In a game that turned out to be a carbon copy of when the two teams met earlier this season, the No. 17 Kentucky volleyball team knocked off No. 11 Florida in Gainesville for the fourth-straight time. After falling behind in the match 2-1, the Wildcats stormed back to take the final two sets to win in five for the second time against the Gators this season (25-21, 15-25, 23-25, 26-24, 15-12).
“Just really proud of the heart and guts of this team to fight back under pressure,” UK head coach Craig Skinner said. “We’ve gone through a lot this week, and as a staff we are really proud of our team for showing so much resilience.”
As has been the theme for much of the year, it was the Kentucky offense that turned out to be the difference-maker, as setter Madison Lilley directed the Cats to 78 team kills on a .330 hitting clip. The junior dished out a season-high 63 assists, the fourth time in her career that she has eclipsed the 60-assist mark in a single match.
It was Leah Edmond and Alli Stumler who stole the show on Sunday, though, as the two left-side hitters combined for 57 kills. In comparison, Florida had 63 kills as a team once the match was complete.
Edmond reached a new career high in the winning effort, thundering down a match-high 30 terminations on a blistering .542 attacking percentage. It was the first time in her career that Edmond has surpassed 30 kills in a match, joining only Anni Thomasson in the school’s record books to have accomplished that feat. Stumler also recorded a new career high, contributing 27 kills of her own on a .333 hitting clip.
“The team performance was great, but the point production from Alli Stumler and Leah Edmond is something that Kentucky may not have ever seen before,” Skinner said.
Junior Kendyl Paris came up big in the match as well, adding six kills, an ace and four blocks. Paris recorded a kill when the Gators had match point in the fourth set at 24-23 to tie things up before picking up a monumental dig that would eventually give the Cats the lead for good before winning 26-24 to force a fifth frame.
Defensively, Gabby Curry was brilliant once again, picking up 25 digs to lead all players to go along with an ace and eight assists. Lilley added 13 digs as well, and Edmond and Stumler each picked up double-doubles with 11 and 12 digs respectively.
Leah Meyer was a force at the net once again, registering four blocks to go along with Paris’ four. Lilley had three and Edmond added two.
With the win, Kentucky improves to 6-2 against ranked competition this season, and has not lost a match in Gainesville in four years. The Cats have handed Florida their only two conference losses of the season, as the Gators fall to 21-4 on the year and 12-2 in the SEC. With the win, Kentucky moves into a tie with Florida for first place in the league and improves to 20-6 and 13-2 in the conference.
Kentucky will be back in action Wednesday when Missouri heads to Memorial Coliseum. First serve is slated for 7:00 pm.