Wildcats Rally Falls Short in Five-Set Loss at Missouri
COLUMBIA, Mo. – The 21st-Kentucky volleyball team fended off a 2-0 deficit to force a decisive fifth frame, but would ultimately fall 3-2 (25-21, 28-26, 16-25, 22-25, 12-15) on the road at Missouri. A match between the league’s remaining two unbeaten teams was an incredible display of high-level volleyball that saw numerous lengthy rallies and exceptional play from both sides.
"I'm not happy with the outcome and Missouri made a few more plays," head coach Craig Skinner said. "I'm proud of the fight in our team to battle back and give ourselves a chance in the fifth. It's certainly a match we need to learn from to keep getting better."
The loss snapped a 13-match winning streak for the Wildcats and they fall to 16-5 overall and 9-1 in Southeastern Conference action. Missouri improves to 18-3 and 9-0 in league action. Kentucky will have a week of rest before returning to action at Alabama on Oct. 30 at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Missouri captured the winning point on the newly-instituted replay system in which UK was called for a net violation despite junior Kaz Brown and freshman Leah Edmond teaming up for a block that would have made the score 14-13. Brown entered her rotation with UK trailing 14-10 and put together back-to-back points on a block and a kill to pull UK to within two late in the frame, before the final play was overturned.
Edmond was sensational for the Cats’ offensively as she led three players in double figures with a career-best 21 kills and adding 14 digs. It’s her second-consecutive double-double and the fifth overall of her career. Junior Darian Mack had 13 kills and was in on four blocks, while Brown registered 12 hammers and a team-high six rejections.
Sophomore setter Olivia Dailey accounted for 54 assists and narrowly missed out on a double-double of her own with nine digs. Junior libero Ashley Dusek had a match-high 23 digs to lead the defensive charge. Sophomore McKenzie Watson had a career-high tying 14 digs, while senior Anni Thomasson chipped in with 12 scoops. Thomasson also added seven kills.
Sophomore Brooke Morgan had seven kills and four blocks, while junior Emily Franklin added six kills and four blocks.
Edmond from the left side exploded with a kill down the line for the match’s first point, but Mizzou would quickly retaliate with six-consecutive points to capture an early 6-1 advantage. The Wildcats opted for a timeout trailing, 8-2. The Tigers’ lead swelled to 13-5 and Kentucky took its final timeout trying to slow down the home team. Six of UK’s first 14 points came from kills from Edmond and her sixth of the early going prompted a timeout by the Tigers with UK trailing, 20-14. A block from Brown and Morgan enabled the Cats to pull to within three at 24-21, but following a timeout the Tigers managed to convert for a 25-21 opening set victory. Mizzou had 16 kills on a .324 attacking clip, while UK managed 14 hammers on a .175 clip. Edmond paced the attack with seven kills, while Dusek had four digs.
Edmond opened the scoring for the second-straight set, but this time by way of a solo rejection. Missouri responded with two quick points before Thomasson converted from the back row. From there the teams would trade points until the Wildcats scored four-straight capped by a Franklin-Dailey block for a 9-5 edge. Mizzou would pull to within 9-8, but back-to-back kills from Mack ended the threat. The Tigers would not go away and eventually tied the score at 13 apiece. A sea-sawing affair ensued and Mizzou took a 20-18 advantage. A touch shot by Thomasson followed by block from the Dailey-Brown team tied the score at 22 late in the second. After a big dig from Watson, Thomasson converted another backrow kill to give UK the edge. Dailey then gave UK a set-point with a solo rejection, but a service error gave life to the Tigers. A kill from the back row for the home team tied the score at 24 – the 10th tie score of the frame. After both teams had a chance to close out the set, Mizzou would prevail by a 28-26 score winning the final point on a block. Both teams had 16 kills in the stanza, however the Tigers won the percentage battled .152-.145.
Brown scored the first point off a quick set from Dailey. Mizzou scored the next point and once again the teams would trade points. Kentucky captured the set’s first multi-point edge on a kill from Edmond to make the score 7-5 in favor of the Cats. Morgan and Brown teamed up for a big-time block to stretch UK’s lead to 11-7, forcing the Tigers into a timeout. An ace from Dusek lifted UK to its largest lead of the set at 17-10. Out of a timeout, Mack made it an eight-point Wildcat advantage. It was all the more breathing room the Wildcats would need en route to a 25-16 victory. Kentucky had 17 kills on .375 hitting, while limiting Missouri to just 10 hammers on a .172 attacking clip.
For the first time in the match it was Mizzou scoring the first point, but UK immediately responded. After the Tigers finally shook loose for a two-point advantage, Kentucky was powered by a kill from Morgan to tie the score at six apiece. A hotly contested stanza saw Brown tie the score at 10 for the ninth time, but Mizzou would score the next three for a three-point edge forcing UK into a timeout. Down, 15-12 the Wildcats scored the next four points with Edmond posting back-to-back hammers to take a 16-15 edge. Another kill from Edmond lifted UK to a 20-17 advantage late in the frame. Brown converted a dump off the slide and the Tigers opted for their final timeout trailing the Cats, 21-18. An Edmond kill from the back row gave UK set point at 24-20, but two points from the Tigers prompted Kentucky to take a timeout. A solo block from Franklin lifted Kentucky to a 25-22 set victory to force the decisive fifth frame. Defense was the name of the game in the fourth frame as both teams hit below .100. UK had a .095 attacking clip, while Mizzou had a .091. Both teams pushed their block totals for the game to 14 and 13, respectively.
Kentucky committed a service error to open the set and then Missouri quickly took a 3-0 lead with back-to-back kills. Franklin converted off the slide for UK’s first point of the stanza. Missouri stretched the lead to 6-2 and UK chose to take a timeout. The home team would take an 8-2 advantage into the switching of sides. Back-to-back blocks enabled the Cats to pull back to within four at 10-6. Out of a timeout, Morgan was able to come up with a kill to get UK to within three. Mizzou responded by scoring the next two points to take a five-point advantage once again, this time at 12-7. A ball handling error got UK to within three again, this time at 13-10 forcing Mizzou into its final timeout. Following the break, Mizzou earned match point. Brown came in and made a big difference with a block and then a kill to pull to two at 14-12. Brown and Edmond would then team up for another block to make the score 14-13, but Mizzou would challenge that the Cats were in the net in the midst of the rally and the point was rewarded to the Tigers giving them the match.
BY THE NUMBERS
21 – Career-high total of kills for freshman Leah Edmond
14 – Career-high tying number of digs for sophomore McKenzie Watson
13 – Kills from junior Darian Mack – the most since she had 17 vs. Marquette
1 – First loss of the season for UK vs. SEC competition
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