Kentucky Volleyball defeated SEMO in straight sets (25-20, 25-15, 25-19) in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in Memorial Coliseum.
UK was led offensively by Leah Edmond and Alli Stumler, with 18 and 12 kills, respectively. Kentucky (24-6, 16-2 SEC) returns to Memorial Coliseum Saturday night to face the Michigan Wolverines at 7:00. The Maize and Blue are 21-10 on the season and 13-7 in BIG 10 play. The winner of the match will advance to the Sweet 16, which will most likely be played in Waco, Texas.
Set 1: Kentucky 25, SEMO 20
Coach Craig Skinner said that he wanted to start quick and come out hot, which is exactly what his team did. Senior outside hitter Leah Edmond led the offensive attack, with six kills. Alli Stumler had four kills and Caitlyn Cooper had two as well. The offensive game plan for Kentucky was to spread the floor, leaving many one-on-one matchups against the SEMO blockers.
Kentucky utilized the free ball plays and executed a majority of the plays. The defense came up huge, keeping numerous plays alive. Many long rallies occurred towards the end of the set, favoring the Cats. UK gained momentum and finished out the set.
Set 2: Kentucky 25, SEMO 15
Serve receive was key in the second set. SEMO was known for their tough serving, which tested the Kentucky defense. It was a back and forth set, but UK always had an offensive response to the SEMO run.
Leah Edmond and Alli Stumler continued to have huge nights, each adding five more kills in the second set. The Cats had two service aces and gained a substantial lead late in the set. SEMO didn’t find an offensive rhythm and resulted in a 2-0 lead for UK.
Set 3: Kentucky 25, SEMO 19
Kentucky put together its most complete set. Five players recorded kills for UK, which boosted their confidence. Junior libero Gabby Curry led the defense and kept rallies alive, which turned into more offensive attempts. The Cats continued to serve hard and maintained the lead throughout the entire set.
Coach Skinner was proud of the continual progression of his team throughout the game because he believed that they found their rhythm and played to their strengths by playing “Kentucky volleyball.”