Thanks to some impressive team defense, the No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Louisville Cardinals in straight sets (25-20, 26-24, 25-11) in front of a packed house at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night. With the win, the Cats move to 8-2 on the year, while Louisville falls to 5-4.
From the outset, it was clear that the Cardinals’ main goal was to shut down UK standout Leah Edmond. And while the sophomore only logged 3 kills on the night, it was the freshman, Avery Skinner, who shined in her first Bluegrass rivalry game. Skinner recorded 15 kills while hitting .294 and attributed much of her success to Madison Lilley’s ability to get the ball in the perfect spot in order for her to be effective.
“Madison did a great job of just spreading out the offense, setting the middles a lot and then pushing it out to the outside, really leaving me an open block,” said Skinner.
On the defensive end, Ashley Dusek shined in her first full match at the libero position for the year. The senior had 16 digs on the night and directed her team efficiently on the court.
“I hear that from other people saying how they like my leadership on the court and so I guess that can be my role,” said Dusek. “I just want everyone to feel comfortable on the court around each other.”
Junior defensive specialist McKenzie Watson also had an efficient night for the Cats defensively, digging 12 balls herself.
It was the front line, however, that made all the difference for Kentucky. Junior Brooke Morgan tied a career-high with 6 blocks on the night, while Emily Franklin added seven of her own. Franklin also added nine kills for the match while hitting a blistering .571.
Head coach Craig Skinner was pleased with his team’s defensive effort throughout the match, as Kentucky held Louisville to a hitting percentage of just .092.
“You know we had a great day. It started in our walkthrough this afternoon. Energy was good, focus was good. I think they got out early but didn’t really deter what we were trying to do. Impressed with our defense tonight. Our defense came back and made a huge impact as the match went on,” said Coach Skinner.
Kentucky wraps up nonconference play at home Saturday when they take on Kennesaw State. First serve is set for 6 p.m.