols into a timeout. Tennessee scored the next three before a service error snapped the mini run. Edmond’s ace gave the Wildcats their largest lead at 13-6 midway through the frame. Mack and Brown teamed up for a Big Blue Block to extend UK’s run to 5-0 for a 15-6 advantage, forcing the home team into its final timeout. Brown get the run going with a kill out of the break before a service error halted the spurt. UK maintained its advantage throughout, but UT came within five at 20-15, prompting a Kentucky timeout. Out of the timeout, Edmond laced a kill cross court. The Wildcats benefited from a Tennessee miscue to clinch the opening set 25-18. Brown led the Cats with five kills as UK registered 14 kills on a .265 clip. Tennessee was limited to 10 kills on a .091 clip.
A UT service error enabled the Cats to score the first point of the second set, followed by a Franklin ace lifted UK to an early 2-0 edge. Tennessee fought right back to tie things at three apiece. The Lady Vols were able to shake loose for a two-point advantage at 8-6. Franklin’s conversion of a quick set allowed the Cats to claw back and tie things at nine apiece, but UT fired right back and scored the next two points. The home team extended its lead to three at 14-11. An ace from Edmond highlighted a 3-0 run by the Cats, and then UK benefited from back-to-back Lady Vols’ errors to take a 16-15 lead. Tennessee fired right back with a run of its own and eventually stretched the lead to three at 20-17. It was all the more room the Lady Vols would need as they evened the match at one set apiece with a 25-18 victory. Kentucky managed just 11 kills on a .114 hitting percentage, while the Lady Vols produced 15 hammers on a .464 attacking percentage.
Tennessee was the first to score to begin the third stanza, but a service error by the home team gave the point right back. Edmond and Brown teamed up for a rejection for a 3-1 advantage in favor of UK. Brown then teamed up with Dailey for a three-point UK lead at 7-4, but the Lady Vols fired right back with a three-point swing to tie things once against at seven. The run stretched to five and the home team was able to grab a 9-7 lead. UT’s advantage swelled to 13-9, and the Cats opted for a timeout. The gap would be too much for the Wildcats to overcome as the Lady Vols earned a 25-17 win to go ahead 2-1 in the match. Tennessee utilized 14 kills in the set, while limited the Cats to just nine.
Franklin and Morgan opened up the fourth frame with a big-time block. Brown combined for a kill and a block in back-to-back points for a 3-1, UK advantage. UK held its advantage until the Lady Vols managed to tie things at four. A kill from Edmond enabled the Wildcats to take the largest lead of the set at 9-6. Tennessee continued to chip away at Kentucky’s lead and tied the score at 11 apiece, before taking the lead at 12-11. Brown fired right back with a kill off of the slide and a back-and-forth battle ensued. Edmond’s smash lifted UK to at 15-14 lead at the media timeout. Following the timeout, Tennessee scored three-straight to earn a 17-15 lead. A 6-0 run stretched the UT lead to 20-15 and UK opted to use its final timeout. Kentucky couldn’t overcome the deficit and Tennessee claimed the match behind a 25-17 win.