The four-seeded Kentucky women’s volleyball team started the NCAA Tournament off with a win Friday night (25-19, 25-20, 25-21) after sweeping East Tennessee State in front of 4,005 fans in Memorial Coliseum.
Leading the offensive charge for the Wildcats was freshman Avery Skinner, who racked up 14 kills on a .407 hitting percentage. The outside hitter had just three errors in her NCAA Tournament debut.
“I really have to credit Madison (Lilley) and Kaz (Brown),” Skinner said. “I think Madison did a great job of just seeing the court and setting me the ball and Kaz did a great job just getting up and pulling the block so that a lot of times I had one on one opportunities. So, I really have to credit them.”
Madison Lilley dished out 39 assists on the night, helping the Wildcats hammer down 45 kills on a .337 hitting clip. The freshman setter also had three digs and a pair of kills. Sophomore Leah Edmond added 11 kills of her own along with two aces.
Defensively, UK limited ETSU to a measly .129 hitting percentage and forced 24 errors out of the Buccaneers. As a team, the Cats had nine blocks opposed to ETSU’s two. On the back line, senior libero Ashley Dusek had 12 digs, Gabby Curry had 4, and Merideth Jewell, Leah Edmond and Madison Lilley all contributed 3 scoops a piece.
With the win, the Wildcats advance to the Second Round of the tournament, setting up an in-state clash with WKU. The Hilltoppers advanced earlier Friday after a 3-0 sweep over Notre Dame and are No. 2 in the country in hitting percentage and No. 23 in kills per set.
“I mean, Western Kentucky doesn’t win 90 percent of their games because it’s luck,” head coach Craig Skinner said. “…I’m certainly not surprised by their performance tonight and I’m looking forward to a great match for the volleyball community tomorrow night and our state.”
First serve against the Hilltoppers is set for 7 pm and can be seen live on WatchESPN.