Wildcats Sweep Virginia, 3-0
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After a tough loss to Marquette on Friday night, the Kentucky volleyball team bounced back in a big way, sweeping Virginia 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 25-18) on Saturday morning in Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky’s defense led the way, as the Wildcats racked up 16 total team blocks in the match while holding Virginia to a -.010 hitting percentage. Junior Kaz Brown led the Wildcats’ block party, with a season-high 10 block assists. But Brown certainly was not alone, as freshman Leah Edmond (six), sophomore Olivia Dailey (five) and junior Emily Franklin (four) all contributed to the cause.
“The level that we can play at is pretty significant and especially if our blocking gets involved like it did today,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “If we’re able to stifle teams offensively, I think it really allows us to compete at a high level.”
Edmond, a freshman from Lexington, led UK in kills for the seventh time in eight matches. In Saturday morning’s match, Edmond had 11 kills, while hitting .296. She added seven digs and a set a new career high with six block assists.
Brown had her best match of the young season. In addition to her season-high in blocks, the junior from Waterloo, Iowa, also had season bests in hitting percentage (.636) and kills (eight) in the victory.
Sophomore setter Olivia Dailey had a strong all-around match, with 23 assists, seven digs, five block assists and two kills. Junior Darian Mack chipped in with seven kills, while sophomore Brooke Morgan added four kills and a pair of blocks.
Junior Ashley Dusek topped double digits in the digs’ column once again with a match-high 11 digs. Sophomore McKenzie Watson and senior Anni Thomasson added five apiece.
With the win, Kentucky evened its record at 4-4 on the season while Virginia fell to 3-5. The Wildcats complete play in the Bluegrass Battle on Saturday evening, facing Saint Louis at 7:30 p.m.
Kentucky fell behind 5-3 to start the match, but the Wildcats rallied behind Brown, who led a strong Kentucky defensive effort. Brown had three kills and five block assists, while hitting .750 in the set. Brown’s blocking allowed Kentucky to turn that 5-3 deficit into an 11-5 lead. The Wildcats would eventually win the set 25-12. As a team, Kentucky hit .273 in the first set, while holding Virginia to -.176. Kentucky had two solo blocks (Franklin and Edmond) and 12 block assists in the set. Dailey had eight assists on Kentucky’s nine kills, while Dusek notched four digs in the set.
In the second set, Kentucky fell behind 5-1 before mounting a rally. The Wildcats scored eight of the set’s next 11 points to take a 9-8 lead. Kentucky then extended that lead to 13-10 behind Edmond and Mack. Edmond had five kills in the set, while Mack added four. The Wildcats also continued their outstanding blocking, with Brown, Dailey, Edmond and Franklin all contributing two block assists. Kentucky hit .333 in the set, while holding Virginia to a .032 percentage. Dailey added nine more assists, while Dusek had five digs in the set.
The third set was tied 3-3 before Kentucky mounted a 7-0 run to take a commanding lead. However, Virginia would not go away quietly, as the Cavaliers rallied to cut the lead to 16-15. But Kentucky scored four of the next five points, and eventually won the set 25-18. Edmond had four kills in the set, while Dailey had six assists, four digs and two kills.
BY THE NUMBERS
.276 – Kentucky hit .276 for the match, the third-highest total for the Wildcats this season
10 – Brown, who was third in the nation in blocking last season, had a season-best 10 block assists in the match
4 – McKenzie Watson had a career-high four service aces in the match
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