Behind an impressive defensive performance from its back line, the No. 15 Kentucky volleyball team held off a scrappy Florida Gulf Coast squad in four sets (30-28, 25-19, 24-26, 25-17) to grab its second win of the day.
Junior libero Gabby Curry led the way defensively, recording a match-high 20 digs to go along with four assists and a service ace. Lauren Tharp and Madison Lilley each added 13 scoops, and Leah Edmond contributed ten. The Wildcat defense held the Eagles to a hitting percentage of just .144 for the match and forced them into 25 hitting errors.
“We did a pretty good job of just making them think about where to attack,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “I think they got on a run in the third set and got some kills but we’ve got a long way to go in certain aspects.”
At the net, the Cats registered ten blocks as a team, led by Leah Meyer’s four rejections. Stumler and junior Kendyl Paris each added two respectively.
Madison Lilley once again directed the Kentucky offense to the tune of 69 kills on a .259 hitting clip. The setter dished out 55 assists to go along with her 13 digs, good for her third double-double of the season.
After having already played earlier this morning and preparing for another match tomorrow, the Wildcats utilized a balanced offensive attack to keep the Eagles guessing with six players recording seven or more terminations. Edmond led the offensive charge with 19 kills as Meyer added ten of her own. Avery Skinner contributed nine off the bench, Azhani Tealer and Stumler each recorded eight and Caitlyn Cooper registered seven.
“Coop (Cooper) came in and did a great job. Z (Tealer) came in at the beginning and absolutely crushed it,” Meyer said. “Just having the ability to have those people come in, step up, show their intensity and score some points for us is really really important for us. They did a great job tonight and they’re the reason that we won.”
Kentucky will be back in action Saturday as they conclude the Battle of the Bluegrass against the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana heads into Saturday’s match boasting a 7-2 record after having dropped just one set thus far throughout this weekend’s tournament.
With the win, the Wildcats improve to 6-2 on the year and 2-0 inside Memorial Coliseum. First serve Saturday against Indiana is set for 4 pm.