2,800 attended a sweep on Halloween night in Memorial Coliseum, as #12 Kentucky beat #11 Florida 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-20). Kentucky improves to 17-4 on the season and 11-0 in the SEC.
The Cats now have a two-game lead in the SEC and are riding a 14 game win streak. This match was one of the cleanest matches of the season statistically and Kentucky was clearly in the driver’s seats for most of the match. UK returns to the court at Ole Miss on Sunday at 2:30, who have had a hard time finding their groove in SEC play.
Kentucky began the game strong and caused Florida to use a timeout before 10 points were played. Sophomore middle blocker Kendyl Paris led the set with 4 kills, but had a variety of Cats that got in on the action. Each player came up huge on defense, and libero Gabby Curry had another exceptional match.
One of the keys to victory for Kentucky needed to be the play of their middle blockers, and they delivered a dominating set. Florida couldn’t find any rhythm offensively and didn’t pass as crisp as we have seen throughout the season.
Set 1: #12 Kentucky-25, #11 Florida-15 (1-0 UK)
Kentucky picked off right where they left off, with First Team All-American junior outside hitter Leah Edmond adding 8 kills in the set. Setter Madison Lilley was exceptional, digging and setting the ball perfectly every time that she touched it. The statistic that stood out the most through two sets was that Kentucky was out-blocking Florida 5-0.
The UK defense extended rallies and dug many balls to keep the points alive, which usually ended with a Kentucky point. UF still had not found a rhythm as a team and had a majority of their points via Kentucky errors. UK could seemingly do nothing wrong and took a 2-0 lead.
Set 2: #12 Kentucky-25, #11 Florida-18 (2-0 UK)
Set 3 was another balanced offensive attack for Kentucky, with kills from Leah Edmond, Alli Stumler, and Brooke Morgan. Kentucky took a large lead and made the Gators use both of their timeouts very quickly. Setter Madison Lilley had 11 assists, and libero Gabby Curry had 9 digs. Florida went on a bit of a run near the end of the set, but UK shut the door before Florida could climb back in the match.
UF couldn’t scrap points together and looked very sloppy defensively. UK responded to their lead very well and did what they needed to do: take it one point at a time. In the end, Kentucky’s offense was too much for Florida.
Set 3: #12 Kentucky-25, #11 Florida-20 (UK Wins 3-0)
It was a great match, but both teams were without notable players. Florida was without National Player of the Year and freshman outside hitter Thayer Hall, while Kentucky was without freshman middle blocker Gabby Goddard. Both teams performed very well and will make deep runs come postseason, but Kentucky prevailed as the more balanced team this matchup.
This was the first time in eight meetings between the two that the home team has won, and proven how legit this UK team is. With seven games remaining, Kentucky is in prime position to control their own destiny for the NCAA tournament.
If you can, make it out to Memorial Coliseum in Lexington to cheer on the Cats with their remaining games so that they can host a few games of the NCAA tournament.