The 15th-ranked Kentucky Volleyball defeated Cleveland State 3-0 on Friday afternoon, kicking off the Bluegrass Battle.
The Cats continued their solid start to the 2019 campaign, picking up their fifth win on the season. UK is now 5-2 overall as they’re in the midst of a five-game home stretch in Memorial Coliseum.
In the opening set for UK, there seemed to be a few home-game jitters. Kentucky came out flat, keeping the set tied at 10 a piece. The back-and-forth set was sloppy. Kentucky had six unforced errors, resulting in a CSU point every time. That total, over a third of CSU’s points, was a huge emphasis in the timeout huddle for head coach Craig Skinner.
Kentucky utilized the Viking block, receiving eight points. Senior outside hitter Leah Edmond led the offensive charge, with 10 kills in the set. Once Kentucky found its groove, they never looked back.
Kentucky 25, Cleveland State 17
UK leads 1-0
In the second set, the story was similar to the first set. Kentucky started out slow and gave CSU a lead, due to being out of system offensively. However, the UK offense came to life when sophomore Alli Stumler and graduate transfer Leah Meyer heated up, to complete the offensive attack.
Kentucky had 15 kills in the set, proving the offensive dominance. In yet another set, the defense was solid and kept Kentucky plays alive. When junior setter Madison Lilley got a solo block followed by a huge kill, Kentucky knew to seize the momentum and put the Vikings away. The crowd was loud and cheered their way to putting the Cats up 2-0.
Kentucky 25, Cleveland State 19
UK leads 2-0
In the third set, Kentucky looked like a top-20 team. All aspects of their game were complete. The defense made diving plays, the offense got explosive kills, the team responded well when they were out-of-system, as well as the team communicated on a level that hasn’t been present the two previous tournaments this season.
Freshman opposite Azhani Tealer had six kills in her first collegiate start, making an immediate impact in her short time in the blue and the white. She helped keep the Cats maintain pressure on CSU throughout the set, by spreading out the Viking block.
The Kentucky defense was dominant, holding CSU to nine points. Due to the lead, thirteen Wildcats played. This is very important considering that two matches remain over the course of twenty-six hours for UK.
Kentucky 25, Cleveland State 9
UK Wins 3-0
The Cats return to action tonight at 8:30pm against FGCU. In Game 4 of the Bluegrass Battle, Kentucky faces a hot FGCU team that is coming off of a 3-0 loss to Indiana. Come and check out UK at Memorial all throughout the season, because this is a fun team that you won’t want to miss.