Heading into Friday, the No. 12 Kentucky volleyball team hadn’t lost an SEC match since November 1, 2017. But the 11-4 Georgia Bulldogs had an upset on their minds, especially after taking the first two sets in Memorial to go up 2-0 over the Wildcats. And while Kentucky battled back to tie the match at two sets a piece, it was the Bulldogs who came out on top, securing a 15-12 fifth-set win to grab the victory (23-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-15, 12-15).
Offensively, Kentucky actually played pretty well, hitting .292 as a team and recording 72 team kills to just 64 from Georgia. Setter Madison Lilley dished out a match-high 57 assists, a season-best for the junior. However, the Cats’ inability to jump out of the gate quickly proved to be the difference in the game.
“Georgia was prepared. They were ready to play,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “They were ready from point one. They were engaged, they were competing, they served and passed really well.”
Senior Leah Edmond led the way on the attack, recording 22 kills on a .235 hitting clip. Edmond also added five blocks and eleven digs, her third-straight double-double. The outside hitter is now just 18 kills away from breaking Kentucky’s all-time record for career kills. Sophomore Alli Stumler got going after a slow start to the match, finishing with 16 kills and just five errors. Caitlyn Cooper added 11 terminations and Kendyl Paris had ten.
Defensively, Gabby Curry had 22 digs and became just the seventh member of the program to reach the 1,000 career dig mark. To cap it off, the libero also added her first kill of the season to go along with eight assists.
“She’s been a heck of a player and I still think she’s improving,” Skinner said. “Libero of the Year (SEC) last year and continues every day to work to get better and try to prove herself. So she’s been a heck of a player to this point and I expect a lot out of her going forward.”
Lilley put in a good night defensively as well, picking up 13 digs and four blocks. Lauren Tharp added 11 digs of her own.
At the net, Kentucky had its best blocking performance of the season, grabbing 15 rejections as a team. Paris led the Cats with seven, Leah Meyer had six and Cooper added five.
Next up, the Wildcats will head to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers. First serve is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPNU.