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Curry’s 22 Digs Lead Cats to Sweep

Sophomore libero Gabby Curry digs a ball during the match against Mississippi State on Friday, November 9, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky defeated Mississippi State 3-0. Photo by Hunter Mitchell.

If ever there was a time for a libero to peak during a season, it would certainly be as conference play winds down in preparation for the NCAA Tournament. And that’s certainly what’s happening with the No. 11 Kentucky volleyball team, as the Cats swept the Mississippi State Bulldogs (25-15, 25-17, 25-14) Friday behind sophomore Gabby Curry’s match-high 22 digs.

It was the eighth time in the last nine games that Curry reached double-digit scoops and the fourth time she’s surpassed twenty in that span. Leah Edmond and Lauren Tharp each picked up six, while sophomore Madison Lilley tallied five.

“I thought we got better each set so I was happy about that,” head coach Craig Skinner said. “Our execution – we started a little slow, but we were really good by the end of it, ironed out some things. Floor defense: really good again with Gabby (Curry) getting 22 digs and making them earn everything.”

The Wildcats were led in the middle by senior Brooke Morgan who sent back six blocks for the fourth time in the last five matches. Kendyl Paris and Lilley each added two a piece, while freshman Alli Stumler, Avery Skinner and Caitlyn Cooper each contributed one.

Offensively Kentucky was paced once again by junior sensation Leah Edmond, who recorded ten kills. Cooper added eight, Morgan contributed seven and Stumler pitched in with six. Sophomore Avery Skinner added five kills on seven swings off the bench after playing in just half of the third set. Stumler also added five aces in the winning effort, the most in a match this season by a Wildcat.

Lilley directed the offense to the tune of a .314 attacking clip and dished out 34 assists. The setter also recorded four terminations on just six swings, good for a hitting percentage of .667.

After sweeping the Bulldogs earlier in the season, Curry said the coaching staff made it a point to express the importance of coming out strong against Mississippi State.

“I think that our coaches did a really good job of putting emphasis on being focused and being intentional with every touch,” Curry said. “And I think that’s a big accomplishment for us and our team and our chemistry to know that we can get down to business and sweep a team twice.”

With the win, the Cats improve to 19-4 on the year and 13-0 in the Southeastern Conference, remaining two games ahead of the rest of the league.  The victory marks the 16th-straight win for Kentucky, the most consecutive victories by a team in the Craig Skinner era. The Cats will be back in action at home on Sunday for a matchup with the Alabama Crimson Tide. First serve at Memorial Coliseum is set for 1:30 pm.

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