After two heartbreaking losses by the men’s basketball and football teams earlier in the week, it was looking like UK athletics was having a rather rough seven days. But determined to give the Big Blue Nation something to smile about, the No. 11 Kentucky volleyball team swept the league-leader in digs in Alabama (25-16, 25-19, 25-23) thanks to 61 team digs of their own.
Gabby Curry proved once again to be the best defender on the floor, picking up a match-high 20 digs. Leah Edmond and Madison Lilley each added eleven of their own and Alli Stumler and Lauren Tharp contributed eight apiece as well.
Lilley directed the offense to 62 kills on a .350 hitting clip, a new school record in the rally-point scoring era for the most kills in a three set match. The setter dished out 45 assists to go along with her 11 digs, good for her third double-double of the season.
While Alabama logged 65 team digs on the day, they could do nothing to stop Edmond, who recorded 21 terminations with just six errors. Edmond’s 21 kills tied her rally-scoring era record of kills in a three-set match that she set last year.
“Our offense was humming today,” head coach Craig Skinner said. “We earned 24 points in the first and third sets. I think in total, they had seven hitting errors so we really had to be good offensively. Alabama was very sharp today on offense. It was imperative- we broke a school record for kills in a three-set match, so we certainly needed it on a day like today. Alabama played well.”
Stumler had her best game offensively since early in the season against USC, registering 15 kills on a .308 hitting percentage. Junior Caitlyn Cooper added 11 terminations of her own and set a new career best with a hitting clip of .733.
It was the seventeenth-straight victory for Kentucky after starting the season 3-4. And the Cats believe that the trust between each other is a big reason for their recent success.
“Trust has been a big thing,” Edmond said. “And us getting used to being around new people on the court. A lot of people who are playing right now didn’t have the roles they had last year or weren’t even here last year. It took us a lot of time to adjust but once we got it, I mean we’re rolling.”
The win moves the Cats to 20-4 on the year and 14-0 in the Southeastern Conference. It was also the sixth-straight sweep for UK. The Cats haven’t lost a set since their five-set match in College Station on October 21st. Kentucky begins a three-game road trip Wednesday when they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville. First serve is set for 6 pm.