On Wednesday night, the 16th-ranked Kentucky Volleyball team defeated Tennessee, 3-1 (25-10, 25-26, 19-25, 25-12). With the win, Kentucky improves to 11-4 on the season and 5-0 in SEC play. Kentucky will return to Memorial Coliseum on Sunday at 1 PM as they take on the Ole Miss Rebels (11-8, 1-4 SEC). The win over Tennessee is the second of the 2018 season and helps keep UK be one of the two unbeaten squads in SEC play.
Kentucky began set 1 relatively slow, but took a 3-2 lead. Sophomore setter Madison Lilley led the ‘Cats to an 8-2 run, which caused Tennessee to take a timeout. Leah Edmond, Caitlyn Cooper, and Alli Stumler each had 4 or more kills for Kentucky and contributed a huge role to the blistering hitting percentage of .448. Lilley had two kills and one service ace in the set, which set the pace for the rest of the match. The nationally known UK defense was on full display on Wednesday night by keeping each point alive. Set 1 was dominated by Kentucky and quickly shut the door to any hope that Tennessee had to pull off an upset in Lexington.
#16 Kentucky-25, Tennessee-10 (UK led 1-0)
The potent Kentucky offense continued to steal the spotlight in the 2nd set, with evenly distributed kills. The charge was led by Leah Edmond, but also saw great performances by Stumler, Cooper, Morgan, and Lilley. 34 kills were recorded after just two sets, with a .552% hitting clip. Lilley continued to own the service line, by serving 2 more aces. UK had 3 aces in set 2 and continued to show elite-level offense in every aspect. The ‘Cats held the Tennessee offense to .088 hitting percentage with only 10 kills in the set. UK also out-blocked the Lady Vols 3-2 in the set. UT kept the set close, but Kentucky prevailed and took set 2 by a score of 25-16.
#16 Kentucky-25, Tennessee-16 (UK led 2-0)
Coming out of the break, Tennessee looked sharp. The 27th-ranked Volunteers took the opening point of the set and never looked back. Kentucky could not find a solid answer to UT’s offense, which led to an eye-opening set for UK. The beginning of the set was very evenly matched, until a tied 11-11 game became a 14-19 Tennessee lead. Outside hitter Leah Edmond had 5 kills in set 3, but couldn’t find continuous support. Tennessee had great ball control, sided out when they needed to, found the hole in the Kentucky defense and had a purpose to win. Kentucky fell behind and couldn’t manage a comeback quick enough. Senior middle blocker Brooke Morgan gave Tennessee their first set of the match with a Kentucky service error, as the UK set lead was cut in half. The effort by Kentucky was present in the third set, but was not executed as planned.
#16 Kentucky-19, Tennessee-25 (UK led 2-1)
Despite worries by some, UK came out strong to begin the 4th set. UK clicked on every aspect. The smoldering offense led to great defense and made the 4th set great for Kentucky. 15 kills were recorded by UK in the set, in addition to many great digs by the defense. Kentucky got on the board quick and never let Tennessee hang around. UT was forced to use both of their timeouts before 10 points had been played, which made for a fun set by UK. Brooke Morgan heated up and was a huge factor in the 18-7 advantage after a challenge was won by UK. Cooper and Paris added security kills at the end of the set to put the finishing touches on what was a dominant performance by Kentucky.
#16 Kentucky-25, Tennessee-12 (UK won 3-1)
Kentucky’s Madison Lilley had a record game, with 6 kills alongside 4 aces. The sophomore from Overland Park, Kansas was everywhere on the floor for UK and was the player of the game.
The 2,000 in attendance on Wednesday night saw a great performance in Memorial Coliseum, with much more to come. The ‘Cats are very balanced and are a serious SEC Championship contender. Be sure to catch a volleyball game if you can this season at Memorial Coliseum, because your support could mean the difference in winning a championship.