It took five sets, but the University of Kentucky women’s volleyball team earned their second win of the season and first over a Top 25 opponent late Friday night after defeating No. 23 Utah in a thriller.
The first set was incredibly tight, with neither team holding more than a three-point lead. The teams found themselves even at 23 points apiece until two attack errors from Utah gave the Cats the 25-23 set 1 victory. Defensive specialist McKenzie Watson played an integral role in the set, as the junior tallied five critical digs that kept Kentucky in it.
The second set was even tighter than the first, as neither Kentucky nor Utah could seem to hold onto a lead. The Cats reached set point at 25-24, but two clutch kills from Utah put the pressure back on UK. Leah Edmond refused to let the Utes steal one, though, and the sophomore hammered down two kills to lead her team to a 29-27 win.
After the break, Utah came out red-hot in the third and fourth sets and dominated Kentucky 25-13 in set three, and 25-20 in set four. Kentucky hit just .212 in the third and .118 in the fourth.
Set five was a back-and-forth affair once again, but thanks to a few lucky plays that happened to fall in the Cats favor, Kentucky was able to pull in front. Senior Emily Franklin proved invaluable in the last set, tallying two solo blocks and a crucial ace that gave UK a two-point lead at 13-11. On a night in which Edmond proved crucial to the Cats’ success, it was only fitting that the sophomore hammered down her 22nd kill when Kentucky had match point, and gave UK the 15-12 victory.
Edmond attributed her success to her ability to take matches point by point.
“I love the pressure so I mean those are things I thrive on. So I just enjoy playing games like that and I just take every point one by one,” said Edmond.
Head coach Craig Skinner was pleased with his team’s tenacity in such a tough game, especially against a team as talented as Utah.
“You find out a lot about yourself in a match like that,” said Skinner.
Kentucky will be back in action Saturday night against Cincinnati as they close out the Bluegrass Battle. First serve is set for 7:30 pm.