For much of the season the highlight of the Kentucky women’s volleyball team has been its passing and floor defense. Today, however, it was the blocking that imposed its will as the No. 14 Wildcats took down South Carolina in straight sets (25-18, 25-12, 25-23) during the annual Pink Match.
Led by senior middle blocker Brooke Morgan, Kentucky put up a wall at the net, recording 11.5 stuffs, making it the third-straight game with 11 or more blocks. Morgan totaled six rejections, freshman Alli Stumler had five and Kendyl Paris had four. Six Wildcats totaled two or more rejections.
“Defensively, we were very good today,” head coach Craig Skinner said. “Holding an SEC opponent to negative (hitting percentages) in the first two sets was impressive. I think the third set is more indicative of how South Carolina can play, and we had to battle for it. It’s good to be in tight situations to learn how to respond, but the floor defense, the blocking – it was impressive today.”
What the block didn’t send back, the floor defense often picked up, as the Cats registered 45 digs as a team. Sophomore libero Gabby Curry led the way with 12, Lauren Tharp had 10 and sophomore Madison Lilley contributed nine.
Edmond paced Kentucky on the offensive end, hammering down 11 kills to go along with seven digs. Stumler had another impressive hitting performance, registering 10 kills with only three errors.
With the win, the Cats improve to 16-4 on the season and 10-0 in the Southeastern Conference, remaining atop the league for another week. The victory sets up a clash with SEC rival Florida, who the Wildcats will only face once this season, and who currently sit one spot ahead of Kentucky in the Top 25 at No. 13.\
And while the game is sure to be battle, Edmond and the team are preparing for it as if it’s just another game.
“We prep just like we did for South Carolina and Ole Miss and Tennessee and Arkansas,” Edmond said. “You just have to keep them (the freshman) calm. Make sure that they treat it like every other game. Don’t think that just because it’s Florida or because of a name that you have to play any different or do anything extra than what you already do.”
Coach Skinner is excited to see how his team competes against the Gators, and is preparing for a physical match at the net.
“We know what to expect. We know how good they are so it’ll be a good match.”
First serve for Wednesday’s Halloween match against Florida is set for 7 pm.