It was a total defensive effort inside Memorial Coliseum Saturday night, as the ninth-seeded Kentucky volleyball team smothered No. 22 Michigan in straight sets (25-19, 25-19, 25-20) to advance to a third-straight Sweet Sixteen.
Kentucky jumped on the Wolverines early, tallying two blocks in the first 15 points of the match. After that, Michigan never got into any kind of offensive rhythm as the Cats ended the evening with eleven blocks as a team. Leah Meyer led the way for Kentucky with seven blocks, Caitlyn Cooper had four and Kendyl Paris added three.
Gabby Curry had another brilliant performance on the back line, picking up a staggering 19 digs, the second time this season the junior has eclipsed that number in a three set match. Leah Edmond had seven digs as well, Madison Lilley added six and Lauren Tharp had three.
Lilley had another solid night distributing the ball, dishing out 31 assists and allowing four players to record four or more kills. The Cats hit .323 as a team, led by Edmond’s 15 terminations. In her final match inside of Memorial Coliseum, the senior hit .375 to go along with a trio of blocks. Stumler had eleven kills, Meyer had six and Paris had four.
And as good as Kentucky’s block was, their serving game was equally impressive, preventing the Wolverines from distributing the ball effectively all night. The Cats tallied three service aces, but it was their ability to keep Michigan out of system that proved to be the biggest difference.
With the win, the Cats improve to 7-2 on the season against ranked competition. Kentucky moves to 25-6 overall and will travel to Waco, TX to take on the winner of the Washington/South Carolina game that takes place later tonight. After a sweep over USC, the Baylor Bears earned the right to host the next round as the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed. Match times and dates will be announced after all of Saturday’s matches have completed.