For the second-consecutive match, the No. 16 Kentucky volleyball team found itself in a fifth set at home against a Big Ten team. And for the second-consecutive match, the Wildcats were bested after falling to No. 21 Purdue (21-25,25-20,25-19,22-25,18-15) late Wednesday night.
“Purdue made a lot of really good plays and we didn’t, bottom line.” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “In the fifth set, (Purdue) got kills and blocks when they needed to and served in the right spots. They created their own breaks. We need to do a better job of creating our own opportunities to score points and stop the bleeding when a team gets a few points in a row.”
Net play proved to be the difference in the game once again, as the Boilermakers recorded 17 blocks as a team to just ten from Kentucky. As a result, the Cats hit just .180 on the match, their third-worst performance of the season.
It’s the third-consecutive match where an opponent has recorded more blocks than Kentucky, having been out-blocked 46-33.5 in this stretch. And while Skinner believes his team’s blocking issues are fixable, they’re only going to improve with better discipline.
“I think we’re reaching a little bit, reaching to where the ball was as opposed to getting our hands across the net. Being a little bit more disciplined with our hands blocking so that we shape the ball back towards the court not out of bounds.”
There was a bright spot for the Cats, however, as outside hitter Leah Edmond recorded a career-high 27 kills on a .258 hitting clip. The senior also picked up 12 digs on the match, good for her fourth double-double on the season and third out of the last four matches. Aside from Edmond, the Wildcats had just one more player in double figures, as Caitlyn Cooper registered 11 kills on 23 swings. Leah Meyer added eight, Avery Skinner had six and Madison Lilley and Alli Stumler each contributed five.
Defensively, Kentucky was paced by libero Gabby Curry’s 15 scoops. Curry also recorded 10 assists, a new career-high and her first-career double-double. Stumler and Lilley each added 14 digs of their own and Lauren Tharp recorded ten.
After the loss, Kentucky falls to 6-4 on the season and is currently riding a two-game losing streak at home. The Cats will be back in action Friday, though, when rival Louisville comes to town for the annual Bluegrass Battle. The No. 25 Cardinals head into Friday’s matchup boasting a 6-2 record on the year. First serve in Memorial is set for 8:00 pm.