After a frustrating loss to Texas A&M at home on Friday, the No. 15 Kentucky volleyball team came into Sunday’s match desperately needing a win to keep their hopes of hosting the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament alive. And thanks to career days from Kendyl Paris and Alli Stumler, the Cats got just that, sweeping Arkansas (25-14, 25-12-25-19) to improve to 16-6 and 9-2 in the SEC.
Contrary to Friday’s match, the Wildcats looked sharp from behind the service line right out of the gate, registering six aces as a team and limiting Arkansas’ sideout percentage to just 45%. Stumler and Leah Edmond recorded two aces apiece, and Gabby Curry and Madison Lilley each added one.
“Craig says it all the time but we did what we could in the match on Friday (against Texas A&M) and things just really started going their way,” Stumler said. “That’s really tough to take because there’s really nothing that you can change or fix, you just have to kind of take the loss and grow from it. And I think that’s definitely what we did tonight.”
Defensively, Kentucky did a masterful job stopping the Arkansas attack, holding the Razorbacks to just .010 hitting and 21 total kills. The highest kill total for anyone on the Arkansas roster was just six terminations. Much of this was due in large part to Kentucky’s net play, which tallied eight blocks on the day. Leah Meyer and Lilley led all players with three blocks apiece.
On the back line, it was Stumler who led the Wildcats, picking up a career-high 20 digs. Curry added 13 scoops, Lilley had six and Edmond had five.
Stumler didn’t just pace the defense, however, as the sophomore also registered a match-high 15 kills with just four errors, good for her fifth double-double on the season.
“Really good effort, really good positioning reading the situations defensively and good vision attacking, seeing what shot was available,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “Really pleased. She’s been preparing herself in practice like always and the results speak for themselves.”
Paris set a new SEC career-high as well with nine terminations on a .692 hitting clip. Edmond added seven kills and Meyer had five.
The Cats will hit the road for four-straight matches, beginning with a trip to Georgia for a rematch with the Bulldogs. Georgia knocked off Kentucky in five sets at Memorial Coliseum back in October, ending the Cats’ 29-match SEC win streak. First serve is set for 7:00 pm and will be shown live on SEC Network+.